One among this year’s hottest gifts could be the hoverboard, also known as the less enticing but more accurate name of an “electric hands-free scooter.” If you’re brave enough to try and grab one of these elusive people-movers, then you most definitely have a few pre-shopping questions. We have answers.
Where Can I Purchase one?
It’s already this late that year and you want to buy one now? It’s possible, but it won’t be easy. Many major retailers can be bought out already or don’t need to stock them in any way (liability issues are so real)-so getting one prior to holidays is going to be an issue. Going directly to one in the manufacturer’s websites is your best bet (some links below), or setup an Amazon alert first of the better-known brands. Sure, a search for “hoverboard” on Amazon describes a lot of options, but a lot of they’re knock-offs that are going to break, or worse.
Just how much Is it Going to Cost?
A good way to tell if your board is a bit of good is cost. Under $300? You almost certainly want to back away quickly. A few of the best-reviewed boards are well over $1,000, though one particular without celebrity reputations attached are available for between $500-$900. TL;DR: There really isn’t a typical price yet, but you should budget to invest at least $500.
Which Ones Will be the Safest?
A better question to inquire about might be, “Which hoverboard won’t explode and kill me, resulting in a death so embarrassing it sounds like an Onion headline?” Fantastic and wise query. There were a few reports about cheap form of the devices on the market with low quality battery packs that overheat. Then, you know, explode. Unfortunately, these reports supply declined to name names-but most information shows that units coming from China are the culprits. But, um, that’s many of them. A good bet is always to opt for one of the popular brands: PhunkeeDunk, Hovertrax, IO Hawk, Ninebot, and Swagway are all (relatively) big names with this market.
Really, though, you may notice an ultra-cheap deal or some Groupon-type steep discount, please take a hard look at those specs. And in all likelihood just don’t get it. Safer to be safe than end up the butt of the saddest joke ever. If a deal seems too good to be true… it is.
Can I Ride This Thing Outside?
It all depends where you live. The U.K. says you can’t ride your hands-free scooter on sidewalks or even the road, so go ahead and wheel around indoors or directly in front of your driveway. They are also-maybe-not allowed in Nyc, depending on how fast yours can be. If it can go faster than 15 mph (instead of that many can), leave it at home. In California, a brand new law that passes at the beginning of the year will make it perfectly Okay to ride your board in bike lanes and pathways (helmets required!). Still, some individual malls, schools, and also other spaces are taking measures to ban these using their hallways and premises, so bear in mind that the rules may not be on your side.
OK, If I Can Ride This Outside, Which One’s Best for Outdoors?
If you’re taking this thing out on concrete or pavement, then almost all of the major brands will work fine. If you’re searching for something to take on rougher terrain, the Solowheel Extreme from Hovertrax is a great option. In general, the original Hovertrax board is a fantastic decision for all-around rideability-check out this video extracting some of the other big companies and comparing their strengths (and weaknesses). Something to consider: These are electric, so riding them around while it’s raining isn’t the best idea ever. A bit water on the road won’t cause a surge, but that’s as much as you need to risk.
Are These Little Kid-Friendly?
How dextrous is your child? If you are buying it for a kid, maybe search for a model that includes a handle. It’s basically a Segway for small people, but it’s certainly safer. If that’s simply not going to cut it, then pick a device with a lower max speed; 5 MPH may perhaps be enough. Devices with bigger tires also a little easier to maneuver. The Ninebot’s middle knee rest feature may also help with balance.
Wait, Exactly what are These Even Called?
LOL nobody knows! Technically, what you are trying to buy is not a hoverboard-those do actually exist, only in prototype form, so you won’t be acquiring one this holiday shopping season. Names that people have been calling them: glideboard, hands-free Segway, electric scooter, or just “rideable” (ugh). If you want to speak the language of the people, just keep with hoverboard (though maybe use air quotes around “hover” because that isn’t actually what’s happening).