Callaway says “whoops”…. voluntarily withdraws the uPro MX from market

by Derek on August 3, 2011

in Equipment

I was really excited when I first learned about the uPro MX back at the PGA show in January.  It seemed like a great GPS device at an extremely competitive price.  Unfortunately, as a quick check of any golf forum can show you, the uPro MX launch didn’t exactly go smoothly.  The problems have been so bad that Callaway is pulling all existing stock from retailers and offering customers a refund.

Sometimes it’s hard to gauge the extent of a problem simply because the internet tends to make things like this seem larger and more widespread than they really are.  But in this case, the problems must have been extremely severe in order to cause Callaway to pull the product from the market rather than continue to push out firmware updates.  It suggests to me that the problems many customers have been experiencing may be due to faulty hardware, rather than just buggy software/firmware.

Originally I was supposed to be receiving an early unit to review, but then Callaway basically went silent on the uPro MX.  It wasn’t long before I realized it was because they were too busy putting out fires.

I knew they were launching a new website alongside the new unit, but they missed the date.  At first it seemed like they would have the new website up within a few days, but it ultimately took over a month before they had it up and running, leaving customers unable to download Promode courses (the ones with the aerial views) during that time.

Callaway offered a bundle of free Promode courses to early adopters as compensation, but more and more reports emerged of units freezing during during use and randomly rebooting.  Some people were going through 2 or 3 replacement units.  Ultimately it looks like Callaway decided the problems were too significant to fix out in the marketplace and decided to initiate this withdrawal/refund program in order to give themselves a chance to fix everything and relaunch once they know they have a 100% functional unit.

Tim Buckman, Callaway Golf’s Senior Director of Global Communications, told Golf Digest:

Our voluntary withdrawal [of uPro MX] ensures that once we have made the appropriate software update, we can return the product to market and deliver the high quality experience that customers expect from Callaway.  Our commitment to delivering best in class products and services is the guiding principle behind this decision and we will continue to do whatever it takes to earn the trust of our customers. UPro MX and the callawayuxplore platform represent an important area of focus within Callaway and we are confident that our use of innovative technologies will advance the category.”

I have to give Callaway credit for at least doing their best to get out in front of this mess.  Yes, they screwed up the release, but they’ve done as good a job with damage control as I think anybody could expect.  When they do re-launch the uPro MX, I certainly look forward to taking a look at it.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Dan December 12, 2011 at 8:57 pm

I had an original uPro and loved it. Aside from occasionally crashing (maybe 8-10 times in hundreds of rounds) and needing to reboot, it was easy to use and very helpful. It finally died and wouldn’t power up. Callaway had me return it for evaluation. They concluded it could not be fixed and sent me a replacement, but it is a uPro MX. Having attempted to use this attractive paperweight several times, I’m ready to throw it in the creek and look at other rangefinders.

It is without question the WORST “improvement” of a useful device I’ve ever experienced. •The touchscreen is inappropriate on a device this small, in my opinion, in part because my fingers are simply too large to use it accurately, and I only wear a Large golf glove.
•Some onscreen buttons respond to a very light touch, while others require squeezing the unit tightly between thumb and forefinger.
•I often can’t get it out of Preview mode, which means all the navigation and rangefinder functions are disabled. When I do get my course and a “Play” button instead of a “Preview” button, it jumps to a club-selection screen. If I return to the “Play” screen and touch it again, it starts stacking up windows of my course without ever going into play mode.
•I have yet to be able to get the “state-of-the-art” touchpad button to do ANYTHING to the display.

I could go on, but the foregoing describes a useless device. I bought the original uPro after exhaustive online research into the various brands and models, paying a premium price for one of the first units. Now, when that trusty unit died, then send me this piece of garbage without telling me that they RECALLED the MX and offered refunds. In my opinion, if they want to salvage a reputation as a purveyor of rangefinders, they should knock off the smartphone bells and whistles profusion of “technology” and bring back the original. It was a model of intuitive usability and proved to be quite durable. It had simple mechanical controls instead of the crappy touchscreen interface. The battery did start failing to take and hold a full charge, but I got a spare through eBay for $15.

The uPro MX is a terrible rangefinder bedeviled by problems that Callaway apparently cannot solve. I’m insulted that they sent me one shortly after recalling the entire model, somehow expecting that this one might work?


Dan May 30, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Update: After I wrote this review, I tried pulling the battery out and rebooting several times. To my amazement, on the third or so try, it suddenly started working OK. I still miss the simplicity of the original uPro, and I don’t use many of the bells and whistles, such as scorecard or tracking shot yardages (which was easy and intuitive on the original), but it does work, at least on my home course. The catalog of courses still doesn’t have some of the lesser tracks in my region, but finances pretty much confine our golf to our home course, where annual-member dues are very reasonable (one-time $1000 for a couple, $81/mo for unlimited golf), so it works for me.

The little optical trackpad thingie is awfully sensitive and thus hard to use accurately, but I don’t use it often; I just estimate yardage to the target from the pictorial front/middle/rear yardages. As for accuracy, it seems to agree with most of the other GPS and laser rangefinders of playing companions. You still have to hit the shot, after all.

Battery life exceeds 18 holes, but be sure to turn it on and then shut down after charging. If you just unplug and set it aside, it stays on and will drain the battery. I bought a spare battery for my original, and it fits the MX, so I always carry the fully charged spare on the course. I forgot to do the shutdown procedure last charge, and it did quit on me halfway through a 9-hole match, but I was able to swap batteries and have it up and running again in about two minutes. Old-school note: I had to estimate one shot, and hit my 6-iron pin-high, so it’s not the end of the world without GPS…

I don’t feel so bad for having ragged on it so thoroughly here after reading numerous forums where everyone else was disappointed or even angry, but I do feel obligated, in fairness to Callaway and their efforts to fix a BIG product problem, to post further that I was able to get it working, and that it has not let me down since. I did crack the glass when I accidentally clipped the unit putting an iron back in my bag (I made a custom mount on my push-cart handle, so it’s kind of in the way if I’m not careful), but functionality wasn’t affected.

So I would change my view from don’t-buy to they’ve-probably-fixed-it-by-now.


Jose January 13, 2012 at 5:00 pm

Thanks for the info Dan, I was looking at one of these units on Ebay, looks like you saved me $149 !


Don April 30, 2012 at 3:29 pm

The Upro is a piece of junk. You need to go in to the program library to launch the resync. If you are lucky, the computer might find the device to sync it. The “flyover” option sucks the life out of the battery. Also, it is so small as to be useless.
Calloway has really disappointed me.


Paul May 14, 2012 at 7:40 pm

Much to my disbelief, Callaway have just done exactly the same thing to me. I returned a uPro G1 (which I was extremely happy with) and they ‘replaced’ it with the MX paperweight. To add insult to injury, I have now found that the uPro MX+ is to be released in only a couple of weeks. I’m assuming the MX+ is a better unit. I have now complained bitterly to Callaway and am currently awaiting a response. Did you pursue them any further?


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