I want to introduce a very unique tension rubber from a new brand based on South Korea. The name of rubber is ‘Karis’.
Maybe you aren’t familiar with ‘Nexy’. But, during these seven years Nexy has announced many unique table tennis blades in South Korean domestic market, and some models have been introduced worldwide through some table tennis forums. Most of Nexy blades are very well designed, and at the same time provides decent performance. However, differently from Nexy’s excellent blades, the rubber of Nexy had been no more than entry level products until 2015. Having top-class rubbers in its range had been a dream of Nexy for long time. And, finally it has been realized by the launching of ‘Karis’ in 2016.
Karis is categorized as ‘New Generation’ tension rubber. (‘New Generation’ tension rubber’ is currently the mainstream of table tennis rubbers of high class. The first ‘New Generation Tension Rubber’ is Butterfly Tenergy 05 which was announced in September 2008. And, most of German tension rubbers of top class those have been announced from late 2009 until now are ‘New Generation’ tension rubbers.) Like other ‘New Generation’ tension rubbers, Nexy Karis consists of top sheet which is made mostly of natural rubber and sponge which has visible pores. (Of course top sheet contains artificial rubber. But, its ratio is much lower than the ratio of natural rubber.)
Then you may think that Nexy Karis is similar to many rubbers those have already been in the market. But, the truth is that Karis isn’t similar to any existing ‘New Generation’ tension rubbers. Karis has its own characteristic that makes it distinguished from all the other ‘New Generation’ tension rubbers. I will explain it in this posting.
Nexy Karis is made in Japan. And, the appearance is somewhat similar to Stiga Airoc or Airoc Astro at a glance. Of course ‘made in Japan’ is not concerned with the uniqueness which was mentioned above and will be explained. In fact Stiga’s ‘New Generation’ tension rubbers – Airoc, Airoc Astro and Mantra – are similar to Butterfly Tenergy 05 and all German ‘New Generation’ tension rubbers with ‘Type A’ geometry. (Regarding the pimple geometry of ‘New Generation’ tension rubber, please refer to posting : Three typical pimple geometires of ‘New Generation’ tension rubbers.) If we examine pimple geometry, Stiga ‘New Generation’ tension rubbers are not different from Butterfly rubbers or ‘made in Germany’ rubbers. There is only the difference of performance tuning. And, Stiga Mantra even shows similarity with Butterfly Tenergy 05 or Tibhar Evolution MX-S/EL-S in the performance goal that the rubber aims at. So it isn’t reasonable that we distinguish the rubbers by the origin (= Germany or Japan). Instead we should examine the performance setting of each rubber product.
But, anyway somebody will compare Nexy Karis with Stiga rubbers because Nexy Karis is made in Japan. Especially because of the color of sponge.
The color of the sponge of Nexy Karis is light blue. It is same as that of Stiga Airoc and Airoc Astro.
Due to this similarity, you may expect that the performance of Nexy Karis will be similar to that of Stiga Airoc or Airoc Astro. However, everything of Nexy Karis except for sponge color is different from that of Stiga Airoc or Airoc Astro. For that reason, of course the feeling and the performance of Nexy Karis aren’t similar to those of Airoc or Airoc Astro. Nexy Karis is totally different rubber from Airoc or Airoc Astro.
Let’s examine the surface of the top sheet of Nexy Karis. The surface is opaque and non-glossy. Interestingly, the surface looks similar not to Airoc (or Airoc Astro) but to Mantra. (Of course, according to Nexy, the top sheet of Karis is also different from that of Stiga Mantra.)
Differently from the non-glossy surface of Nexy Karis, the surface of Stiga Airoc or Airoc Astro is glossy. For that reason the surface of two rubbers in above picture look different. But, still this isn’t the main difference between Karis and Airoc (or Airoc Astro).
Let’s watch the pimple structure of Nexy Karis.
We can find the big difference of Nexy Karis from other mainstream rubbers. That is the height of pimple. The pimple of Nexy Karis is very short. The thickness of upper sheet is even bigger than the height of the pimple of Nexy Karis.
It is more noticeable if we compare it with the pimple geometry of Stiga Airoc Astro (or Airoc).
The pimple geometry of Stiga Airoc Astro is categorized as Type A. (Again, regarding the pimple geometry of ‘New Generation’ tension rubber, please refer to posting : Three typical pimple geometires of ‘New Generation’ tension rubbers.) Except for height of pimple, the pimple geometry of Nexy Karis is also close to Type A geometry. However, the pimple is noticeably short. According to Nexy, the height of the pimple of Nexy Karis is 3/4 of that of regular Type A geometry. And, it looks even shorter in above picture.
According to Nexy, this ‘short’ pimple is the own idea of Nexy, and Nexy made exclusive pimple mould that is used only for the production of Karis.
Nexy calls this special pimple geometry as ‘EBCS’.
‘EBCS’ is printed on the packaging of Nexy Karis. Its meaning is ‘Enhanced Balance Column Structure’. (‘Column Structure’ means ‘pimple shape’ of course.)
This unique pimple geometry makes the uniqueness of Karis in performance. According to Nexy, by the reduction of the height of pimple, performance balance and response of rubber are greatly enhanced. Of course the pimple geometry will not be everything. After finishing the development of pimple structure, Nexy had spent about 1 more year for the optimization of performance. Then we can estimate that the formula of top sheet and the formula of sponge was also optimized during that one year.
Also according to Nexy, the idea of short pimple is from the experience of examining Chinese sticky rubbers. In fact most of Chinese sticky (= tacky) rubbers such as Hurricane 3 have short pimples. Karis isn’t made in China, and isn’t sticky. But, from Karis we will be able to expect the stability of topspin at close-to-table area as Chinese rubbers. Also we will be able to expect the speed of smash from Karis will not be low because it isn’t a sticky rubber.
One additional advantage of shortened pimple is that one step thicker sponge can be applied. That is similar concept as the newest German tension rubbers such as Aurus Prime and Donic BlueStorm. The difference from Karis and newest German tension rubbers is that newest German tension rubbers have thinner upper sheets instead of shortened pimples. So the concept of Nexy Karis is fundamentally different from the concept of newest German tension rubbers. Anyway, Nexy Karis is available in thicker sponge than Stiga rubbers.
Nexy Karis is available in 2.0mm sponge and 2.2 mm sponge, while Stiga rubbers are available in 1.7, 1.9 and 2.1mm sponge. When actually measured, the total thickness of the 2.2mm Karis is about 3.65mm. So still 2.2mm is far from maximum, and there is room of 0.1~0.2mm. We may expect Karis with 2.3mm or 2.4mm sponge in the future. (If 2.4mm sponge is applied the total thickness will be about 3.85mm. Because we should consider the thickness of glue layer, about 3.8~3.85mm is the maximum total thickness we can actually try. If we go further than this, glue layer may make our racket disqualified. For that reason the actual thickness of many rubbers on which it is written as MAX is about 3.8mm.)
By sponge density, there are three variations of Karis. Karis M, Karis M+ and Karis H. Interestingly it isn’t S/M/H but M/M+/H. There isn’t S (Soft) version, and instead there are two medium versions – M and M+.
The values of sponge densities haven’t been announced. According to Nexy, the feeling of Karis is different from any existing ‘New Generation’ tension rubber because the pimple geometry of Karis is unique, and that is the reason why values are not announce. If we know the values of sponge densities, we may have prejudice on the feeling, and it frequently happens that the prejudice affects the actual result of using table tennis rubber. Not announcing sponge densities can be considered as very reasonable strategy in case the rubber is so unique as Karis.
‘Karis M’ is the softest version currently available. But, it isn’t ‘soft’ version but ‘medium’ version. So it isn’t ‘Karis S’ but ‘Karis M’. According to Nexy, this version is the least unique in feeling. Differently speaking, it is basically for the players who want to try Karis but at the same time want to keep their feeling on rubber for a while.
‘Karis M+’ is intermediate version. ‘M+’ means that its sponge is harder than that of Karis M. However, it isn’t ‘hard’ version but still considered as ‘medium’ version. According to Nexy, the difference between the sponge density of Karis M+ and that of Karis M is not big. But, also according to Nexy, the small difference of sponge density cause noticeable difference in feeling.
‘Karis H’ is hard version of Karis. Among three versions Karis H provides the most unique characteristics. Basically Karis H is for hard hitters. Probably Karis H can be too hard for European players. But, there will be many players who love the feeling and performance characteristics of Karis H.
For all three versions, top sheet is identical. ITTF approval # is 94-005, and all three versions are just the same ‘Karis’ on ITTF list of approved coverings (rubbers). After we take Karis out of its packaging, there isn’t any way of distinguishing the version of Karis if we can’t distinguish by touching the rubber by our fingers. It will be better for customers if Nexy prints the character – M, M+ or H – on sponge. But, if we don’t open many pieces at the same time, there will not be problem in actual use.
I tried all three versions briefly. It wasn’t serious testing, and therefore I can’t write ‘review’ but can just write simple ‘impression’.
As is expected, the feeling of Karis is very unique. The feeling transferred to hand is very direct. Sound isn’t that high, maybe due to the shortened pimple, but quite good.
Performance is decent. Karis isn’t the fastest rubber, and doesn’t provide the most powerful topspin. However, Karis provide very impressive balance among all elements of performance. And, it is very easy to use Karis, regardless of sponge density version. Especially at close-to-table area, the ease of use is excellent.
Among three versions, I tried to use Karis H in the way of using Chinese sticky rubbers. I.e. thin but strong impact of topspin at very early stage of rebound. And, it was successful. Although Karis H isn’t Chinese sticky rubber, it can be used in very similar manner as the usage of Chinese sticky rubbers. Further, because Karis isn’t sticky rubber, there isn’t problem of the speed loss of smash. Of course Karis H can’t directly replace Chinese sticky rubber. But, if you want to try Chinese playing style but don’t want to accept the low rebound and peculiar response due to stickiness, Karis H is seriously considerable. Although it has very unique pimple geometry, Karis is basically one of ‘New Generation’ tension rubbers those are mainstream rubbers nowadays. So, it is much more ‘normal’ than Chinese rubbers.
Also for hard hitters, Karis H is recommendable. Sometimes it reminds me old ‘Sriver Kawatsuki’, although Karis H seems to be much softer than Sriver Kawatsuki.
Karis M+ and Karis M are also very easy to use at close-to-table area. Although three versions of Karis are not bad for the play from mid-distance area, I felt much more comfort at close-to-table area. I don’t have confidence because my testing was just brief one by short term use. You may say different after your own testing. (So this isn’t review but impression.) Between Karis M+ and Karis M, the one that is easier to be accustomed is Karis M, as is explained by Nexy. Actually Karis M is less unique in feeling and characteristics. It makes me feel comfortable of using Karis M on my backhand side. On the contrary, Karis M+ was better for forehand side because it is close to Karis H in its behavior. I felt that Karis M+ is softer version of Karis H.
One thing I noticed is that the result is easily affected by blade. If you get a chance of testing Karis, please keep that in mind. I personally felt that harder and faster blade makes better combination with Karis generally, regardless of version of Karis. But, it depends on personal preference. (I found two blades those make fantastic combinations with Karis M. But, I’m not sure whether those combinations will be also good for you.)
‘Karis’ is the first challenge of Nexy to the competition of top-class tension rubbers. Despite of insufficient experience, Nexy succeeded to put Karis clear individuality that makes Karis distinguished from many existing ‘New Generation’ tension rubbers in the market, at the same time with decent performance.
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