The SAM tennis ball machine model P4 offers a 10 function wireless remote and ball capacity of 300 so that you can get the most out of your tennis practices.
The SAM tennis ball machine Model P4 is produced by Master Sports. This model was formerly known as the Prince Portable Model 4, until January 2006, when Master Sports switched all of the Prince model names over to the SAM brand name. You can read more about SAM ball machines in the SAM section of this website.
In this review, we look at the features offered by the SAM ball machine Model P4 and how it compares to other similar tennis ball machines, overall customer satisfaction, ratings, reviews, and pros and cons. We then offer our own rating and recommendation on whether to purchase the SAM ball machine Model P4.
SAM, which stands for “Sports Action Machine,” currently offers a P1 and a P4 version of its popular portable ball machine. The P1 model runs around $995 and the P4 version is about $1,750, which is a fairly dramatic price difference. The primary reason for this price difference is oscillation and elevation control and the 10 function remote included with the P4.
Are these features worth $700 plus?
We feel that they are. For a quality ball machine that offers enough variety to help you continuously improve your game, we feel that you need these features. As we’ve mentioned in other reviews on this site, we feel that it is essential for a tennis ball machine to be able to deliver the ball at multiple depths on the court automatically. The SAM tennis ball machine model P4 offers electric elevation control and random and two-line sweep/oscillation. This means short shots, long shots, and everything in between, without having to manually go over to the ball machine and adjust its firing elevation. The P1, although economical, offers only a basic random sweep and manual elevation adjustment so balls land at the same depth without variety.
The 10 function remote is also a nice bonus in the SAM tennis ball machine model P4. SAM is the only ball machine we’ve seen under $2,000 that offers such a sophisticated remote control. Basic two-function remotes on other machines generally cost about $200 as an optional add-on. With the SAM ball machine model P4 ten-function remote you can control speed, sweep, elevation, spin, and turn the machine on, off, and pause. These are all great functions to have in a remote.
The SAM ball machine model P4 makes this even more special because it has a 300 ball capacity hopper, which is double the capacity of most ball machines we’ve reviewed. With 300 balls in the hopper, you’re going to want to adjust your workout midway through. Going over to the ball machine a trying to do this manually can be a pain. Using the remote from your side of the court, you can easily switch shot type and continue your workout without delay and without the trial and error associated with manual adjustments.
Here is a list of all of the features found in the SAM tennis ball machine Model P4.
SAM Ball Machine Features Overview
Power Type – The SAM tennis ball machine model P4 comes with a choice of battery or AC power. Battery machines come with a smart charger to maximize the life of the battery. All battery machines can be outfitted with an external 110/220 VAC converter to run off AC electric power for around $106. Also machines can be ordered to operate with both battery and AC power for an additional charge. Battery life is typically 3-4 hours. The P4 comes with a smart battery charger that automatically shuts off when the battery is charged. Most other ball machines offer this as an extra for about $40.
Oscillation – This is a key feature when analyzing tennis ball machines and one of the major factors affecting the cost. The SAM ball machine Model P4 offers random, horizontal and vertical oscillation, which means the machine fires balls randomly back and forth at multiple depth settings. The SAM P4 also offers a two-line feature which send balls to the far outside of the court so that you really have to move and reach to hit forehands and backhands. This is a great way to simulate real play.
Spin control – the SAM tennis ball machine model P4 has a dial in the control panel that lets you control the degree of top spin and backspin.
Elevation control – you have multiple settings to adjust for the angle that the ball is fired from the machine. There is also a lob enhancer attachment available for $52.50 so that the machine will fire balls at a higher elevation when you practice your overhead smashes.
Weight – The SAM P4 weighs 48lbs (21.77kg), which puts it in the midrange of ball machines in terms of weight. The ball machines we’ve reviewed on this site range in weight from 11 lbs (5kg) for a very, very basic ball machine to 90lbs (40.82kg) for a heavy duty commercial type model. 48lbs may be a bit difficult to pick up and put in your car so you may want to ask for help. As for moving around on the ground, the SAM ball machine Model P4 has an extendable towing handle and wheels that help you pull it just like luggage.
Dimensions – The P4 measures a very compact (Length x Width x Height) 18 x 24 x 33 inches (.46 x .61 x .84m).
Speed Range – The SAM ball machine model P4 fires tennis balls between 10-75 mph (16.10-120.70 kph). The ball machines we have reviewed range in speed from 10 mph to 95 mph (152.89 kph), so the SAM P4 falls within the optimal range for speed, however a bit slower on the high end. Children and beginners can easily practice with balls at a speed of 10 mph. Most advanced players will feel challenged by balls coming at 75 mph, however many expert and professional level players may need a machine with speeds over 80 mph.
Ball Capacity – The SAM P4 holds 300 tennis balls. Economy tennis ball machines will hold 50 balls. A 300 ball capacity is the highest of all of the ball machines we have seen and is typically only found in commercial ball machines used in a club or tennis camp setting. This is a huge bonus for the SAM P4 machine.
Feed Rate – this is how fast the balls are fired out of the machine. The SAM tennis ball machine model P4 fires at a rate ranging from 2-7 balls per second. The fastest machine we’ve seen fires at a rate of a ball every 1.5 seconds, and the slowest fires at a rate of a ball every 12 seconds. So, 2-7 seconds, although not ideal, should be sufficient for most players.
Warranty – the SAM ball machine model P4 comes with a one year warranty on parts and service. Most tennis ball machine brands offer a 2 year warranty, which is a term we feel more comfortable with. We have found only one deluxe model that offers a 3 year warranty, and that model is over $3,500.
Extras – Optional extras for SAM ball machines include the following:
- Storage cover – a heavy duty, lined vinyl cover, $94.50. We do not recommend buying this, it’s more expensive than the covers on most models we’ve seen and the SAM P4’s ball hopper flips over and serves as a cover that is more than sufficient.
- Fast charger – charges up the battery faster, $55
Before purchasing, check to see which of these extras are included.
Customer Ratings and Comments
Sites with Customer Reviews Posted (5)
Number of Reviews (6)
Average Score (3.8 out of 5)
|Easy to use (4)||Heavy (1)||Intermediate (5)|
|Improves performance (3)||Ineffective (1)||Casual athlete (3)|
|Great training tool (1)||Remote inconsistent (1)||Professional (3)|
|Unit is heavy (1)||Moving up intermediate (1)|
Summary of Positive Comments: There were some comments about how the SAM ball machine model P4 really fires out the balls with strong topspin, when you crank up the knob setting. A teaching professional also ranked the machine highly for using with students.
Summary of Negative Comments: One user mentioned numerous problems with balls jamming, which was resolved by using different training balls. Others talked about the remote control not being as useful as they thought.
Don’t recommend — Recommend with reservations — Recommend — Strongly Recommend
The SAM tennis ball machine Model P4 is a bit more expensive that other non-commercial type models out there, but it comes packed with great features. Especially nice are the 10 function wireless remote, and the 300 ball hopper capacity. These two unique features as well as the other standard features make the SAM P4 a good buy and one that offers enough practice options for players of all ability levels. That is why we strongly recommend the SAM P4 ball machine.
Where to Buy the SAM Ball Machine Model P4
Amazon sells everything, including tennis ball machines. You can find some really great deals here on other tennis accessories as well. If you’ve ever bought anything on Amazon you also see suggestions based on your previous purchases, as well as numerous consumer product reviews. Amazon is a great resource for shopping for just about anything.
Mercantila.com – $1,751.98
Mercantila offers an exclusive selection of specialty stores offering a wide array of different merchandise ranging from home and garden to fitness and sports. They have in-depth product information, buying guides, and a broad selection of tennis ball machines at affordable prices.
Rate the SAM Ball Machine Model P4 Yourself
If you have tried out this tennis ball machine for yourself, let us know. You can write a review in the comments section and give it a rating below.