Bushnell NEO XS GPS Watch Review

For the past two years, Bushnell Golf has really honed in on perfecting the watch-based golf GPS market and THP has had reviews on both of their previous devices, the Bushnell NEO+ GPS Watch and Bushnell NEO-X GPS Watch. With each version, the company has continued to push the boundaries on the functionality of a wrist-worn GPS as well as the appearance and features.

Click on each picture for larger image

For 2014, Bushnell is introducing their newest watch GPS, the NEO XS.

Information on the Neo-XS GPS Watch from Bushnell:

Thin, comfortable, long battery life and up to 4 hazard distances per hole.

While the NEO-X offered golfers more battery life than any other GPS watch available, the new NEO XS delivers even more benefits with one button press such as shot distance, four hazards and round odometer, while providing over three rounds of battery life. Additionally, when the product is functioning solely in watch mode, the battery can last 24 months without needing a recharge.

The latest product to join the Bushnell family of devices offering Distance Made Simple is the NEO XS. Bushnell’s lightest and thinnest golf watch is simple to operate and comfortable to wear, giving golfer’s easy to read front/back/center, hazard and shot distance measurements on over 33,000 preloaded courses with no membership fees.

The NEO XS Golf GPS Watch is capable of instantly recognizing courses and has an auto hole advance feature which automatically changes from one hole to the next, meaning the user does not have to push another button the entire round. And while the golfer is out on the course, the odometer feature allows you to track distance, speed, and total activity time.

Play Longer:

  • Play over three rounds between charges

Ready for Play:

  • Over 33,000+ courses in over 30 countries preloaded for instant use
  •  No Membership or Download Fees

Smart Round Features:

  • Auto course recognition and auto hole advance
  • Easy-to-Read Front/Center/Back Distances
  • Hazard layup distances (up to four per hole)
  • Shot distance calculator
  • Round time and distance info
  • Tee time auto-on & battery-saving auto-off
  • Odometer, timer, stopwatch, alarm

Available in three colors (Black/Yellow, Charcoal/Orange, White/Cobalt), the NEO XS Golf GPS Watch will be available at Bushnell retailers nationwide mid-February, with a retail price of $199.99.

Design and Setup

The new NEO-XS GPS watch continues on the path of evolution which Bushnell set into effect with the NEO+ and NEO-X models. Again, they have managed to take what was already a very streamlined device and make it even more effective and ergonomic. The NEO-XS is not a dramatic redesign or anything of that nature, but rather Bushnell has taken the philosophy of building off of what they already have in place.

The most noticeable thing about NEO-XS compared to the two models before it is the move to a more circular overall design, essentially much more of a traditional wristwatch appearance to most people’s eyes compared to the square look of the NEO+ and NEO-X. Along with the rounded face design, Bushnell has again tweaked the overall size of the GPS and the weight of the device is honestly not very noticeable on the course or through the swing. The band on the unit forms well to the contour of the user’s wrist and offers plenty of length options for users of all sizes. Ergonomically speaking, the NEO-XS is an incredibly well rounded package.

As far as setup is concerned, with the NEO-XS it is literally as simple as pulling the unit out of the box and charging it up for use. The charging system is via the USB cable included, which features the spring loaded clipping mechanism that matches up with inputs on the rear of the watch. After a full charge the unit is ready to head to the course.

Performance and Convenience

Performance is the standard by which all GPS units, golf or not, are judged by and Bushnell has again produced a GPS watch that performs as advertised in both general ease of use and accuracy. Putting the NEO-XS into play is quite literally as simple as putting the watch on, pressing the golf button, and then selecting “Play Golf”. From there the unit will connect to GPS systems and locate nearby courses. After the unit picks up the course options, simply pick the correct course and you are ready to go.

The NEO-XS does feature automatic hole advances as you play through your round based on your geographic location on the course. Should you need to advance to a specific hole because of starting the round at the turn, the arrow buttons on the right side of the unit allow for easy hole changes. In time spent with the NEO-XS it did an impressive job of auto-advancing only when on or near the next tee box and playing from other fairways did not cause the unit to switch by itself.

The automatic display on the watch during the round is the front, middle, and back distances of the green on the current hole from whatever location the user is at during that point in time. Additionally, by pressing the middle button on the right hand side of the unit the NEO-XS will provide up to four hazard locations that are illustrated by various three letter codes (all explained in the instructions, but generally really easy to figure out without much thought) followed by the distance to that hazard. The watch also has the on-course ability to measure shots from one point to another with a press of a button. All told, when compared to other GPS units, laser devices and demarcation points throughout the course, the general distance read-outs showed to be incredibly accurate, something most have come to expect from Bushnell devices.

There are a few “extras” as it pertains to the NEO-XS which are honestly nice bonuses to the simple effectiveness and accuracy which it boasts. An auto-off timer makes it possible to conserve the impressive battery life (during review up to four rounds were played on one charge) so that the unit will disconnect from the GPS Satellites after a given timeframe. There is also a pedometer that tracks both the total time of your current round as well as the overall distance you have travelled, an especially nice feature for walkers. Lastly, the “Tee Time Start” feature returns from the NEO-X and gives the user the ability to pre-program the watch for future tee times so that the unit will automatically turn on GPS seven minutes before the tee time and be ready to go.

Final Thoughts

As a golfer who was admittedly somewhat resistant to the possible usefulness of a GPS watch entering this review, the time spent with the NEO-XS has definitely altered that point of view. With the XS model Bushnell has again affirmed that the GPS watch has a strong future with their continued advancement in design and use. The ability to simply look down at ones wrist and get the numbers necessary to confidently pull the proper club from the bag is as easy as it gets. Although the NEO-XS doesn’t offer a scorecard feature or the flashiest interface, it does what it is intended to do and does it very well. For anyone considering a new GPS unit for the course, Bushnell’s NEO lineup should certainly be on their short list to try out.

For more information on the NEO-XS and all of Bushnell’s golf distance measuring products, be sure to look at their website, www.bushnellgolf.com.

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  • Great review James, glad to hear the accuracy known to the Bushnell name has carried forward into this device. Not my cup of tea, but I Think there will be plenty of people looking into this one for sure.

  • Nicely done James! I like the simplistic approach to these. I don’t need the bells and whistles that larger GPS units offer. Give me a number and let’s get down to playing some golf.

  • Another great review Jman, I am really starting to think one of these Bushnell GPS Watches would be the perfect compliment for my laser rangefinder. You have me pondering buddy.

  • Great review, James. I’m one that doesn’t wear a watch in general, let alone while I’m golfing, but this one has me intrigued, especially with how ergonomic you say it is. I especially like the part where being on the wrong fairway doesn’t auto-advance holes… a “friend” of mine would find that feature very useful. Sounds like this watch would help a lot of people get distances quickly, and possibly speed up rounds, which is a win for everyone!

  • Thanks for the review James. I currently have a GPS watch, and it was a complete game-changer for me. That being said, this one appears lighter, has more features, and twice the battery life. So, I guess, ponder on….

  • Big fan of previous versions and glad to see continued improvements. Great job James.

  • Great review James. After reading that and hearing how easy and accurate the watch is, I will be picking one if these up as soon as I can.

  • I want one as it would be so cool to be able to walk anywhere to your ball and have the yardage right there with ya. My old golf buddy still works but this would be the ticket!

  • Fantastic review here James and not surprised in the least how much you enjoy this. I love my Neo-X but would enjoy the XS for the color options and EOF number.

    Such a fantastic unit that is very affordable and extremely helpful on the course.

    Couldn’t imagine golfing without it!

  • Excellent review James, looks like a great little device. So much great information coming out of a small gps unit.

  • Great review, James. Still on the fence on wearing a watch while I golf, but seems like a solid device.

  • Very helpful review James! Cannot wait to get my hands on one of these!

  • I much prefer an actual handheld size unit (that I attach to the cart!) but these would be perfect for when someone needs to be dropped off and the cart leaves or when you are dropped off and need to find your ball.

    I don’t do watches at all, but for certain times, this would be so handy.

  • There is nothing wrong with my Neo X at all, but I think I’d be willing to swap up for this version in a second! The color options are nice, and thinner and lighter, too??

  • Great review, covered concerns I had with the watch completely and now is something I’ll be looking at for the upcoming season.

  • Great write up James and I don’t think there is anything that this GPS watch is missing that I’d need on the course.

    This watch is a must buy when the season opens up here in a month or so as I’m tired of using my phone and it being dead when the round comes to an end.

  • Good review! Glad to see they enlarged the buttons. Also increased no. of rounds is a real plus.

    My Neo-x has lessened my pondering and improved my round average.

    Age and declining eye sight makes owning a GPS devise pretty much a necessity for me, and I prefer the watch over other devices. It is handy, accurate, gives me all the info I need and I wear a watch anyway.

    I also own a Garmin, but never use it because my Neo-X is better in a number of ways.

    Although I personally prefer the semi square design of my Neo-x, if in the market I would seriously be considering this watch because of the enlarged buttons and increase in playing time capacity.


  • I have purchased the NEO XS. I really like the watch but when I tried to update courses/check for firmware updates using their web site it was awful (http://www.bushnell.igolf.com) I’d like you review that aspect of the watch. I went through the process of registering for an account and installing the drivers and S/W but it’s a dead end, there is way to search for courses but you can’t upload them, gives bad error messages that aren’t helpful Also, there is nothing where you can check for firmware updates. Maybe there aren’t any yet but the site should at least note that your device is up-to-date. I’m gonna have to call Bushnell to figure this out. Please give it a try and see if you have the same bad experience as I did. The watch is really nice but if you ever have to update it look out because you end up in the hazard quickly.

  • Also, I initially bought the Black/Yellow version but had to return it for the Charcoal/Orange. I could barely see the numbers on the Black/Yellow version. The version you reviewed (Charcoal/Orange) version is much easier to see, the White version also uses the same display so it is okay also.

  • Having read a number of reviews now on the Neo XS it is somewhat frustrating that while all say that the watch is light, none say what the weight actually is or what the dimensions of the display are (in plan or thickness). I also can not find this information on the product web site. Can anyone assist?

  • Well I am getting the watch in a week when it’s delivered so reading the review just gave me some comfort.

  • I do not wear a watch on or off the course and found other range finders to be too much work to be practical. I bought this on a whim due to a full refund offered by the store if I did not like it in 3 months. The first time out, I was hooked. Distance on your wrist is so very valuable. it is easy to use, so light and comfortable, you do not even know it is on. Screen is simple and intuitive.

    Give this thing a try, you will not regret it. it is an amazing little device and well worth the money.

  • I have a Neo that I purchased several years ago and it has worked fine, but is wearing out! How can I find a listing of the courses for the new Neo XS GPS watch? I play a small business man’s course in South Jersey and need to know if it is listed? The course is called Eastlyn, in Vineland Jersey. Please help, thank you.

  • Charles – EastLyn is listed, I just checked 🙂

    I bought this watch last week, I’ve not used my laser range finder since! The strap is like a very soft almost silky rubber so you hardly even notice that you’re wearing it. It is so useful to have and far quicker to use than the laser finder (which may find itself on eBay now)

  • I like the design and features very much, although a scorecard would be great. igolf is quick in reply when requesting another course file, that is great.

    But I do not understand the SW update process. On the http://www.bushnell.igolf.com website after having installed all drivers etc you can only download single courses at once. You cannot update the firmware and it does not show which courses are already loaded.

  • I am not so optimistic. Used it on several courses, and although the gps is accurate, the database isn’t. On the igolf website it lacks to say which date the latest map has. So everytime you need to update before playing.

    If a course has multiple loops you need to load them one by one. Why not you favorite or at least the course in one update. Also the buttons are easily pressed, so you unwillingly skip to the next hole a lot.

    The hazards are a nice bonus, but you need to pass them before it shows the next, so if there is a bunker 2 meters in front of you it doesn’t show the ones after that.

    Reply from Igolf is quick, but i am going to check the garmin S2.

  • Also the update connection process on a MAC is somewhat difficult and looks outdated.

  • Piece of junk, sorry I wasted my money. I’ve had this device for a week now and have been unable to use it. Tried to use it ‘out of the box’ at my local course, all the ranges were wrong, it even had the 13th or 14th hole at 17 yards, yes that’s right 17 yards.

    When I go to the igolf website and try to install my device so that I can update my local course, I get as far as the “Detecting Device” dialogue box, then nothing, it just hangs there trying to ‘Detect Device’. Device is connected, it tells me so, it also charges but nothing else.

    Spent all of last night in a very stilted e-mail conversation with their help desk, no luck at all, I gave up after midnight as I had to get up at 5:00 in the morning, they’re on San Diego time, I’m on UK time.

    Tried phoning them tonight, three times, each time I get a recorded message telling me that calls will be answered in the order they come in, I’m number 4 in the queue, after several minutes, I’m number 3 in the queue, several more minutes go by and I’m number 2 in the queue, several minutes later, hey, I’m at number 1 in the queue, then comes the best part,,,, wait for it,,,, I get a recorded message telling me that they are closed on the 9th June for training purposes (but this is the 10th of June) and for me to please leave a detailed message and someone from tech support will get back to me.

    Guess what, left a message, they also have my e-mail address from yesterday, and no one gets back to me.

    I cannot recommend this product to anyone, and I will actively discourage my friends and family from purchasing their junk in the future.

    Guess I should have gone with Garmin in the first place, at least last time I used them and had an issue with my car sat nav, their tech support got me up and running in under an hour, AND called back when they said they would.

  • I bought this watch yesterday and used it for one round at my local course. I found it to be awesome! I have used laser range finders for years and it was always kind of a pain to take it out of the case and shoot the hazard or pin. Yesterday I just walked up to the ball and I had all the yardages I needed. I am not that good of a golfer that I need yardages to more than a couple of hazards. I found it to be quite accurate as I was comparing it to yardage markers on the course. It also has a feature that measures my shot distance which is really helpful since I have new irons and I am trying to figure them out.

    I do agree that the website is flawed. I could not connect to update the watch. Thats not a big deal to me, hopefully they will fix it soon.

  • I bought the Bushnell Neo XS about three weeks ago and have played 3 rounds with it on three different courses. All were recognized easily. The display dimension are 7/8″ x 7/8″ (21 mm x 21 mm)and its thickness at the display surface is ~9/16″ (~14.5 mm). I don’t have a postage scale but I’d estimate the weight at 2-3 oz. It’s comfortable to wear while playing (almost not aware it’s there), easy to use, and updates distances quickly (1-2 seconds after becoming stationary). It has a hell of a battery life, but I too have had trouble trying to get igolf.com to recognize the watch to try to check for firmware updates or course information, which really concerns me. Can the pre-loaded course info really never be updated? No ability to update firmware? Here’s the reply I got from igolf.com after an email to Bushnell and a preliminary email to igolf.com.

    “The NeoXS watch does not have a full sync function. It comes pre-loaded and ready to use. Did you experience a specific error on a particular course?

    You may want to ask more questions than I did before buying this watch but I’ve had no problem at all with it through the first three weeks of use. It is really handy to have the distance to the pin and the front/back of the green available at a glance on every fairway shot. Ask me again in a year if I like it.

  • My concern is that when I charge it and play a round, I then shut it off. I week later if I go to play another round, the batteries is no longer charged.

  • I love the watch, but hate the interface. Bushnell was quick to correct a flaw with my local course, but trying to set this thing up on a Mac is near impossible. I give up and will use without updates. Really poor of these guys.

  • I appreciate your review; however, I think you missed an important elimant out.

    The watch comes with a dark or light background. The lighter background is much easier to see. Bushnell “updated” the watch. You cannot change from one to the other.

    Bushnell does not mention this on their website, but a technician told me. Obviously so they could sell the older versions first. Leaving info out (as Bushnell did) is misleading. I am very disappointed in their integrity.

  • Hi has anybody else had the problem with seeing the background on the black watch?, I’m looking into buying this watch and much prefer the black one to the grey but after reading a few bad comments I’m kinda worried, thanks for any help you can give with this

  • I agree with Rob. Setting this NEO XS up on a Mac is mind numbingly painful… I still have not got it done. A brand like Bushnell , i would expect more. Not played a round of golf with the watch but as it stands I am not impressed.

  • I love my Neo XS for golf, and the main reason I chose it over Garmin or any other brand is because it includes an odometer. I love this feature so I can use if for walking and biking as well as golf. However, I cannot for the life of me figure out how to re-set the odometer each time I want to exercise. Any help???? Thanks!

  • Can I charge the NEO XS off a 240v /5v 500ma charger. instead of my computer

  • Hello, I’m looking to buy this watch however I can’t seem to find a list of which countries are included amoung the 30 – can anyone help me?

  • Question? I am considering buying the Bushnell neoxs golf watch. The one question I have is can this watch be charged using an ordinary wall plug/ If so, what and where can the device needed be purchased? Thank you George

  • George, the charger has a USB end, so you’d just need a wall to USB adapter like an iPhone or any other phone wall adapter.

  • I’ve used countless devices and work with computers daily. The “App” and the driver setup on PC is horrible. It’s worse than iTunes on a PC. I hope they fix this. I could not find anywhere to check for a firmware update. I have not used it on a course yet, and I certainly hope it performs better than the worthless PC interface!

  • Your review is very detail and informative. Thank you so much.

  • […] Bushnell Neo XS GPS Watch Review, TheHackersParadise.com […]

  • Does anyone know what you have to do to change the battery on this watch and also if the strap breaks can it be changed. I’m thinking of ditching my skycaddie annual subscription for the latest version of this watch. BTW, skycaddie is great, I just don’t like paying £29.99 every year!

  • I bought the neo xs about 6 months ago the watch worked great until it stop holding a charge sent it back to bushnell and they have the nerve to ask me for $10.00 and haven’t even told me what’s wrong with the watch. I feel I shouldn’t send them nothing until they tell me what’s wrong with it if I did something wrong they should let me know if the $`10.00 is for shipping to send me another one they should say that. If they choose not to replace it I will never purchase anything with their name on it again

  • In my information search I looked through tons of info about what I should be looking for in terms of discovering yardage on the course.

    What I discovered is that the best distance measuring devices are those that balance giving you the numbers you need without really getting in the way. For its part, the Bushnell Neo XS Golf GPS Rangefinder Watch does a great job of information delivery without standing in the way of your game. Worn around your wrist, this device is always there when you need information and yet you can easily forget about it when not looking for a yardage. If you are used to wearing a watch in other walks of life, wearing this product on the course will quickly become second nature.

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