Hovertech Mini Scooter Review
As you’ve probably realized, so many hands-free self-balancing boards, or “hoverboards”, look basically identical. On the one hand this is because there are only so many ways you can play with the design of one, but the main reason is that they are mostly clones of the Chic Robotics S1, basically the product that got things going in the first place.
Although the shells look the same, there can be sharp differences in the quality of that shell and the components and frame you’ll find on the inside. Many opportunistic Chinese manufacturers bargain on the confusion this will create, leading unwitting buyers to think they are getting a $1000 product for a bargain price.
So what about Hovertech? The price is right at about halfway to a grand, but it’s pretty much an S1 clone on the outside. Let’s see what we can divine.
Uh, oh. After quite a bit of time Googling I can’t seem to find Hovertech’s homepage. There is a company with that name in the States, but they do something completely different. That elusive home page may be there somewhere, but if I can’t find it after fifteen minutes of serious searching I doubt the average internet user will.
Tell Me What I Want to Hear
This is a problem, since the product description says all the right things. In all caps I’m told “SAFE U.S.CERTIFIED BATTERIES AND CHARGERS” which I’m inclined to believe, since Amazon has allowed only hoverboard products with the right certification back onto the storefront. So at least we know Hovertech could produce the right documents for the electrical components.
There’s also a “full” one-year warranty, promises of domestic warehousing and shipping, as well as ample spare parts. That’s what I want to hear, but the fact that I can’t track down where in the States they’re based or even find an email address or telephone number pours water all over that.
Check Out the Checklist
OK, so let’s take the specs on face value for now and see if the Hovertech is worth it in principle.
The claim is for six hours of battery life or 11 miles of range. Of course they don’t say under what conditions this was tested, so to be safe I usually halve these numbers, if there is no lower range, to get a more realistic idea. So about six miles on a charge with a heavier rider and more inclines? Not too bad, that would still cover most people’s commutes in urban and sub-urban areas. No mention of a weight limit, but it should be at least 220 lbs. Users of that weight have reported no issues, so I think it’s a safe bet.
We the People
People who have bought the product have given mixed feedback. Most are reasonably happy, but there are complaints of damaged units right out of the box, poor shell-quality, and at least one report of a battery fire. Just bear in mind that lithium battery technology is never completely proof against battery fires, not even the ones in high-end tablets and phones. This is why you should charge a device like this in an area where a sudden fire would not cause serious damage. Have the right fire extinguishing equipment close at hand as well. This is standard practice for people in the RC helicopter and plane community as well, since they also use high-capacity lithium polymer batteries.
My gut tells me I’d be better off buying a better-known brand in the same price class, like the SwagWay X1. They cost about the same and you’ll have no trouble at all tracking down Swagway if you have a complaint. Until Hovertech has a better public presence in the U.S., I’d personally steer clear. If it were really, really cheap I might take the chance, but not at this price point.