My first impressions said a lot in the video review of the FangShi ShuangRen. It’s my hope that these post impressions say just as much. It’s a really good cube, stands as a testament along how far cubes have come in the last five or even three years. I cannot open this cube up and as a result it does not pop.
A Bit of History First
There have been cubes that do not pop in past, the name “DIY New Type A” comes to mind and I’d be very surprised if anyone reading this remembers it. The “new type A” couldn’t pop but was pretty atrocious. The edges had these planks on them, a bit like the Alpha V but longer. These planks were separate from the edge and would come off easily, and you had to assemble it yourself when you first get it. If you assembled it correctly and the planks stay in, the cube could not be popped, but one of those planks fall out and you could have a mess on your hands to take the edge out and repair it. Believe me, it was awful and I haven’t seen one since.
The Rest of the Review Now…
I can confidently say that the FangShi is nothing like that. The Fangshi works like a charm. The turning reminds me a lot of a ShengShou 4×4 or 5×5, very smooth, no catches. Corner cutting margins are not the same as you would get on a Dayan cube, but they’re still very acceptable. The one annoyance I have is the size actually, it’s just that much smaller that my fingers collide too much. I can still get good times despite this, but I have to make a small adjustment every time I start a session with it. There is also a 57mm version of the cube I would be interested in trying.
A comment on the video clearly explained how to take the cube apart. The insides are very complicated and it’s soon apparent that a lot more pieces make up this cube than you think. Pictured below are the edges, the corners, and a all three parts of a corner. I believe this is the first time I’ve used this phrase for a cube, but it is beautifully designed, truly built inside out.
Overall the cube makes you wonder how much better it can get than this, but we’ve all thought that at one point or another I’m sure. This would be a good cube for any level of cuber to get, and I imagine it would last them a long time. You can buy it at Lightake for $15 and shipping is free.
The PanShi is a combination of daring and lazy. On one hand they were trying to make some thing new and better. On the other hand you can see exactly how the designers just copied the ZhanChi CAD file and made a few small modifications. These modifications include wider “wings” on the edges, and a higher “lip.” Both do a really good job of keeping the pieces from popping, but at the expense of wide corner cutting margins and hence speed.
This doesn’t mean it’s a bad cube. I can certainly get sub-15 times on it, however not very consistently. (For context I consider myself to average a mid-14 with a ZhanChi). I’ve been trying to get better at blind solving and I think this is a really good cube for my practice. It’s hard to make accidental moves on it and the sides click in such a way that is very distinct. It gives the same kind of good feeling the clicks from a mechanical keyboard give, that is I get tactile and audible feedback from a turn.
I can see this being a really good cube for people still over 25-30 seconds. It encourages clean turning, and it doesn’t pop as frequently as a Rubik’s brand might. However in the end this is a prime example of the innovator’s dilemma, it just doesn’t stand up to its predecessors at all.
I said it twice in the video review: it’s just a ZhanChi. But when you hold it and play with it, it feels like so much more. I imagine it has something to do with our perception of small things being cute? The stickers are pretty decent actually. Historically DIY’sspecialty cubes from China have had really bad greens, yellows, and oranges.
It’s not a main cube, you’d be crazy to use this as a main cube. The ergonomics of it just don’t work either, my thumbs end up feeling tweaked after a short session with the cube. One thing I didn’t mention in the video review is how you physically have to push less, to be precise: the arc length your finger travels to turn a side is shorter.
If you’re looking for a good small cube, this is most likely your end all solution. The 42mm ZhanChi can be bought at Lightake.com for $8 and the ship anywhere in the world.