05 Smart Parts Ion
14" Dye UL
Diamond Red Empire B
4AA or 6AA option
Price (you pay for what you get though)
Weight (an issue for some)
After usin the Ricochet Apache on my Ion for awhile I grew tired of the inconsistent loading of a semi-forcefed hopper. After a long time of research, I narrowed my search down to either a V35'd Halo B or the Empire B. In order to make my choice I decided to try out both at my last tourney and I found that the Halo, although cheaper, seemed to bust a lot of balls in the hopper (2 in as many games). The Empire I tried was not only close to the same speed of the 30 dollar upgraded board on the Halo, but also lighter, had rip drive, and never bsted a ball and even if it would have it wouldn't have been a big deal because, unlike the Halo, I wouldn't have to toss my hopper aside in the middle of a game because there aren't any eyes to screw up. The sound activation of the Empire is definitely the thing that seperates it apart from the Halo besides for the cooler colors. The only thing I would do to the Empire out of the box is instead of tightening the battery door all the way up, place an oring between the screw and the plastic to keep it tight an prevent cracked shells.
If you have the money this is the hopper for you. It lacks absolutely nothing and can be played with out of the box without any trouble. It is extremely fast and reliable and the color choice is also a great bonus...