Whilst they are more widely known for their lasers, Bushnell are also getting a name for lightweight and competitively priced GPS devices and the latest to hit your wrist is the Neo iON watch.
The sporty look in a choice of three colours makes it one of the better looking GPS watches in the market and one that does not look out of place off the course either.
With the added options of a pedometer to measure steps and an odometer to measure distance, it has its non-golf uses if you want a basic tracking device for walking, running or cycling activities.
However it is golf that the Neo iON has been designed for and for these types of watches it is about average depth and lightweight at just 51 grams.
The silicon strap is flexible and comfortable to wear with plenty of holes to get the right diameter for a snug fit.
The Neo iON is charged in an hour or two using a supplied USB cable that has its own connector that snaps into place very easily.
One of the key features of the Neo iON is that it claims a longer battery life than other GPS watches and I managed 4 rounds over 6 days on a single charge, so if you are someone who forgets to recharge things then this gives you some leeway.
I love the Tee Time function that will turn the GPS course finder on automatically 7 minutes before the tee time you enter and you can do this days in advance. All you have to do then is select the course from the list and off you go.
Just as good is the Auto Off setting that means you can set a maximum time for your round after which the Neo iON will switch off the GPS to save battery power.
These two functions take away a little of the hassle of owning a GPS watch as it takes a few things off your to do list for before and after a round.
The LCD display is clear and easy to read in any light conditions with the centre yardage in large numbers and the front and back yardages below this.
Given the wide 45mm circumference of the face, it seems a shame that the square display is less than half of this at 21mm as more space could have meant bigger fonts.
The Neo iON took around 30 seconds to locate the course I was on from the database of over 35,000 it holds. It uses the iGolf database and like other Bushnell reviews I have done, it does not include our local par-3 course that is next to the main course that is on other databases. You can submit a course request, but I would have expected that to be on there.
The yardages are to the middle of the front and back of the green so if you are approaching the green from an angle then you will need to allow for this.
On the yardage screen, if you click the right middle button it will bring up distances to hazards and lay ups using some TLAs you will have to learn such as LFB for Left Fairway Bunker and RGB for Right Greenside Bunker.
Watches always struggle with showing hazard information and whilst this is a pretty good effort, it only shows you the next nearest 4 hazards, so if you are playing a bunker strewn links then the value of this could be limited.
However if you manage to bomb one over all the hazards you can't see in the distance, you can measure your drive using the simple to use Shot Measurement function.
There is also the auto-hole advance, which worked well so you did not need to use the up/down scroll buttons on to move between the holes at all. Combined with the auto on/off you can turn up to play and hardly have to touch the watch at all which makes it very user friendly so you can just enjoy your golf.
There is no scoring function or smart phone app to pair it with but it doesn't really need it, because the key selling points of the Bushnell Neo iON are its simplicity, longer than average battery life and competitive price.
I like to combine a quality front/middle/back GPS with a laser like the Bushnell Tour v4 to get the exact distances to flags, especially on courses you know well and therefore don't need the hazard information.
The Bushnell Neo iON is ideal for this as well as being an entry level GPS watch that does the basics well without getting distracted by gimmicks that don't add much value.
Whilst there may be the odd grumble here and there, these are outweighed by the ease of use, clever touches like the auto on/off and the styling which makes it one of the best looking GPS watches around.
In 2018 Bushnell launched version 2 called funnily enough the Neo iON2. It is the same watch but now connects to the Bushnell app on your smartphone so you can get updates that way instead of connecting via a cable to a computer. Full details here