About a month ago, some pictures of a metal Shinwoo, the Hi-Power Zen began to surface. Shinwoo was primarily known for their plastic lines, offering a smaller alternative to the Freehand Zero (Phantom) and a much underrated off-string (Griffin Wing) so the fact that they were moving into the metal market was pretty interesting. Could this be another great low cost yo-yo out of the Korean based Shinwoo? Its new, its interesting, and I wanted to review it. David Maddox was kind enough to send me his sample, and I am happy to offer the first review of Shinwoo’s new metal yo-yo, the Hi-Power Zen.
When I think of Zen, I think of a mind state of calm serenity and focus. When I practice yo-yoing, I try to achieve the Zen like state but with an attention-begging Beagle and a 4 year old daughter, Zen is not always easy to achieve. When I received the Hi-Power Zen (Here on out, referred to as the Zen) it came in a poly bag with weight rings, string, and two sets of response pads. I had to put the string, weight rings, and pads in myself, but that is not a huge deal because it lets you set up the yo-yo how you like it while giving you everything you need to get started.
The Zen has a pretty cool open flair shape and a very bright anno finish. Inside the open catch zone, the Zen has grooves that are similar to the OneDrop Project (or P2) but are not as deep and are spaced a little further apart. The result is a very smooth catch zone that to the touch, imitates a light beadblast.
The weight rings are very similar to those found in the Dif-e-Yo line. Without the rings, the Zen weighs in at 66 grams, but with the rings, the Zen is a wrist snapping 70 grams!
Tech and Comfort:
The response pads are REALLY interesting. On one side, the pad is smooth, but the other side is basically a soft starburst. The groove that the pads sit in can take silicone if you so desire. In both flush and starburst mode, the response sits at a slight recess. In a move that makes me want to stand up an applaud, Shinwoo has kept the C size bearing size. This makes swapping out the bearing to your favorite designer brand a breeze. Terrapin, KK, AIRG, 10ball, Central Trac, it will all fit. The bearing sits a tad bit loose on the seat, making it very easy to remove and swap.
As far as size goes, the Zen is most definitely a full sized yo-yo. In a market crowded by undersized throws, the 54mm diameter the Zen might be a bit larger than what you are used to. The sharp lines, open flair shape combined with the diameter does not make the most comfortable hold. The rims seem to hit the outermost part of the palm meat, even on gigantor hands like mine. The Zen makes up for this with its extremely smooth easy to grip finish and a 39mm width that keeps the Zen from feeling too bulky.
On a Throw:
After trying a few combinations of response settings, I came to the conclusion that the best setup for me was to have one response smooth, and the other starburst. Two smooth setups were just too much for the Zen’s fairly large gap, causing very slippy binds, and two starbursts were way to grippy and snaggy to be of any use. One smooth, one starburst = tight binds and snag free unresponsive play. As far as the weight rings, the Zen felt way too heavy with them installed. If you like the option of having a heavier throw, then the weight rings would be perfect for you but my puny wrists just can not handle 70 grams for an extended period of time.
Even without the weight rings, the Zen played heavy. It did not quite have the “Clunk” at the end of the string but there is definitely a “Thud” that a lot of “Play Heavy” throws have. Despite this joint popping action, the Zen is a very fast play. The rim weight is very well managed giving you a very smooth and high speed throw with a very very (very) slight vibration (Likely caused by the response pads).
The gap is big enough to offer multiple string wraps and the catch zone makes transfers and hops easy to catch. The Zen is very stable on a good throw and easy to correct on an unwanted tilt. The weight placement also makes a fairly easy gyro, which I had found is not common on larger yo-yos.
There is not really enough of a lip to give you a good IRG, especially with the rings in place. It is possible to do an inner ring grind, but it is not very stable and the spin dies out faster than it should. Finger and Arm Grinds are a similar story. If the catch zone had more defined grooves, or a blast finish, the sloping rims would be ideal for grinds, but with the current finish, it hits your arm and takes off. Like IRG’s, grinds are possible, but are not very stable and sacrifice a lot of spintime.
I was honestly not expecting much from the Hi Power Zen. I have used a few Shinwoo products in the past, and other than the underrated Griffon Wing, I have never been tremendously impressed. The Phantom was just kind of “Ho Hum” to me, I was never able to get past the plug pad response. I was not really sure what to expect from the Hi-Power Zen. It had a nice look to it, and lots of options (for which I am a long spoken proponent of) but it didn’t immediately jump out at me. When I got it in my hands, I have to honestly say that despite its shortcomings (No grinds, heavy play, slight vibe) the Zen was fun to play with. Despite the strange logo and a name that sounds like an Air Purifier (“The Hi-Power Zen will strip your air of heavy particles giving you a clean breeze without the harsh dust! From the makers of Oxy Clean!”) I really like the look, bright color, and the unique shape.
The success of the Zen will fall in the price point. If retailers can push the price down to the $65-75 range, then the Shinwoo is a safe buy, but any more than $85 would be pushing it. if you want a bright player that gives you a lot of options, and is not like most of the throws in your yo-yo case, and the price point feels right to you, then I recommend trying the Shinwoo Hi-Power.
I know that the Shinwoo Hi-Power Zen will be available at YoYoGuy.com in the near future, but I don’t have a price point yet.
Written by Chris “Dr. Yo-Yo” Allen who this week found himself over 9000….
Edited by Dustin Gunter, who loves Oxy Clean and misses Billy Mays sorely.