Bushnell Pro XE vs Garmin Approach Z80 – Which One Is The Best?
To hybrid or not to hybrid. That is the question we will be tackling in today’s review. The products we will be outlining are both laser rangefinders, but one has added GPS functionality. The question is whether it’s worth it to invest in a golf GPS/rangefinder hybrid.
Does the GPS functionality hinder its abilities as a rangefinder? Is the accuracy of the rangefinder impeded by the GPS features? These were the questions we were most curious about. And in order to answer them, we have tested and compared 2 golf rangefinders. Take a look at what we found.
The Bushnell Pro XE
We start our review with a pure golf laser rangefinder by Bushnell. This is a comfortable rangefinder that weighs about 1.30 pounds. It’s got a really nice 7x magnification lens which makes seeing targets very far away very easy.
But the best part about the Bushnell Pro XE is the slope and weather compensation features. A lot of rangefinders have slope compensation technology so that’s nothing new. But the Bushnell will also tell you the plays like distance while accounting for barometric pressure.
If your local course gets a lot of fog, precipitation or is just plain hot most of the year then this feature will be a huge boon to your game. You can switch this feature off at any time too. If you are playing in a tournament, all you have to do is flip the switch on the side and your 100% tournament legal.
The Pro XE also comes with the JOLT pin seeking feature which vibrates when it has locked onto your target. You can also mount it to your golf cart or other metal surfaces via its magnetized casing. We found this rangefinder to be reliably accurate up to about 400 yards.
The Garmin Approach Z80
And now, on to the hybrid. The Approach Z80 also has slope compensation features and we tested it to be accurate up to about 350 yards. It’s considerably smaller than the Pro XE and weighs a bit less too.
But what really sets this rangefinder apart is the GPS functionality. When you look through the viewfinder of the Approach Z80, you get a 2-D overlay of the hole you’re playing. It has 41,000 courses preloaded into it so you will have pertinent information for pretty much every course you play.
The 2-D overlay (visible through the 6x magnification lens) gives you distances to the front, center and back of the green. You can see the “shape” of the course as well as anything in play – doglegs, sand traps etc.
When we locked onto the flag, the shape of the green and the distances to its front, back, and center popped up automatically when in GPS mode – a pretty impressive and helpful feature.
Our first impression of the Bushnell Pro XE was that it looked pretty cool. It’s got a clean, raised “stripe” design and the Bushnell “B” logo adorns the middle of the side of the device. While it may seem silly, we were also excited to use the magnet to attach it to metal surfaces.
When we opened the Approach Z80 box, we were surprised at how small it was. We were thinking it would actually be larger than the Bushnell but it was considerably smaller. We were also glad to see that it came with a rechargeable battery because we don’t like replacing batteries.
The Garmin Approach Z80 gave a very clear view of the targets we affixed it to via its adjustable diopter lens. The overlay information was also very accurate but the slope adjustment feature leaves a little to be desired in our opinion.
The Bushnell Pro XE also gave a very clear view of various targets and the slope compensation worked a bit better. Sometimes though, it was a bit difficult to get the crosshair locked onto the flag. Sometimes it would lock onto a tree or object behind the flag.
There isn’t much difference in price between these 2 devices. The Garmin Approach Z80 is a bit pricier at around $500 while the Bushnell Pro XE isn’t too far behind at $490.
Bushnell Pro XE Pros & Cons
- Accounts for barometric pressure and temperature
- Simple to use
- Powerful 7x magnification lens
- Sturdy design
- It will attach to any metal surface
- You get the Bushnell golf app with your purchase
- It’s a bit heavy
- CR2 battery that needs to be replaced
- Bushnell tech support isn’t the best
- You need to pan over the flag in order to get the JOLT
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Garmin Approach Z80 Pros & Cons:
- Gives you course info
- Gives you distances to the front, back and center of the green
- Rechargeable battery
- Very compact
- Sleek design
- Color course maps
- Does not account for weather elements
- The battery life is short
- The different modes are a bit hard to switch in and out of
- You can’t attach a lanyard to it
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Choosing between these two devices was difficult (as it usually is). We really liked the green information that the Garmin Approach Z80 gave us but we also really liked that the Bushnell Pro XE accounted for elements of the weather.
In the end though, we have to give our endorsement to the Garmin Approach Z80. It has almost all of the essential golf GPS features (it would be really cool if it had a digital scorecard feature) and is a reasonably accurate rangefinder as well.
The battery life could be better but at least it’s rechargeable. It was kind of easy to lose track of as well since it’s so light and you can’t corral it with a lanyard or anything. But we could forgive these shortcomings because this is just a really cool and handy device.
All in all, the hybrid GPS/rangefinder device won us over. It gives you the best of both worlds without hindering performance in any regard. In our opinion, the Garmin Approach Z80 is the best of these 2 so check it out!
GARMIN APPROACH Z80 Rangefinder/GPS
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Hi, I am Matthew, a mid handicap golfer who likes to play as much as possible. I love trying out new gear and this blog is where you can find all the gear I have tested over the years!