Wheeled ‘hoverboards’ have gotten a bad rap in the last few months, partly because a lot of them exploded and partly because they should not be called hoverboards. While this new hoverboard still commits one of those sins (and will still catch the unwanted gaze of the NYPD), at least we can hope for fewer flames from this new one. If nothing else, it looks a whole lot cooler.
Simply called Hoverboard, the (sigh) one-wheeled contraption is nothing like the two-wheeled handle-less exploding Segways of 2015. At the very least, it rides like a hoverboard should ride — more like a skateboard, as it was in Back to the Future. The unicycle of skateboards has one huge wheel in the center of the board, which sticks up out of the top. Your feet straddle that wheel, and you control movement by leaning in the direction you want to go while the board balances itself, even when it goes over bumps.
If this looks familiar, it’s because the idea of a one-wheeled board has already been done — the more honestly named Onewheel is available now and can already be seen on some streets. The Hoverboard sets itself apart with style and range. Aside from having a more premium, sleeker look, the Hoverboard can be outfitted with LED lights and Bluetooth speakers, which, to their credit, have been implemented without being tacky. While the top speed of 16 mph is about the same as Onewheel’s 15 mph, the range is twice as long at 12 miles. The Hoverboard also charges faster, at 16 minutes to 20 minutes for the Onewheel. Most interestingly, the Hoverboard has a modular design, leaving open the possibility of upgrading the board in the future.
So, is the one-wheeled skateboard going to be the hot ride of 2016? Maybe, but don’t expect to see this Hoverboard on nearly as many sidewalks — this thing is expensive. Getting the full board with lights and speakers costs $4,000. The Semi leaves off those extras and only has one sonar unit for balancing and costs $3,500, while the $3,000 Lite version has a lower top speed and range, slower charging time, and no sonar, lights, or speakers. All three versions can be preordered now and are scheduled to ship in July. If you’re on the fence, you can sign up on the site to see if Hoverboard is having any demo days near you anytime soon.