The new Wilson X Connected Basketball puts the smart into court smarts but does it hit the mark?

I’m a bit of geek when it comes to technology. Regular readers will similarly have a sense that I dig this sport called basketball.

So when the folk at Wilson offered a sneak peek at their new ball that combines the two, I was feeling this might be a match made in hoops heaven.

Essentially, it’s a ball with a chip inside which links up to an App that records your makes and misses over four different modes: Free Range, Buzzer Beater, Free Throws and Game Time, ideal for those shooting drills where you don’t want to lose count on your stats.

There’s audio additions – including sound effects, music and gym sounds – plus settings for each variety of court (FIBA, NBA, etc) with scores triggered by the ball falling vertically all the way to the floor.

So far so good. However theory beats practice though.

Firstly, unless you want to attach the phone to a speaker – or wear headphones – the vocal encouragement isn’t much use.

The accuracy of the score-counting is also a little off. It’s not bad, to be fair, but if you bother with putting in your rebounds, it confuses the whole system. And when we tested it out, it was probably less generous in giving an accurate percentage of makes than we’d like (I’m bad, but not that bad).

The separate game modes are nevertheless, clever with free throw and free range working the best of the four. But what excited us most about the concept is the potential idea that a team could track its percentage over a game (or perhaps, at least, both teams).

For now, that’s not a possibility – again the rebounds, or simply catching the ball as it falls through the rim, rules the idea out of bounds.

If nothing else, it should still serve as a regular basketball without the bells and whistles. It doesn’t top our long-time first choice, the Molten GLX, and for a hefty price tag £160 – even with the technology inside – you expect something that feels impeccable on the hands and our test panel weren’t overly impressed.

If you’re a prospective shooting star who’s big into individual practice drills, the Wilson X could be a solid option. But we’d compare this to a half-court shot that hits the rim but just misses its target.

You can admire the ambition. The execution is a fraction off.

The idea remains pretty attractive though. We await Version 2.0 of the X Connected with keen interest.


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