Once again, thanks to all who voted in the poll earlier. We've got the most number of people asking for a review of the Li-Ning N90-III, so I've taken a little longer than usual to make sure I knew what I wanted to write before getting down to it.
So when we last left off, the strings were a little wonky and I couldn't get a lot of feel from them. I've gotten the strings changed to the more playable Toalson BL-6500 (check out the new series of Toalson strings here), and hit the courts.
This here's probably the smartest looking of the new N-III series. Red and white and shiny all over. Apart from the looks, the racket boosts a pretty good feel, with attacks coming through sharp and true a large portion of the time.
It's also not as stiff as the N90, or as head heavy as the N90-II, which put it pretty sweetly for those who are trying to find a good balance between defense and attack.
Note. This review carries my own opinion of the racket from my experience. Comments welcome!
With that said, let's go.
Li-Ning Break-Free N90-III
Est. Dry Weight: 96g (3U)
Grip Size: G5
Balance: Slightly head heavy
Stiffness: Slightly stiff
Strings: Toalson BL-6500 @ 25lbs
I recommend this racket for singles play.
In my review for the N90 and N90-II I made a comment about how easy it was to send the shuttle to the back of the court with something that stiff and head heavy. Well, with the N90-III, I didn't' find myself punching the shuttle as far, and as a result turned to the much preferred drive defense style that I'm more familar with.
And the Li-Ning N90-III does this with ease. Whether it's a soft block across the net or a quick flick to the other side, I was able to pull this move off without much difficulty.
The decreased weight probably made it work, aided by the popular Break-Free (or Sword, if anyone's a Victor fan) head frame design that's a wonder to swing around.
Speed and reflexes were up with this in my hand, and my singles game with this were pretty much comfortable knowing that I could take most attacks and survive.
There's also the element of control, that makes me almost tempts my opponents to go for the tight net shot. More on that to come.
Being lighter and less stiff and less head heavy than its predecessors does not bode well for the N90-III when it comes down to offense, but the racket performs admirably by having a quick, sharp swing that allows you to take the shuttle down at amazing angles.
Once again I'll have to mention the sword frame. The Break-Free design practically cuts down on drag and puts the head down at a quicker pace, allowing for a really comfortable contact point. This gives me a lot more room for imagination in my shots - (slightly lesser) power smash, the wrist snap, fast drops, you name it.
Drives with this are pretty much stunted though. Unlike the heavyweights, the 96g (thereabouts anyhoo) Li-Ning N90-III doesn't carry much weight transfer to give you that satisfying explosion when you throw your arm out for a drive shot.
Here's where it gets interesting. I give a good control rating to any racket that makes me feel comfortable and allows me to make any shot that comes to mind. From trick shots to acute changes in direction, the N90-III is one comfortable racket.
It gives me the feeling that I can place the shuttle into any box you place in the court (and I don't even have to try that many times either). The accuracy that the racket gives is unbelievable. When you get a good hit in you really can get that WOW feel.
Backhands were well-executed, forehands were close to perfect. The net shots that I could perform were so close to the net it isn't funny.
One of my worst shots is the cross-court tight net shot. Really horrible. Like shooting flies with a bazooka.
That didn't seem to be much of a problem with the N90-III though. Awesome control.
For those who have seen Alucard, the Li-Ning N90-III comes in the exact color tone. Freaking awesome, impossibly cool, indescribably desirably. One look is all you need to part ways with your money.
For those who didn't see the anime, here's a picture.
Li-Ning Break-Free N90-III
"Faultlessly perfect control"