INTRO Ok, so the new toys have arrived and they have been sent off to my stringer Gefen Sports. For the sake of being fair, one of each will be restrung with a fresh set of BG80 strings @26lbs. And as usual, all my racquets have my favoured G5 grip and are the SP versions. They'll return in time for a session on Tuesday 22nd May where I'll put them into action. So before I get anyone's hopes up too high, this is just a preliminary commentary on what I have seen before me. As some of you will already know, I've been playing with the AT700 4U for many years and moved from the Mk1 to the Mk2. As the stocks of the Mk2 4U ran dry, and I only have two left I decided to try some new bats during the off-season summer league to see if I could find a new AT700. From my other post, I was misled to believe that the VTZF 4U was the new most head heavy racquet on the block that was comparable with the AT700 4U. http://www.badmintoncentral.com/for...-Force-4U-G5-vs-Armortec-700-4U-G5-comparison However, as my review showed, that was not the case as the VTZF 4U is much more head light than the AT700 4U. That wasn't a bad thing as I've been sporting a few injuries, and the VTZF 4U really is a delightful racquet to play with. I still can't help feeling the VTZF 4U could be another half inch or so longer in order to suit my game, and perhaps this is where the 3U version comes onto the scene? Out of curiosity, I needed to see how the VTZF 3U compared, and then out of the blue the AT700 Pre12 arrived, with thanks to an old friend in HK, and courtesy of Mister Keen Sports Goods in Aberdeen, HK. If I'd been on the ball, I could have received these two weeks ago. I'm sorry to disappoint, but I've decided against an in depth comparison with the original AT700 4U against the Mk2 and the Pre12 as: 1) I already know the Mk2 is the same weight as the Mk1, but 2) the weight distribution is more head oriented with the Mk2, and as such the head feels slightly more solid 3) The shafts are the same stiffness 4) Handle length is the same 5) You just need to have a stronger wrist and more accomplished technique to master the AT700 Mk2. 6) So few people here will remember how the AT700 Mk1 plays anyhow 7) You can't get the AT700 Mk1 any more in mainstream shops QUICK INSPECTION As expected the VTZF 3U looks identical to the 4U, but the extra 6grammes of weight has been added to the top half of the racquet, with 88g vs 82g respectively. The string patterns are of course the same too. The AT700 Mk2 and Pre12 also weigh slightly differently 82g and 83g respectively, but this could just be my scales are rounding up/down. I shall check again once the strings are all in, but there is one minor point to be aware of. The AT700mk2 utilises the 22 x 22 string pattern, whereas the newer Pre12 looks like it's 22 x 21, just like the VTZF pair. The pre12 grommets are also smaller than the original wide tops on the Mk2 and more akin to those on the ZF. As such, will this minor difference affect any outcome? I originally looked at images of the Pre12 and thought that the head was very different, but in reality, they are the same. Once they are strung up the head shapes can be compared more accurately. I won't speculate too much, and I don't know if the marketing execs are just spinning some excitement and getting the juices flowing for those "bat collectors" out there, but the shaft decals don't hint that there are some changes to the AT700 beneath the bonnet, as the Mk2 had Ultimum Ti technology already. On the Mk2 it reads: Ultra light weight / Head heavy balance / High modulus graphite Whereas, the Pre12 says: Ultra light weight / Head heavy balance / Ultimum Titanium + High modulus graphite My heart hopes the Pre12 is just a jazzed up version of the of the Mk2, as the head heavy balance was what made it appeal to my game when it was at its best. If I had to be uber-critical, the things I would like Yonex to improve on AT700 Mk2 would be: 1) To get the same rifle-like "pow" sound that they have achieved with the Voltric VTZF 2) To be slightly more manouverable and aerodynamic, so I can achieve a slightly faster head speed on my smash but still feel the weight of the head 3) To have an even harder, stiffer feeling head so I can get more shuttle feedback on the strings Perhaps, 22 x 21 pattern string design enables some of this to be realised and spares overall head weight by saving a magical 8 - 9 inches of string? You and I will know more by Tuesday 22nd.