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DHS Skyline Series Review: Skyline 3, Skyline 3 Neo, and Skyline 3-60

15 February 2018  | Posted in: Table Tennis Reviews

About the Reviewer

Patrick HrdlickaPatrick Hrdlicka is a table tennis enthusiast, who was introduced to the sport by his parents at the age of six. Patrick progressed to play in the highest national cadet and junior team leagues in his native Denmark and was among the top 40 players in his age group, which fostered several long-standing members of the Danish National Team. With college looming, Patrick quit the sport for almost twenty years. During this hiatus, he obtained a Ph.D.-degree in chemistry and accepted a position as professor of chemistry at the University of Idaho.

At the beginning of 2014, the mid-life crisis and yearning for table tennis grew too strong for Patrick and he decided to pick up the sport again. Bitten again by the table tennis bug, he plays 4-6 times per week. 

Since his comeback to table tennis, he has enjoyed combining his analytical and experimental skills with his love for table tennis, testing and reviewing a wide range of table tennis equipment.

Introduction
In this test, I evaluated three rubbers from DHS’ Skyline series, i.e., Skyline TG3, Skyline TG3 Neo, and Skyline 3-60. The Skyline rubbers are not as well-known as their Hurricane counterparts but some of them have – supposedly – been used by members of China’s national team in the past. Having played with Chinese rubbers for the past two years (read my reviews of the Hurricane 3 and Hurricane 8 rubbers), I was looking forward to testing and comparing the Skyline rubbers to the Hurricane rubbers.

DHS Skyline Table Tennis Rubbers

Testing procedure
I tested brand new and unboosted Skyline rubbers on a Tibhar Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition blade, which has a classic 7-ply limba-ayous-ayous-ayous-ayous-ayous-limba construction. I used Spinlord Waran short pips in my BH (1.8 mm, red). As always, I attached the rubbers using the Revolution 3 normal viscosity glue and tested the set-up over a couple of sessions, playing drills and matches against my usual training partners using the DHS D40+ 3* plastic balls. I tested the rubbers in the sequence listed below. Before proceeding further, I performed a quick and non-scientific press test, which suggested the following order of rubber hardness (from hardest to softest): Skyline TG3 Neo > Skyline TG3 > Hurricane 3 (41-degrees) > Hurricane 3 Neo (40-degrees) provincial > Hurricane 3 (39-degrees) > Skyline 3-60 > Hurricane 3-50 > Tibhar Evolution MX-P.

DHS Skyline 3 Neo (2.15 mm, Mid-Hard, 38-40 Degrees, Black) – A Traditional Tacky Chinese Rubber for Topspin-Oriented Players 

According to DHS, the Skyline 3 Neo rubber allows for an aggressive style with fast and frequent looping. DHS asserts that the Neo sponge returns the ball extremely quickly due to its high energy potential and elasticity. The rubber comes in a thin, green-, golden- and silver-colored paper that is inside a vacuum-packaged plastic bag. The extremely tacky top-sheet, which looks identical to the one of the regular Skyline TG3, is covered in a thin transparent plastic foil, whereas the sponge is covered with a white plastic foil, presumably to protect the thick tuning layer and preserve the rubber’s freshness.

The uncut sheet weighs 65 g (162 mm x 164 mm, four corners cut), whereas the sheet weighed 51 g when cut to the 158 x 151 mm test blade. This renders the Skyline TG3 Neo ~4 grams heavier than the Hurricane 3 Neo rubber and ~5 grams lighter than the Hurricane 8 rubbers. The orange sponge has near-vertical ripples, is without visible pores, and does not smell or dome. The press test suggests that the Skyline TG3 Neo is one of the hardest rubbers that I have ever evaluated. Given 38-40 degree hardness of sponge, this indicates that the Skyline topsheet is very hard. 

Playing impressions
The first few FH drives revealed that the TG3 Neo is a traditional Chinese rubber, i.e., a relatively slow and hard rubber, which produces a subdued metallic feeling on ball impact. FH drives require considerable effort and/or acceleration through the ball, especially if played further away from the table. FH loops played against regular blocks seem to be less spinny than when using a DHS Hurricane 3 Neo rubber. In fact, on FH loops the TG3 Neo more closely resembled a hard-sponged regular Hurricane 3. Opening FH loops against backspin, on the other hand, generate high amounts of topspin, suggesting that spin generation requires a very hard brushing contact between the rubber and ball.

DHS Skyline TG3 Neo

The throw angle generated by the Skyline TG3 Neo on FH loops is low to medium-low - enough to clear the net but not much more. Given the hard nature of the rubber, the margin for error with respect to positioning relative to the ball is small. In other words, this rubber requires and rewards those with excellent footwork. The rubber can absorb high amounts of incoming energy from loops, but the moderately tacky top-sheet renders it somewhat sensitive to sidespin, which one must compensate for in the form of a slightly adjusted racket angle, when blocking.

As seen with many other tacky rubbers, flat hits are not the TG3 Neo’s strongest suit, although perfectly playable. Just don’t expect lightning speed or any catapult effect from the rubber. The feeling on flat hits is quite dead. Short pushes, on the other hand, can be played low and short with good amounts of backspin. Aggressive service returns can be played quite confidently, as the moderately tacky top-sheet assists in overcoming the spin and guiding the ball over the net. The rubber’s muted feeling is beneficial on serves - and back/side-spin serves in particular – where I was able to impart very high amounts of spin, all while keeping the ball short.

Read DHS Skyline 3 Neo Customer Reviews & Get Our Best Price >>


Conclusion

The DHS Skyline TG3 Neo caters to players who prefer hard and tacky rubbers and who use the appropriate game strategy, i.e., close to the table brushing loops with short and fast accelerations through the ball in concert with a tight short game and strong serves. This is a very linear rubber, i.e., you get out of it what you put into it, as there is no built-in catapult. This is a relatively slow rubber, and advanced players will likely want to pair it with a blade that is even faster than the Tibhar Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition used in this test; composite blades like DHS’ Hurricane Long 5 come to mind. Alternatively (or additionally), this rubber would likely become livelier upon treatment with a booster such as the Falco Long Term booster. Topspin-oriented players with excellent footwork and strong physique will be rewarded with a high-control rubber with a near-unbeatable price point.

Serves: 9/10
Serve receives and short game: 9/10
Looping: 9/10
Flat hitting: 7.5/10 
Blocking: 8.5/10

DHS Skyline 3 (2.15 mm, Mid-Hard, 38-40 Degrees, Black) – Hard and Tacky Taken to an Extreme 

DHS describes the Skyline 3 rubber as having a lot of speed and power, enabling aggressive topspins near the table or from mid-distance while maintaining excellent control in the short or blocking game. It is designed for “fast, continual, and dense attack”. The rubber is placed inside sturdy purple cardboard packaging with golden, red and silver secondary color tones (not vacuum-packed). The matte top-sheet is covered with a thin protective foil and feels robust and very tacky.

The uncut sheet weighs 63 g (166 mm x 169 mm, four corners cut) whereas the sheet weighs 47 g when cut to the 158 x 151 mm test blade. This is ~4 grams less than the TG3 Neo, but ~4 grams more than an equivalent sheet of Hurricane 3. The orange sponge has faint near-vertical ripples but is without visible pores, tuning layers, or smells, and does not dome. The press test identifies the TG3 rubber as one of the hardest rubbers that I have ever evaluated, being only marginally softer than the TG3 Neo rubber. 

Playing impressions
The DHS Skyline TG3 is an even more traditional Chinese rubber than its Neo counterpart as it is slightly firmer and slower, producing an even more subdued feeling on ball impact. FH drives are rock-solid but slow unless played with significant physical effort. I found myself using larger arm swings, greater hip rotation and/or greater acceleration through the ball than normal to compensate for lower inherent speed. In fact, I could take this to near-ridiculous levels and pound the ball, and still only produce moderate fast drives.

FH loops against backspin require a more open bat angle and/or faster acceleration through the ball, due to the rubber’s low throw angle, which otherwise renders it more likely for the ball to get caught in the net. Opening FH loops against heavy backspin generate high amounts of topspin but less than with the Neo counterpart. High-impact FH loops and loop-drives are powerful due to their long, low and kicking trajectory and the high levels of mechanical spin that can be imparted. In my opinion, this renders the TG3 more dangerous in this aspect of the game than the Neo counterpart. However, the low throw angle and hard nature of this rubber, requires an excellent brushing motion, outstanding footwork, and physical prowess.

DHS Skyline TG3

Just like the Neo version, the rubber can absorb tons of incoming kinetic energy, which facilitates stable blocking. However, the tacky topsheet renders the TG3 sensitive to any sidespin that might be present on loops, which must be compensated for in the form of altered bat angles. Unsurprisingly, the TG3 is not particularly effective for flat hits and smashes. These shots are playable but very slow. Unless you have a spine of steel, muscles like a bodybuilder, and/or an OFF++ blade, you should not expect to make many direct winners from flat hits using the TG3.

Short pushes and touch shots, on the other hand, is an area where the TG3 shines. The hard and slow sponge, in combination with the tacky topsheet, work well together to keep pushes low and spinny. Aggressive service returns can be played with a high level of confidence because of the rubber’s low innate speed and topsheet’s tackiness, guides the ball over the net. Serves with the TG3 – especially short back/side-spin serves – are excellent and can be loaded with a lot of spin. I struggled to get sufficient length on my side/top-spin serves, but more time with this rubber would alleviate this problem. 

Read DHS Skyline 3 Customer Reviews & Get Our Best Price >>


Conclusion 

Like its Neo counterpart, the DHS Skyline TG3 is a rubber for those players who enjoy tacky and hard rubbers for a close-to-the-table and topspin-oriented game style. The TG3 requires the player to be very active and having a fast arm pull as there is no catapult contribution from the rubber. The reward comes in the form of excellent control in the short game, high spin values on serves, and a dangerous trajectory on hard loops and loop-drives. This renders the TG3 as an interesting rubber for beginners as it encourages proper technique. High-level players will also enjoy this rubber, as they can impart tremendous levels of power on their shot, all while maintaining excellent control. 

Serves: 9/10 
Serve receives and short game: 9.5/10
Looping: 9/10
Flat hitting: 7/10 
Blocking: 8.5/10

DHS Skyline 3-60 (2.1 mm, Mid-Hard, 35-37 Degrees, Black) – A Tacky and Higher Throwing Rubber With Considerable Backhand Potential 

The Skyline 3-60 is described as a combination rubber with a classic sticky topsheet and a soft and elastic sponge. DHS states that this combination “provides for excellent elasticity and speed” and “brings a unique sense of depth with ball contact”. DHS recommends Skyline 3-60 for continuous and high strength loop attacks that only require minimal effort. The rubber is packaged in a sturdy, glossy and purple cardboard (not vacuum packaged), which has red- and silver-colored informational text on it. The super tacky topsheet is identical to the other Skyline rubbers reviewed here and is also covered with a thin protective foil.

The uncut sheet weighs 66 g (165 mm x 169 mm, four corners cut) whereas the sheet weighs 50 g when cut to the 158 x 151 mm test blade. Accordingly, the Skyline 3-60 is ~3 grams heavier than the Hurricane 3-50 rubber. The yellow sponge of the Skyline 3-60 differs significantly from those of the other rubbers in this series, in as much it has visible pores. The sponge, which domes slightly, has near-horizontal ripples, is without a tuning layer and has a pungent smell straight out of the box, which subsides quickly, however. The press test suggests that the Skyline 3-60 is marginally softer than a 39-degree Hurricane 3, but noticeably harder than the Hurricane 3-50 rubber. 

Playing impressions 
Heading into this test, I was expecting the Skyline 3-60 to have the same role in the Skyline series, as Hurricane 3-50 has in the Hurricane series, i.e., a significantly softer and more dynamic version with an almost speed-glue like feel. This turned out not to be a fully accurate assumption. Indeed, the feeling on ball impact is slightly softer and mushier than with the TG3 Neo, but there was no hint of a speed-glue like feeling.

FH drives are controlled but they are slower than with the TG3 Neo. FH loops against backspin are easier to execute and have more clearance over the net than with the TG3 rubbers because the softer sponge results in a slightly increased throw angle. However, this, along with the 3-60’s low inherent speed, means that the trajectory is less dangerous. As expected, hard FH brush loops, loop-drives, and counter-topspins result in a flatter trajectory but seem to be less spinny than with the TG3 rubbers. Consequently, they have less kick and penetrating power. I found the Skyline 3-60 to be better suited for BH loops and banana flicks, where the tacky topsheet and softer sponge work well together to lift and spin the ball with a medium-high arc and plenty of safety over the net despite.

Skyline 3-60

Unsurprisingly, flat hits and smashes are not the 3-60’s strong points – these shots are playable but slow. These rubbers are obviously not made for hitters, but for topspin-oriented players. The rubber’s slow speed is beneficial on passive blocking, but the extreme tackiness and softer sponge has a greater impact the trajectory on the ball than with the TG-3 rubbers, and players must keep that in mind and compensate. My passive FH blocks against high-level loops felt less stable than with other DHS rubbers.

Active blocks and mini counter-topspins are playable but also felt less controlled than with the harder TG3 variants, presumably because the softer sponge has a harder time overpowering the incoming topspin. Active and passive service returns can be played with almost the same level of confidence as with the other TG3 rubbers. Pushes are low, spinny and short, albeit it minimally longer than with the TG3’s. Flicks and banana flips are facilitated by the tacky topsheet and low inherent rubber speed. Serves can be loaded with high levels of spin and positioned precisely. I found it a little easier to make long spinny serves with the 3-60 relative to the TG3. 

Serves: 9/10 
Serve receives and short game: 9/10
Looping: 8.5/10
Flat hitting: 7/10 
Blocking: 8/10

Read DHS Skyline 3-60 Customer Reviews & Get Our Best Price >>


Conclusion

The Skyline 3-60 is a slightly more forgiving rubber relative to its TG3 counterparts. FH loops against backspin are easier to execute, especially when played out of position, all while short play and serves still are excellent. Ultimately, I think that the 3-60 is too slow to be useful as a FH rubber for high-level players. In my opinion, the 3-60 is much better suited as a BH rubber as the slightly higher throw and super tacky topsheet enable controlled and spinny BH loops and banana flicks, all while offering the advantages mentioned above. In fact, if I were to play with an inverted BH again, I would give the 3-60 very serious consideration and preference over the Hurricane 3-50, which I think is a little bit too soft for high-level blocking.

Concluding remarks and comparison with the Hurricane 3 rubber line 
The Skyline rubbers are harder, heavier, slower, and lower-throwing than their corresponding Hurricane 3 counterparts. Consequently, it is more difficult to generate high spin on low-impact shots, whereas the spin potential on high-impact shots is as high if not higher, provided the shots can be landed. The lower throw and harder nature reduce the margin for error, and places even higher requirements on the player’s footwork and technique. In an attempt to make direct comparisons, I would say that the TG-3 Neo feels similar to a regular ~39-degree Hurricane 3, whereas the regular TG3 resembles a ~41-degree Hurricane 3. The Skyline 3-60 feels harder and slower than the Hurricane 3-50. 

Inherent speed: Hurricane 3 Neo > Hurricane 3 > Skyline TG-3 Neo > Skyline TG-3 ≥ Hurricane 3-50 > Skyline 3-60
Spin: H3/TG-3 (regular/Neo versions) > H3-50/Skyline 3-60

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