IO Hawk Review
The IO Hawk is basically the Hoover of hoverboards. This was the the cool new celebrity toy that hit Instagram, Twitter, and the rest of the social media universe. This product is the whole reason the public is even aware of what started out as a neat little gadget shown at electronics conventions. This is about as close as you’ll get to the true genesis device: the Chic Robotics Smart S1.
Before It Was Cool
It’s unbelievable how quickly the IO Hawk went from being a unique and highly exclusive celebrity toy to having an avalanche of copies flooding the market. Soon we had horror stories about knock-off scooters catching fire thanks to cheap batteries. In a few cases people have suffered significant property damage and even lost their homes.
During all this, the demand for the insanely expensive $1700 IO Hawk did not abate. Even now there’s a waiting list at times for the device. Clearly people wanted something like the IO Hawk, but were unwilling or unable to stump up that much cash for the privilege.
The big safety scares are now largely over and retailers like Amazon won’t sell a self-balancing electric scooter “hoverboard” without proper safety certification documents being presented.
Unfortunately, all of these cheap knockoffs (and damn decent clones) have really hurt the image of the IO Hawk in my opinion. It already looks cheap and dated. Most people would be unable to tell the difference between this original (ish) hoverboard and any of the $200 deathtraps on the market.
Other competitors have already upped the cosmetic ante, such as Skque’s eight-inch hoverboard that looks like a Lamborghini, whereas the IO Hawk resembled 90s kitchen equipment in comparison.
The IO Hawk has been a victim of its own success and of its insane pricing strategy. They’ve built a great brand image but, since their product is not exclusive or unique, that may not be enough.
Since this is the template for every other hoverboard out there, the spec sheet makes for underwhelming reading. After all, these specs usually represent the starting point for a hoverboard clone with modifications happening from there. This means that the IO Hawk is either the same or worse than many cheaper products on the market. It’s top speed is about six miles per hour, the range is eight to twelve miles, 15-degree hills are its limit and riders up to 265 lbs are accommodated. If you’ve been looking at any of the cheaper options these figures should sound very familiar, since they don’t vary all that much from one clone to the next.
The Price is Not Right
In the beginning, getting your hands on a IO Hawk would cost you an eye-watering $1700. That really limited it to celebrities and other well-heeled people that wanted to turn heads as they rolled past. Since then, in the face of competition, the IO Hawk now goes for about $1200. So it’s still one of the most expensive hoverboards around.
But what are you paying for? If you bought a Swagway X1 for $500 would you really notice a difference? I doubt it, what you’re paying for here is a brand name. The scooters that celebs ride are branded IO Hawk (or Phunkee Duck, the other big player) and the rest aren’t. Under the hood, unless you buy something truly cheap and nasty, there’s nothing to justify the pile of cash one of these cost.
The IO Hawk brand is purely a status symbol, over and above what the technology can do. So if you do get one you might as well go for the most blinged-out gold version you can get. In for a penny in for a pound, as they say.
Look, if you don’t care about the price tag, then by all means go for the IO Hawk. If the brand-name is worth that much to you then I would never tell you otherwise. If however, what you mostly care about is the quality and ability of the product and technology, you’re better off going with something like the Swagway X1.
There are quite a few equally capable yet cheaper hoverboards that have local parts and warranty support. Heck, for the price of one IO Hawk you can buy two Swagway X1s so that there’s a backup while the other is out of commission. You do the math on that and tell me which makes more sense.