Up until just a few short years ago, the term “hoverboard” called to mind images of exactly one thing: Marty McFly, hovering above the ground, running away from Griff Tannen and his cronies in the classic film “Back to the Future: Part 2” (or, if you’re a die-hard fan, you might think of Doc Brown using the hoverboard to save Clara at the end of “Back to the Future: Part 3”).
While we’re still presumably a long way off from the type of technology that Marty and Doc made look so fun during those classic movies, the next best thing HAS finally arrived. Also called Mini Segways, self balancing hoverboards have taken the country by storm and their popularity shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. If you’re on the fence about buying one or if you’re pretty sure you’re about to make a purchase but just want to know what to expect, there are a few important factors you’ll definitely want to know more about.
Hoverboards: A Whole New World of Fun and Excitement is Here!
If you’ve ever seen a traditional Segway, you pretty much already know what to expect from a hoverboard. A hoverboard is essentially made up of a small platform connected to two wheels that moves based on how the rider shifts his or her weight at any given moment. Do you want to go forward? Lean forward and the hoverboard moves in that direction. Do you want to go forward FASTER? Lean farther forward, etc.
Hoverboards commonly come with built-in lithium ion batteries, similar to the one that is probably in your laptop computer right now. Once the battery is depleted, you just plug it in and recharge it – it doesn’t get much easier than that! Lithium ion batteries can typically go through approximately 1000 to 1500 full charge cycles before needing to be replaced, which means that it’s far more likely that your family will lose interest in your hoverboard before you actually have to invest more money in a new battery.
When looking for a hoverboard, one of the qualities that you’ll soon find separates the wheat from the chaff has to do with the valued added, advanced features that some use to really stand out from the competition. Some hoverboards include Bluetooth connectivity that lets you stream music from your smartphone to a speaker on the device, similar to the way you might play music from your iPhone over the stereo in your car. Can you imagine anything more fun that riding your hoverboard down the street while “Ride of the Valkyries” is playing at full volume? Because we certainly can’t.
Hoverboard Safety Considerations
One of the most important factors you should consider before buying hoverboard Segways for your family has to do with safety – you certainly want everyone to have as much fun as possible, but you definitely don’t want them to get hurt at the same time. As with any new type of consumer product, these hands free hoverboards certainly require you to keep a few key things in mind in that regard.
If you’re planning on buying that special someone in your life a hoverboard, one of the first things you’ll want to know is that it’s become pretty difficult to actually travel with it, especially recently. Do you plan on taking a flight to Florida to visit Grandma and Grandpa and want to bring your hoverboard with you so that they can have a little fun, too? You’ll be disappointed to know that you’re out of luck – at least if you’re flying on Delta.
Effective December 11, Delta actually banned bringing hoverboards with lithium-ion batteries (read: almost all of them) as checked or carry-on items due to safety concerns. The chief issue is that many hoverboards usually have batteries that are well above the 160 watt hour limit permitted when bringing an item aboard an aircraft, which means that your exceptionally fun new toy is going to have to stay back at home.
According to Consumer Reports, online e-commerce giant Amazon actually removed most models from its website out of concerns that the devices may be starting fires across the country. Does this mean that if you buy a hoverboard for your kids your house will burn to the ground? Of course not. This just means that if you don’t follow the original manufacturer’s directions with regards to how you maintain and store the unit, the consequences aren’t just negative – they can be disastrous. If you do everything that you’re supposed to with regards to storing your hoverboard in a cool, dry place you’ll be fine, but as Consumer Reports shows most people can’t be bothered to do exactly that.
One thing is for sure: hoverboards represent a bold new era of family-friendly fun that just have to be seen to be believed. While it’s true that they do represent certain safety concerns, let’s all be honest with one another – what doesn’t? Your child is just as likely to get injured on a bike as they are on a hoverboard and that hasn’t stopped us from buying bikes for our kids. So long as you know exactly what to expect and, more importantly, are willing to take care of your hoverboard in the way that the manufacturer recommends, you’ll not only have a great deal of adventure and excitement – you’ll instantly be the coolest family on the block at the same time.