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Tibhar Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition Review - A Fast 7-Ply Do-It-All Blade

06 July 2017  | 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
I was given the opportunity to test three of Tabletennis11.com’s most popular blades, i.e., the Tibhar Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition, DHS Power G7, and Donic Ovtcharov True Carbon. Having mostly played with different 5-ply all-wood blades, I was looking forward to expand my horizon and try out two 7-ply blades (DHS and Tibhar) and a modern composite blade (Donic).

Testing procedure
I attached a DHS Hurricane 8 (FH, 2.2 mm, black) and Spinlord Waran (BH, 1.8 mm, red) on each of the blades using Revolution 3 normal viscosity glue. I tested each blade over at least two sessions, playing a mix of simple drills and matches against my regular practice partners using seamless 3-star 40+ plastic balls. I tested the blades in the following order: Tibhar Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition, DHS Power G7, and Donic Ovtcharov True Carbon.

Tibhar Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition - A Fast 7-Ply Do-It-All Blade With an Outstanding Price-Performance Ratio

This blade - which is named after the former world #1, three-time European champion, record 26-times pro-tour winner, 2016 Olympics semi-finalist, and 1997 vice world champion, Vladimir Samsonov – was Tabletennis11.com’s best-selling blade in 2016.

Tibhar Samsonov Force Pro Black EditionPhysical appearance
The Tibhar Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition comes in a relatively simple but functional box that is black with red and silver text. The blade is slightly larger than average (158x151 mm) with a thickness of ~6.6 mm. My specimen was light at 82 g. It is a 7-ply blade with a limba-ayous-ayous-ayous-ayous-ayous-limba construction that also is used in blades such as the Nittaku Ludeack, Stiga Clipper, and the DHS Power G7. The relatively thin core is surrounded by red plies of similar thickness, followed by a fairly thin penultimate layer and rather thick outer layer. The name of the blade is featured on the front of the blade, whereas there is no text on the back. The handle is in modern dark gray, light gray, and white color scheme, with a lens that sports a similar color scheme. A black tag is found on the bottom of the blade. The dimensions of the ST handle (mildly SQST in style) are: length ~102 mm, width ~29.2 mm, and height ~23.2 mm. The wings of the blade are lightly sanded. Consequently, the grip is quite bulky and comfortable, but people with smaller hands might find that the handle is big. On first sight, the build quality appears to be excellent, but closer inspection revealed what appeared to be an inconsistent thickness of the core ply and a small splinter in the outer ply. However, I did not feel any inconsistencies during game play.

Playing impressions
The first couple of FH drives quickly revealed that the Tibhar Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition is a blade at the slower end of the OFF range. Regular FH drives are fast and can be played with a high level of control, while FH drives played with higher swing speeds produce a satisfying cracking sound and feeling with the DHS H8. BH drives with the Waran short pips provide perhaps the best balance of speed, control, and crisp feeling that I had experienced with any set-up up until this point. The blade offers an interesting mix of stiffness, speed, and impact softness, that results in a clearly felt ball impact, medium dwell time, and a fast yet controlled response. I was a little worried that the blade’s greater stiffness might adversely impact FH loops, but these concerns turned out to be unfounded. Slower and spinny opening FH loops, as well as fast flat loop drives can be played with a high sense of control and sufficient clearance over the net, even though the throw angles of the H8/Waran clearly are slightly lower than with more flexible blades. Slow loops perhaps lack a couple of percent in spin relatively to slower and more flexible blades, and FH loop drives perhaps lack a couple of percent in top speed relative to very fast blades like the Victas Koki Niwa, but the ability to do both at 95% of maximum spin/speed is gratifying. The stiffness, average dwell time, medium to medium-low throw angle, and relatively high innate speed of the Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition render it a pleasure to play FH and BH flat hits. I found myself wanting to decide more points via flat hits than via loop drives, which usually is my preference when playing with more flexible blades. The resulting flat hits were deadly, yet controlled. I made similar observations in the blocking game, especially on the BH side. On most other blades that I have tried, blocking with the Waran short pips has proven to be very dependent on proper timing; with the Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition, I had substantially better control on my blocks, with greater forgiveness on suboptimal timing. It is as if the seven plies and the stiffness of the blade absorb the brunt of the incoming kinetic energy, and allow to return the ball in a fast, flat and controlled manner. FH blocks were similarly crisp and controlled. Aggressive serve returns were easy to play and facilitated by the robustness of the blade. The short game with this blade is very good since it feels fairly slow on low impact shots – pushes can be played short with excellent control. The blade provides sufficient dwell time to enable spin production on serves that only is a fraction less than with more flexible blades.


Conclusion
This is an excellent blade that allows for a balanced game style with equal parts looping, hitting, and blocking, while still providing excellent feeling and control for serves and touch play. It is suitable for play close to the table as well as mid-distance. The use of a European or Japanese rubber in the FH will result in a lightning fast set-up that will require skills to handle. This is a blade for intermediate players and upwards, including those who want a blade with more power than regular 5-ply all-wood blades, and more control and woody feeling than modern composite blades. Finally, the Tibhar Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition has an outstanding price/performance ratio, which explains its popularity.

Read Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition Customer Reviews & Get Our Price >> 


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DHS Power G7 Review - A Moderately Fast 7-Ply Do-It-All Blade

This blade - which is named after the former world #1, three-time European champion, record 26-times pro-tour winner, 2016 Olympics semi-finalist, and 1997 vice world champion, Vladimir Samsonov – was Tabletennis11.com’s best-selling blade in 2016[PJH1] .

Physical appearance: The Tibhar Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition comes in a relatively simple but functional box that is black with red and silver text. The blade is slightly larger than average (158x151 mm) with a thickness of ~6.6 mm. My specimen was light at 82 g. It is a 7-ply blade with a limba-ayous-ayous-ayous-ayous-ayous-limba construction that also is used in blades such as the Nittaku Ludeack, Stiga Clipper[PJH2] , and the DHS Power G7. The relatively thin core is surrounded by red plies of similar thickness, followed by a fairly thin penultimate layer and rather thick outer layer. The name of the blade is featured on the front of the blade, whereas there is no text on the back. The handle is in modern dark gray, light gray, and white color scheme, with a lens that sports a similar color scheme. A black tag is found on the bottom of the blade. The dimensions of the ST handle (mildly SQST in style) are: length ~102 mm, width ~29.2 mm, and height ~23.2 mm. The wings of the blade are lightly sanded. Consequently, the grip is quite bulky and comfortable, but people with smaller hands might find that the handle is big. On first sight, the build quality appears to be excellent, but closer inspection revealed what appeared to be an inconsistent thickness of the core ply and a small splinter in the outer ply. However, I did not feel any inconsistencies during game play.

Unboxing: https://youtu.be/GSlcWkyyLCU

Playing impressions: The first couple of FH drives quickly revealed that the Tibhar Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition is a blade at the slower end of the OFF range. Regular FH drives are fast and can be played with a high level of control, while FH drives played with higher swing speeds produce a satisfying cracking sound and feeling with the DHS H8. BH drives with the Waran short pips provide perhaps the best balance of speed, control, and crisp feeling that I had experienced with any set-up up until this point. The blade [PJH2] offers an interesting mix of stiffness, speed, and impact softness, that results in a clearly felt ball impact, medium dwell time, and a fast yet controlled response. I was a little worried that the blade’s greater stiffness might adversely impact FH loops, but these concerns turned out to be unfounded. Slower and spinny opening FH loops, as well as fast flat loop drives can be played with a high sense of control and sufficient clearance over the net, even though the throw angles of the H8/Waran clearly are slightly lower than with more flexible blades. Slow loops perhaps lack a couple of percent in spin relatively to slower and more flexible blades, and FH loop drives perhaps lack a couple of percent in top speed relative to very fast blades like the Victas Koki Niwa[PJH3] , but the ability to do both at 95% of maximum spin/speed is gratifying. The stiffness, average dwell time, medium to medium-low throw angle, and relatively high innate speed of the Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition render it a pleasure to play FH and BH flat hits. I found myself wanting to decide more points via flat hits than via loop drives, which usually is my preference when playing with more flexible blades. The resulting flat hits were deadly, yet controlled. I made similar observations in the blocking game, especially on the BH side. On most other blades that I have tried, blocking with the Waran short pips has proven to be very dependent on proper timing; with the Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition, I had substantially better control on my blocks, with greater forgiveness on suboptimal timing. It is as if the seven plies and the stiffness of the blade absorb the brunt of the incoming kinetic energy, and allow to return the ball in a fast, flat and controlled manner. FH blocks were similarly crisp and controlled. Aggressive serve returns were easy to play and facilitated by the robustness of the blade. The short game with this blade is very good since it feels fairly slow on low impact shots – pushes can be played short with excellent control. The blade provides sufficient dwell time to enable spin production on serves that only is a fraction less than with more flexible blades.        

Conclusion: This is an excellent blade that allows for a balanced game style with equal parts looping, hitting, and blocking, while still providing excellent feeling and control for serves and touch play. It is suitable for play close to the table as well as mid-distance. The use of a European or Japanese rubber in the FH will result in a lightning fast set-up that will require skills to handle. This is a blade for intermediate players and upwards, including those who want a blade with more power than regular 5-ply all-wood blades, and more control and woody feeling than modern composite blades.  Finally, the Tibhar Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition has an outstanding price/performance ratio, which explains its popularity.  


 [PJH2]Insert product links

 [PJH3]Link to review or productThis blade - which is named after the former world #1, three-time European champion, record 26-times pro-tour winner, 2016 Olympics semi-finalist, and 1997 vice world champion, Vladimir Samsonov – was Tabletennis11.com’s best-selling blade in 2016 . 

Physical appearance: The Tibhar Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition comes in a relatively simple but functional box that is black with red and silver text. The blade is slightly larger than average (158x151 mm) with a thickness of ~6.6 mm. My specimen was light at 82 g. It is a 7-ply blade with a limba-ayous-ayous-ayous-ayous-ayous-limba construction that also is used in blades such as the Nittaku Ludeack, Stiga Clipper , and the DHS Power G7. The relatively thin core is surrounded by red plies of similar thickness, followed by a fairly thin penultimate layer and rather thick outer layer. The name of the blade is featured on the front of the blade, whereas there is no text on the back. The handle is in modern dark gray, light gray, and white color scheme, with a lens that sports a similar color scheme. A black tag is found on the bottom of the blade. The dimensions of the ST handle (mildly SQST in style) are: length ~102 mm, width ~29.2 mm, and height ~23.2 mm. The wings of the blade are lightly sanded. Consequently, the grip is quite bulky and comfortable, but people with smaller hands might find that the handle is big. On first sight, the build quality appears to be excellent, but closer inspection revealed what appeared to be an inconsistent thickness of the core ply and a small splinter in the outer ply. However, I did not feel any inconsistencies during game play.

Unboxing: https://youtu.be/GSlcWkyyLCU 

Playing impressions: The first couple of FH drives quickly revealed that the Tibhar Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition is a blade at the slower end of the OFF range. Regular FH drives are fast and can be played with a high level of control, while FH drives played with higher swing speeds produce a satisfying cracking sound and feeling with the DHS H8. BH drives with the Waran short pips provide perhaps the best balance of speed, control, and crisp feeling that I had experienced with any set-up up until this point. The blade  offers an interesting mix of stiffness, speed, and impact softness, that results in a clearly felt ball impact, medium dwell time, and a fast yet controlled response. I was a little worried that the blade’s greater stiffness might adversely impact FH loops, but these concerns turned out to be unfounded. Slower and spinny opening FH loops, as well as fast flat loop drives can be played with a high sense of control and sufficient clearance over the net, even though the throw angles of the H8/Waran clearly are slightly lower than with more flexible blades. Slow loops perhaps lack a couple of percent in spin relatively to slower and more flexible blades, and FH loop drives perhaps lack a couple of percent in top speed relative to very fast blades like the Victas Koki Niwa , but the ability to do both at 95% of maximum spin/speed is gratifying. The stiffness, average dwell time, medium to medium-low throw angle, and relatively high innate speed of the Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition render it a pleasure to play FH and BH flat hits. I found myself wanting to decide more points via flat hits than via loop drives, which usually is my preference when playing with more flexible blades. The resulting flat hits were deadly, yet controlled. I made similar observations in the blocking game, especially on the BH side. On most other blades that I have tried, blocking with the Waran short pips has proven to be very dependent on proper timing; with the Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition, I had substantially better control on my blocks, with greater forgiveness on suboptimal timing. It is as if the seven plies and the stiffness of the blade absorb the brunt of the incoming kinetic energy, and allow to return the ball in a fast, flat and controlled manner. FH blocks were similarly crisp and controlled. Aggressive serve returns were easy to play and facilitated by the robustness of the blade. The short game with this blade is very good since it feels fairly slow on low impact shots – pushes can be played short with excellent control. The blade provides sufficient dwell time to enable spin production on serves that only is a fraction less than with more flexible blades.        

Conclusion: This is an excellent blade that allows for a balanced game style with equal parts looping, hitting, and blocking, while still providing excellent feeling and control for serves and touch play. It is suitable for play close to the table as well as mid-distance. The use of a European or Japanese rubber in the FH will result in a lightning fast set-up that will require skills to handle. This is a blade for intermediate players and upwards, including those who want a blade with more power than regular 5-ply all-wood blades, and more control and woody feeling than modern composite blades.  Finally, the Tibhar Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition has an outstanding price/performance ratio, which explains its popularity.