(by Steve Hopkins, review was originally published 11/2019)
I have been playing with Dignics 05 since early April, so this wasn’t my first experience with the new Butterfly brand. In fact, one great benefit of Dignics is that I have been using the same sheets of Dignics 05 since April, so that 7 months of usage is about twice as long as most other rubber sheets for me.
As a 2000-and-change level player, my analysis and comparison of equipment has limits. I don’t have the arm speed of the pros, and I don’t rely on powerful loops or try to drive the ball through my opponent – so my review is on how this equipment works for me in a competitive setting. I’m an all-around or control player that uses precise shots to set up high-percentage points. I vary spin and speed, and my attacking shots generally occur when the other player has made a mistake or as a counter attack using my opponent’s power against them. We’ve all read the marketing materials for these rubber sheets – so we know they were designed to be lethal in the hands of the right table tennis assassin. The purpose of a non-pro review is to share how this amazing technology works in the hands of a more typical tournament player.
I expected the two new Dignics sheets to feel very much like Dignics 05, but this isn’t really the case. Both Dignics 64 and Dignics 80 felt smoother or “slicker” on the surface. I also felt that the rubber took a little more effort to glue – especially along the edges which I will attribute to some aspect of the rubber or sponge being lighter. I applied weight to the completed paddle and allowed a little extra time to dry, making sure the connection of blade and sponge was secure to the edges.
I also expected both of the Dignics sheets to be too fast for me. I had previously tried Tenergy 64 and Tenergy 80 and I had been much more consistent with Tenergy 05 in comparison – landing more shots both flat and with spin. The Dignics rubbers really turn the ball over with spin shots and create lots of late movement – which is a downward arc for most topspin shots. This allowed me to play with both sheets without feeling like balls were flying off the end of the table or that the arc was too low sending balls into the net.
I found Dignics 64, the lowest arc of the three, to be controllable without any changes to my swing. It has strong blocks, and can create great amounts of underspin. There is good control for short service returns. I was surprised at the ability to use flat shots to return loops – sometimes using an easy flat shot with pace almost like warm-ups and seeing the ball leave the blade as if it was an aggressive block. This worked at distance as a place-holder in points, and worked as an attacking shot near the table. The best result I found was with Dignics 64 on my backhand I was able to hit a very strong closed loop and this was a makeable shot from both over the table and from distance. The low arc of the rubber kept the ball low, but the spin of the rubber caused late movement (downward) and I found a number of aggressive winners from table positions that are normally much softer shots for me.
I found Dignics 80 played like a slightly harder version of Dignics 05 for me. I equate this to the differences I felt between Tenergy 05 and Tenergy 05 Hard. I was able to play with basically the same swing, hit basically the same shots, and had basically the same results. The difference is that the arc of the shots was a little lower, the ball landed a little deeper, and the path of the ball after the bounce stayed a little lower. I did not notice an appreciable difference with serves. I do feel that the 80 is better with short service returns – delivering both more spin and keeping the ball lower and shorter while having very limited contact with the ball during those short strokes.
I like Dignics 05 a lot (with its great top spin to top spin rallying and control), but as an aging player I am still putting a premium on aggressive shots and the ability to end those rallies as well. For now, I’m going to play with Dignics 80 on my forehand (to turn up the speed just a little and improve my short service returns) and Dignics 64 on the backhand (to create some extra offense from angles unavailable to me before). I’ll see you on the tables.