The P1 SAM tennis ball machine offers great features and a killer workout for under $1,000. For an economy tennis ball machine the SAM P1 is a great buy.

sam-ball-machine-p1In this review, we look at the features offered by the SAM tennis ball machine Model P1 and how it compares to other similar tennis ball machines. We then analyze the P1 SAM tennis ball machine based on overall customer satisfaction, ratings, reviews, and positive and negative consumer comments. We also offer our own rating and recommendation on whether to purchase the P1 SAM ball machine.

The SAM tennis ball machine Model P1 is manufactured by Master Sports Inc, which produces a total of eight different ball machine models. SAM stands for “Sports Action Machine.” The SAM P1 Model was formerly known as the Prince Portable Model 1, until January 2006, when Master Sports switched all of the Prince model names over to the SAM brand. All features of the models were kept the same. You can read more about SAM ball machines in the SAM section of our website.

Since we have already reviewed the SAM ball machine model P4, we can compare the two models. The P4 costs about $1,750 and the P1 is $995 (USD). In our P4 review we recommend going with the P4 over the P1 because we feel that the extra cost of the P4 is justified by the extra features that it offers. For example, the P4 offers horizontal, vertical and random oscillation. The P1 SAM ball machine offers only horizontal and random oscillation. The P4 also has a two-line feature where the tennis ball machine alternates balls from one side of the court to the other so that a single player can work on alternating forehand and backhand shots, or two lines of players can drill. The P1 does not have that function.

The P4 also comes with a 10 function remote, which is rare with a tennis ball machine under $2,000. The P1 only has a two function remote which costs extra.

Given the feature differences between the two machines, we recommend spending the extra $750 to get the P4. However, $750 is still a lot of money for many people, so if you can’t afford the P4 SAM tennis ball machine, then most definitely, the P1 is still a great buy at $995. It is rare to see a tennis ball machine packed with features for under $1,000. The P1 is the only tennis ball machine under $1,000 that offers random and horizontal oscillation, spin control, and a 300 ball hopper capacity.

Here is a list of all of the features you’ll find in the Model P1 SAM tennis ball machine.


SAM Ball Machine Model P1 Features Overview

Power Type – The P1 SAM tennis ball machine comes battery powered, with a standard battery life of 3-4 hours, or can be custom ordered with AC/electrical power. You can get a fast charger for $55 which will charge the tennis ball machine faster. There is also an AC converter ($178.50) which is compatible with US 110 volts and European 220 volts current. The converter allows the battery-powered ball machine to run on electricity while maintaining a full charge. It is also one of the only converters on the market that works when the battery charge is low or dead.

The P1 SAM tennis ball machine control panel.

The P1 SAM tennis ball machine control panel.

Spin control – the P1 SAM ball machine has a dial on the control panel that lets you control the degree of top spin and backspin.

Weight – The P1 SAM tennis ball machine weighs 48lbs (21.77kg). 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 is not terribly difficult to pick up and put in your car however you may want to ask for help. As for moving around on the ground, the P1 SAM tennis ball machine has an extendable towing handle and heavy duty oversized transport wheels that help you pull it just like luggage.

Dimensions – The P1 SAM tennis ball machine measures a very compact (Length x Width x Height) 18 x 24 x 33 inches (.46 x .61 x .84m). The hopper on the P1 can easily be inverted and the handle pushed in to fit into the trunk of your car where the machine height becomes 22” (.56m). The hopper can also serve as a convenient cover.

Speed Range – The P1 SAM tennis ball machine 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 P1 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.

The SAM ball machine ready for transport.

The SAM ball machine ready for transport.

Ball Capacity– The SAM ball machine Model P1 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 P1 machine, especially at a price under $1,000.

Feed Rate – this is how fast the balls are fired out of the machine. The P1 SAM tennis ball machine fires at a rate ranging from 2-7 balls per second. The fastest firing time we’ve seen in a tennis ball machine is one ball every 1.5 seconds and the slowest is one ball every 12 seconds. So, 2-7 seconds, although not ideal, should be sufficient for most players.

Warranty – the P1 SAM ball machine comes with a one year warranty on parts and service. Most tennis ball machine brands offer a 2 year warranty although some offer only a one year. We have found that only deluxe models over $3,500 offer a 3 year warranty.

Extras – Optional extras for the P1 SAM tennis ball machine include the following:

  • Lob Enhancer – This tool attaches to the ball machine and creates lobs that can sky very high. A great may to practice your smash, we recommend adding this tool to your purchase for only $52.50.
  • Remote Control – SAM offers a remote with a 100-foot lead that be used to change speed, and feed rate for $150. We generally don’t like non-wireless remotes as the lead can be a pain and its more wires to have to deal with, so unless you feel you absolutely have to have a remote, we generally don’t recommend this one.


Customer Ratings and Comments

Sites with Customer Reviews Posted (6)
Number of Reviews (17)
Average Score (4.1 out of 5)

Pros: Cons: Best Uses:
Easy to use (16) Heavy/Bulky (4) Intermediate (16)
Improves performance (14) Battery charger status (1) Casual athlete (14)
Built to last (1)   Professional (4)


Summary of Positive Comments: Many reviewers commented on how durable and strong the P1 SAM ball machine is, and that it works well in high usage situations, and is really able to take a pounding. Others like the variety of the controls, and how easy to use the machine is.

Summary of Negative Comments: Several reviewers said the P1 was great for intermediate and below level players but not powerful enough for advanced and expert level players. One comment mentioned that the battery charger light was not always correct. A few had trouble adjusting the trajectory. There were also some mentions that the P1 was hard to pick up and move, and could be more compact.


The Verdict

Don’t recommend — Recommend with reservations — Recommend — Strongly Recommend

We really like the Model P1 SAM Tennis Ball Machine taking into account the features it offers for price. It’s really a great bargain and we feel it is the best ball machine you can get for under $1,000. The only real issue we have is that we would like to see vertical oscillation and faster speed on the upper end. As we mentioned, 75 mph is a bit slower than we like to see, and many advanced to expert players may need more.

Other than those issues though, if you are an intermediate level player or lower looking for a bargain priced entry level tennis ball machine then the Model P1 SAM tennis ball machine is the way to go. For more advanced players, you would probably be better served with a more advanced machine. But if you’re on a budget, then for the price, the SAM P1 can still give you a good work-out, and is a great buy.


Best Places to Buy the Model P1 SAM Tennis Ball Machine– $995.00
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.


Rate the Model P1 SAM Tennis Ball Machine 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.

More About the SAM Tennis Ball Machine

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