Boy this was a hard one to review! But I'm finally think I've got enough experience with the Li-Ning N55-III to give it a proper one.
I'd like to begin with the rollercoaster account of my time with the racket. Right off the bat it felt great - lighter than the purple one, faster, but still offering the same power and steepness of attack.
The defense was memorable as well, and it all seemed like an easy choice to review.
But then one fine Saturday, on my last run before the review, I found something strange about the racket. I suddenly faced loss in control and considerable loss in shot quality. Clears began to become shorter and smashes were hitting the net.
That prompted me to give the N55-III a little more time to run in.
And about three weeks later, here I am.
Note. This is my view of the racket, written after my personal experience with the racket. The pure nature of a review is to inject a perspective into a situation.
And here is mine.
Li-Ning Air-Stream N55-III
Est. weight: 87g (3U)
Grip Size: G5
Balance: Head Heavy
Strings: Yonex Nanogy 98 @ 25lbs
For something so head heavy, the N55-III performs remarkably well in defense. Might have been something to do with the air-stream slots cut into the head frame, but I doubt it can do that much of a difference.
So, due to unknown reasons, the head heavy and heavy racket manages to turn away most attacks that came my way on the courts. I found that the weight accords me that little bonus in power when I block shots.
Smashes were turned in to net drops for clear winners with the Li-Ning Air-Stream N55-III, and it felt good. Defending with this racket feels natural and quick - the ease of positioning the shots remained the truest of the arsenal I possess when yielding this racket.
I've only ever had the chance to do some drive defenses, and those turned out pretty well too.
On to the sweet stuff. Li-Ning rackets are known for their abusive use to head heavy orientation to obtain the powerful attack, and this isn't an exception.
The head heavy N55-III gives you a very satisfying boom when you hit the shuttle right, probably also again likely due to the air-stream system incorporated into the head frame.
The shuttle speed ain't too shabby either. Many times my shot came back half court, readying itself for another whacking. The combination of low angle and quick acceleration really gives the Li-Ning Air-Stream N55-III an edge in the offensive game.
Whether it's a hard smash to down the lines or a quick snap of the wrist pull off that surprise attack, the racket is a joy to use.
Remember the front when I said the racket had two personalities? Some times it's hot - throwing the opponent across the courts with well-placed angles. Some times it's not - seriously, I cannot explain the frustrations I get with this seemingly wonderful piece of equipment.
So I found out the truth today. This racket drains your arm strength rather quickly. After a few games, I started to lose sight of the sidelines and especially the back court. A short swing seemed to send the shuttle the wrong way.
About four games in (I played six games of singles tonight) I found that my backhands are losing quality and I was getting smashed at as a result.
Shots are thrown off, drops hitting the net, smashes losing power, net shots just not cutting it close enough.
All because this racket makes fatigue build-up a very real thing.
This racket is gentleman dashing - silver and gold streaks flanked by a black and silver shaft. It gives off a gun metal feel that is oh-so-charming. Must buy.
Li-Ning Air-Stream N55-III
"Awesome while strength lasts."