Review of Self-Balancing Electric Scooters 2015-2016: Everything You Need to Know

Which self-balancing electronic scooter (cheap Segway hands free Hoverboard) should you buy? Here are 9 frequently asked questions- and They’re all from the same manufacturer, so select yours based on the price, shipping time, and seller trust.

hoverboard 2015
Charlie is 11 and is handling the self-balancing scooter well, but I’d be careful about kids under 14. As of this writing, Charlie’s hover board has not caught the house on fire.

January 2016 update: This blog post reviewing hover boards apparently filled a void: traffic to this “everything you need to know about hover boards” article has been insane! But a lot has changed in the past 45 days…

The bad news: in min December Amazon discontinued most models of the hover boards due to manufacturing problems causing batteries to overheat and even catch on fire. So buyer beware. This killed our US access to a lot of the low-cost models, and hover boards are not sold yet by traditional US distributors like Walmart, Kmart, Target, ToysRUs,

The good news: some manufacturers have convinced Amazon they are selling safe models. Here is one called “3rd Generation Smart Balance Intelligent Personal Mobility Device.” Here is another but only in white. Also some good long-term news Razor scooters bought the US patent so that company may eventually have a quasi monopoly on these, and that means higher prices. I can’t recommend a Razor yet because of the poor reviews.

 

Okay nowwww back to the original post with those edits:

The hot seller for Christmas 2015 was the new self-balancing 2-wheel electric scooters (also called incorrectly a hands-free Segway, razor skooters or hoverboard).

They sold like Heelys in the early 2000s. It takes maybe 5 minutes to learn if you’re mildly coordinated (so it took me 10). My four kids picked it up WAY more quickly than my coworkers.

Here’s what’s fascinating. These Segway-like handle-bar free scooters are getting tons of news coverage because celebrities and YouTubers are cruising around on them. But journalists are missing a vital piece of the story… they’re all made by the same dang Chinese manufacturer yet they have various brand/labels and range in price from about $300 to $1000. 

I’m writing this post because it’s really hard to find accurate, comprehensive review information or where to buy the best one for the best price. So in this post you’ll find:

Review of self balancing electric scooter and where to buy least expensive best one
Which self balancing electric scooter should you buy? Regardless of the brand name, they are all the same. So buy via trusted seller (like Amazon), and choose based on the price and shipping time (as well as Amazon ratings)

Now, dear reader, here are the 9 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) I would have liked answered before I purchased one:
Which to buy.

  1. Which self balancing electric scooter brand should I buy?

Good news. It doesn’t matter! Here is one I found on Amazon but they’re really hard to find right now. They’re almost all still from the exact same manufacturer in China (wholesale prices vary by the lot, but I’ve seen them for around $200). Look at the images and you’ll see they’re all the same except for the names splattered on them like eRover, PhunkeeDuck, IO Hawk, Oxboard, Cyboard, Scoot, Future Foot, Monorover, Airboard, Freego, Esway, Airwheel, iEZWay, Overoad. I don’t think Razor makes one and they’re not Segway brands even though people think they are. So buy on price, shipping speed and from a seller you trust. A lot of them are on backorder and can take a month to arrive. I see some are buying from Ali baba or express or whatever, but I’m nervous about that.
Where to Get Deal.

2. Where can I buy the scooter for the lowest price?

Per above, Amazon has a lot and here are the most popular self-balancing scooters they sell. Unfortunately, toy or major retailers (Walmart, Target, ToysRus, Kmart) don’t seem to have them yet. And even when they do they’re likely to mark it up significantly. For instance, if they purchased from wholesale at $200, they’d likely retail it for $400. You’d be getting the same thing (but you would be able to return it to the store, which would be convenient). Again- you can try Ali Express but I don’t know them. Here is the only one I could find on Amazon as of April 2015.

3. Tips if you decide to buy via on Amazon:

  1. Don’t be deceived by the price and Prime shipping. Sometimes the seller will provide a nice starting price and a range, where only one color will be low priced and Prime.
  2. I would hesitate buying one that doesn’t have a lot of ratings yet. If you’re really cautious, then you find one that has good shipping and price, and sort comments by four-star ratings (If someone’s faking positive reviews they usually rate 5, and 4-stars tend to be more objective).
  3. But here’s what’s important- Ignore any product-specific comments unless they’re many product problems since they’re all the same products. Instead look for notes about shipping or service or refunds.
  4. Consider the extra protection warrantee from a separate seller (I got the SquareTrade 2-year protection plan but I’ve never used them…. I just liked the idea of not having a hassle on replacements (and hopefully they don’t first force me to deal with the manufacturer).

4. Will it break? Will it have money back warrantee ?

Most online reviews are positive, but I’ve seen a number of reports that suggest the Chinese quality-control leaves something to be desired. Some comments indicate they do break, batteries die, and sometimes the battery burns. For less than $25 I bought a Square Trade protection plan that covers up to $349.99, and I hope that’s my backup if it fails. You buy this protection plan separately not from the manufacturer and to active it, you send the receipt to them via email. I expect to use it so I’ll update this post if I have problems. I do not recommend trusting the seller to take a return or honor any manufacturer warrantee.

5. How do I learn to use it? Is it safe?

Here’s a nice tutorial video on how to learn it. Here are the basics:

  1. You  step on it one foot at a time, but quickly (using a wall for support).
  2. Then you lean forward as if you’re going to fall over and you need to trust it.
  3. If you start to compensate your balance as you instinctively will you’ll get unstable… because it’s doing the same thing.
  4. Don’t tilt your feet forward like you’re pressing a pedal. Lean forward like you want to drop to a pushup. The more you do this, the faster you go.
  5. Turning is totally intuitive,  and you can spin around almost effortlessly.

Here’s me trying it out at work yesterday

In about 10 minutes I was cruising confidently in the hallway of my office...
In about 10 minutes I was cruising confidently in the hallway of my office…

But BE WARNED. It’s deceptively dangerous, so take precaution and use helmets. One of sons took a major spill while I was typing this, and he’s down on the ground with ice on his back.

Update January 2015: The discounted models referenced in this report apparently are not safe, so I’ve stripped out the links. I still own my two and we only charge it while monitoring them. But there have been reports of fires, and this has crushed the entire Chinese market for cheap ones that may violate patents. I’m quite confident the news has been overplayed by business interests, but it’s still a major “buyers beware.”

6. How long does it take to charge and how long will it last?

The online reports say it charges in an hour or two, and can go about 10-15 miles on a single charge.

7. How fast does it go?

It will go 4-6 miles per hour and it beeps when it’s maxed. That’s about the speed of a normal jog… it moves quick so ride carefully especially when stopping abruptly, turning or hitting bumps.

8. How heavy and big is the scooter?

It’s about 25 pounds, so it’s heavier than it looks. The length is 23 inches and the width about 8 inches. The stability means that it can carry up to 220 pounds.

It's about 25 pounds. And the length is 23 inches with a width of 8 inches
It’s about 25 pounds. And the length is 23 inches with a width of 8 inches

9. On what surfaces can I ride it?

It works great indoors or on carpet, but it can handle well paved driveways, streets or sidewalks. Watch out for bumps or curbs!

Here’s a nice review video that summarizes a lot of this.

Which electric scooter should you buy for the best deal?
Which self balancing electric scooter should you buy? The cheap one!

Specifications on mine: It’s about 25 pounds and can allegedly run up to 10-15 miles per hour. The wheels are rubber so they won’t go flat. The  charger voltage: 100-240v. Battery: 36V 4 4Ah Lithium Battery Dimension: 584 186 178 mm (23 inches by 8 inches).

 

Your Viral Video Shouldn’t Be a Commercial (Celebrity Apprentice Lesson)

Perhaps you watched Celebrity Apprentice last night, where the b-listers teamed up to create a “viral” video for O-Cedar’s ProMist Spray Mop.

Note that I put “viral” in quotes since it’s not a viral video unless it goes viral. For that matter, let’s call it what it is: try-ral. It’s trying. It may go viral, but it’s not.

This isn’t the first time Celebrity Apprentice has tasked the (has-been but charming) celebrities to create a “viral” video. But here’s my favorite quote from NJ.com on the coverage and the decision made in the boardroom after the competition:

The execs didn’t get the women’s “number” concept initially but liked the entertainment aspect of the video. They liked the men’s slogan… and thought the concept was clear and highlighted the mop’s selling points, although the video was a bit too much like a traditional commercial. The men win.

Did you notice anything there? The video was a bit too much like a traditional commercial, but… by the way… it won.

At the risk of stating the obvious, please don’t learn from this. They didn’t win despite the video being too commercial. They won because the women’s video was entertaining but not purposeful. That’s not good either. But if your “viral” video is a commercial, prepare to spend your media dollars to get it seen as prerolls. We almost never share commercials… we sometimes send entertaining videos that happen to pitch a brand.

Do not expect people to share your commercial. Please.

Most Epic Corporate Holiday Video Greeting

Last year we celebrated the worst corporate Christmas and Holiday greetings. This year we’re celebrating the good ones. Got one? We’ve found one by Klick Health, and it deserves recognition. The sheer number of edits and costumes shows effort that is uncommon with end-of-year throw aways.

This one is interactive so you can win some loot for naming the characters.

What Camera Should I Buy: Holidays 2011

What digital camera should I buy? It’s a question I get a lot, so I’ve identified some favorites with the help of Consumer Reports.

If you’re gonna buy one, follow the links, eh? They’re affiliate links so I get a small percent and you pay the same price you’d pay going on Amazon directly. 🙂

Best digital camera december 2011
  1. Looking for a low-priced but highly rated slim camera? The Panasonic DMC-FH25K tops the ratings on Amazon. It’s $146 bucks.
  2. Looking for a mid-priced advanced feature “point and shoot”? The Canon Powershot G12 tops the list. It’s a steal at $379 with top ratings by Consumer Reports and high consumer ratings on Amazon.
  3. Looking for a smaller, lighter camera that still allows you to change the lense? That’s either the Sony SLT-A55VL ($799) or the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 (also $799) that I own. It takes great pictures and video, and I like the depth of field with the lense.
  4. Finally, looking for an SLR with more advanced features? Check the Canon EOS 60D ($1119) or Nikon D7000 ($1499). These are obviously for advanced users as they’re not cheap. If you feel like buying me a Christmas present either one would be fabulous.

Then there’s this option if you’re in debt like me, and are feeling nostalgic.

Why My Meetings Are So Boring

Corporate meetings can be such a drag. I recently stumbled via the World Wide Web into the Corporate Entertainer Jeff Civillico, who bungees on a tricycle. Candidly I’m less surprised at this feat as disappointed that all meeting entertainers don’t do this. The next time you’re at a corporate event and they bring in some watered-down softball comedian, scream “bungee on a unicycle, limp d*ck!”

Oh wow… while writing this post I discovered the dude’s performing just miles from me November 3. Anyone want to sneak in and yell aforementioned statement? I want some funny and visceral entertainment. I want that.

 

10 Creative Budget DIY Production Effects, Tips & Tricks

More and more YouTubers are tossing their videocameras for HD-SLR cameras, and producing film-like quality. Here are free low-budget tips to create a film effects and other special-effects… without expensive equipment or professional experience.

How can we provide film-like effects and special effects using modestly priced gear? For instance:

    • What are the best ways to shoot video using a digital SLR camera, and make it look like cinema film?
    • What $2 item in your kitchen provides a perfect way to keep your camera still in a car?
    • How can a pet’s home let you shoot underwater, using your existing camera without an expensive add-on?
    • When can a painter’s tool get you a crane/jib shot?
    • How can you make a person vanish or defy gravity by crawling on a wall?
    • What’s the easiest way to clone yourself in a video?
Keep your hard-earned money, and try some of these free or low-budget hacks, tricks and effects

Today we’ll look at some of these do-it-yourself (DIY) poor-man techniques, and see example videos are provided (most links advance to the effect’s precise moment in the video to save you time). Tomorrow I’ll provide a collection of 10 free websites and tutorials about creating a film/cinematic look using a fairly inexpensive digital camera.

But first… a quick tip on selecting a killer $500-$1000 videocamera that will produce footage you could barely get from a $5,000 to $10,000 just years ago. The solution for film-like quality in your videos is a cost-effective ($500-$1000) HDSLR video camera. Click here to see three pro ~$1000 compared (Sony vs Panasonic vs Canon).

Your HD-SLR can give you near-film quality with some of these tips.

Many YouTubers and quasi-professional video creators are using traditional SLR cameras as their primary videocamera. Sxephil, for instance, was using a Canon 5D when he showed how he establishes his home studio. Now that the video quality rivals many high-end video cameras, we’re able to enjoy the beautiful effect that decent SLR lenses provide — like that depth-of-field look you see in WheezyWaiter and MysteryGuitarMan videos. Let’s call these HDSLRs.

With help from a variety of sources (Videomaker, Amazon, B&H, PCMag, Cnet and the cameras used by top YouTubers) I’ve compiled some of the winners on this Amazon videocamera store, and it’s an affiliate program that makes me almost nothing except when stalkerofnalts told me he was buying expensive new gear, and let me generate Amazon affiliate links for his products). At least I can provide people with this link when they ask for my advice.

Now back to the poor-man effects. There’s a lot more to professional-looking video than a decent camera, and some of the most important factors are lighting, camera movements, audio and a really good lense. That being said, the latest issue of Videomaker (Sept. 2011) has an article by Kyle Cassidy titled “Home Grown Video Gear.” The same author wrote a nice piece last year titled “Making Your Video Look More Like Film.” The top-three tips are thanks to Kyle.

Now the Top-10 Creative Budget DIY (do it yourself) Production Tips and Tricks to Create Film-Like Special Effects

A bag of rice makes a nice car tripod

1. Very Steady Car Tripod Using Bag of Rice: I do a lot of video vlogs, and I find a bunched-up shirt works as well as any fancy device. It keeps the camera from sliding and falling over, and it’s also easy to adjust (just scrunch more shirt under the front to tilt the camera up). Kyle’s technique is even better. A bag of rice! Isn’t that brilliant? It’s easy to adjust, can work well on the window to keep your camera steady on a zoom, and it might even buffer some of the shake from the car.

Brilliant. A fish tank as underwater camera case.

2. Underwater Housing With Partially-Immersed Fish Tank: Turn your existing camera into an underwater one without the fancy, cost-prohibitive custom-housings. Simply use a small fish tank that’s partially immersed in the water. Now you’ve got the ability to adjust the camera (focus, zoom, turn on and off) and it stays dry. Brilliant! Kyle suggests covering it with a towel to avoid flashes, and I’d recommend putting it on top of something like that rice bag below it. Then if a careless move causes the tank to go under, you’ve got the camera away before the tank fills.

3. Jib or Crane Shot Using Telescoping Painter’s Pole. I’ve used a pool net to produce a camera-in-sky and sweeping horizontal “crane” effect (see a 5-year-old flying Charlie in Super Baby). Brushing the camera above and through branches provides a breezy feel. I also mounted the video camera on a flag pole for Google Maps Butt crack (approaching 1 million views). I even attached a Flipcam to a bunch of helium balloons (see video, and behind-the-scenes). This would have been a lot easier once I purchased my super-light car-key hidden camera, but the quality is rather poor. But Kyle suggests a telescoping painter’s pole, which range from $5 to $90 for a telescoping one (see Home Depot). I just picked up this inexpensive telescoping pole from Amazon for $20 and change (free shipping since I’m on Prime). While on a motorcycle, we got some nice footage using a tripod as a crane.

The web is packed with homemade dolly devices. Smooth is key.

4. Hello, Do-It-Yourself Dolly: A gently moving horizontal-slide of a camera (slider, dolly) can create a powerful effect (see example), especially when there are objects near and far to show perspective. While drooling over the $800 Cinevate Atlas 10 FLT, I went about searching for homemade Dolly tracks. I once bought a steadicam that worked pretty well, and was constructed with weights and plumbing equipment. Courtesy of LifeHacker, I found a guy with a how-to video on Veoh where J.G. Pasterjack created a dolly with skateboard wheels, and it can run on a flat surface or along a 2-by-4 board. Knowing I’d burn too much time and probably screw it up, I asked to be on his waiting list. He’s since created MoveYourCameraCheap.com, and is having trouble keeping up with demand on eBay.

5. Disappear or Defy Gravity With Wall-Decorated Floor: Your floor makes a good wall, can give the effect that people, objects or pets are climbing on the wall. See “lovey” the kitten crawling up a door, which was laid on the ground. This 2006 “Gravity Wall” video with my kids is a bit more obvious. To disappear, a) mount a camera perfectly still on a tripod or surface, b) simply shoot the background/setting alone and be sure lighting doesn’t change noticeably, c) videotape yourself (or person/object you wish to vanish), then d) use a “dissolve” effect when editing between the two clips (which diminishes subtle changes in the video). For instance, I provided a shock ending that made it look like a garbage truck ran over me inside a garbage can — seen in this fairly popolar “Garbage Can Prank” video.  I used it in one of my first kid videos (Katie turned invisible in this video shot maybe 5 years ago and uploaded in April) and more recently in this Dr. Who sponsored video, with some added glow via Iggy35.

A poster or inexpensive table cloth works as a green screen

6. Poor-Man’s Green Screen: Green screen allows you to replace a plain green background with a video or photo of your choosing. There are two ways to create a cheap green screen. First, you can use green posters or a dollar-store plastic table cloth. Second, you can use a painted wall that’s close to green. Most video-editing software with “green screen” functionality can “knock out” a background even if it’s not pure green. You just want to: a) ensure that you’re not wearing any colors that are close, b) light the wall separately to avoid shadows, and c) avoid wrinkles or seams that will invariably catch shadows. I have a cloth green screen, but that’s because I use green-screen to make it appear that I fall down steps. Cloth is critical to that effect.

7. Clone Yourself With Matte Effect: The Matte effect, where you overlay a portion of one video over another, is somewhat painstaking. But it can give you the ability to hire the cheapest support cast you’ll find: yourself. Here I cloned myself by shooting two scenes of myself and overlaying the clean Nalts over a video of my clone surfacing from mud. It’s something that requires a higher-end editing tool like Final Cut Express… but worth it.

8. Get Nutty and Grosse: If you’re not inclined to use special-effect software, here are some how-to homemade special effects that require little knowledge or effort (MightyCouch). The knife-tossing how-to is especially good, and you can even simulate the knife landing precariously by tying it into a string and pulling it away… then playing that clip backwards. Here’s a how-to video that shows more gory special effect tricks, including a bloody explosion using a condom full of fake blood.

9. Sundry Techniques for Leveling Camera, Hiding Wires & Creating Soft Effect: Kipkay is a prolific video creator that shares many of his production tricks and hacks, and this rapid fire “volume one” video is loaded with clever Magiver-like techniques. KipKay’s second Howcast video provides some less sexy but handy tips — such as using bread clips to mark cables.

10. Set your HDSLR to Resemble Film: Lastly and most importantly, there are a load of ways to get your HDSLR to give you a film-like quality… there’s even a book devoted to the subject (DSLR Cinema), which is on my wishlist. I’ve embedded a fantastic instructional video by Drumat5280 who has other videos like “DSLR settings.” He jokes that he’s an expert because he and his wife watch videos weekly. The important items include avoiding zoom, setting your camera to highest resolution (1080i) or higher, mic carefully, and set camera to 24 frames per second (which creates the film look and smaller file size). He encourages you to use a “shallow depth of field” which encourages viewer to focus on that which your camera focuses.  VideoUniversity has a nice piece on little nuggets like avoiding auto-white balance and any setting that is called an “enhancement” (which is almost as bad as the cursed “digital zooms,” which pixelate the video by cropping only a portion of the screen). And Techwaffle has a how-to video that shows you how to auto-focus and use your computer to control your camera (at least with the Canon 5D).

What’d a miss? Any tips you’ve learned and are willing to share? Even little things help — like how to use a laptop as a tele-prompt (something discussed in the valuable Videomaker forum). Finally, I’d be remiss not to mention Film Riot, a Revision3 show that is loaded with amateur-ready tips that produce very cool and otherwise-costly effects. Check it out.

Which Trailer Makes You Want “Dead Island” More?

Two trailers, with dramatically different approaches. The first is about a girl’s death, and takes the viewer backwards to experience it. The second, released recently, shows more game play, and is certainly more “blue” with its cursing and rap music.

From a marketer’s perspective, I like the sequence. The first creates intrigue and emotional connection to the story/game. The second gets you pretty jazzed (or in my case terrified) about game play.

 

10 Commandments For YouTube Cause Marketing

The Social Media for Nonprofits conference series kicks off in SF w/ @kanter, @GuyKawasaki & @jdlasica. bit.ly/lWLDQO #nonprofit #nptech

http://socialmedia4nonprofits.org/

Perfect timing for what I’d planned this week… The 10 Commandments for YouTube/Viral Marketing for Causes and Non-Profits…

1. Though Shall Not Stop With Text. If you blog, also vlog. Use video to simplify your message, and to SEO optimize it. A good video travels farther than great words.

2. Honor Thy Description. Pack cause-related videos with dense descriptions and tags, and links to websites placed prominently where they can be seen in YouTube’s truncated description.

3. Useth Thy Stigmatized Words Too. In thy language, be true to the “right” way to speak about thy cause. BUT also use words people actually search. If you’re promoting equal rights, add politically incorrect terms too.

4. You Shall Not Carry Thy Message Alone. Find those with large YouTube audiences who share your non-profit’s mission. Ask them to carry your message in their own voice. Expect not your boring video to be found and go viral.

5. Be Not Boring. In Title and Thumbnail Especially. A non-profit need not be dull. If humor, dancing, song and shock aren’t appropriate… than use emotional videos to promote sharing. Use metaphors or images to reach the hearts of viewers. Be bold, controversial, kind and uplifting. Don’t paint a hopeless situation. Fire people up with how close we are to solving your challenge, and find an entertaining way to ask them to help you reach the nearby finish line.

6. Ask Not Just For Money. Social currency is as important as cash. Just like asking for a token amount ($10) ask viewers for small gestures. A “like,” comment or “favorite” on a video is a donation that will help many others find the video, and that may be worth more than the non-social currency you call cash.

7. Focus Not on The Viral Video Idea Alone. Don’t stop with video ideas that you think may fly. Focus instead on getting the video seen via as many social mediums as possible. Ask your Facebook friends to share them, and highlight other videos related to your non-profit (even the “competitor” counter intuitively). Rather than do one “big” video, do many, many that are customized to various audiences and stakeholders.

8. Get Input Before Campaign. Ask people who are immersed in the medium for ideas. Even if they have none, they’ll be more likely to share your final work because they have “buy in.” It’s harder to say “no” when asked to spread a message if you’ve already provided some ideas before the message was cooked up.

9. Use Thy Coalition To Reach Webstars. YouTubers are bombarded with direct pleas, and begin to ignore messages (especially those via YouTube mail). Ask your advocates to reach out to YouTube “stars” via Twitter and Facebook. What top Tuber can ignore dozens of pleas mentioning his/her ne and a cause or non-profit? We all search our names on Twitter at least daily.

10. Time Thy Campaign to Project4Awesome. This Fall program spawned by the Vlogbrothers is the annual cause-awareness initiative on YouTube and even the least-viewed videos are usually seen more than the best-produced cause videos.

Tips for Filmmakers and Video Production

Nice piece in indie wire featuring Edwards Burn, where he talks about the beauty of low-cost production. No booms, lights, or film. Just a Canon 5D and a small budget. And the ideas? Crowdsourced.

P.S. My birthday is May 12 in case you wanted to buy me a Canon 5D. It’s less than $3500. If all of my susbcribers chipped in, it’d be a fraction of a penny. If all of my active viewers chipped in it would be just $35 each. If all of the readers of WillVideoForFood chipped in, it’d only be $3500 each.

what digital camera does edward eddy burns use
Edwards Burn uses a consumer SLR still camera to film his low-budget movies

Huffington Post Spotlights YouTube’s Best Videos

The Huffington Post shows off the best viral videos by weekly running a YouTube Trends report and turning it into journalism…

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/23/watch-top-youtube-videos_n_852890.html

Now we just need a YouTube amateur vlogger channel that summarizes the week’s most popular Huffington Post articles. And *boom* the Aol Video strategy is born.

P.S. Post your worst videos below. It’s time for a blog post on the worst videos of 2011. Not memes- just clips that make you cringe.

P.P.S. You’re really not supposed to use postscripts when you don’t sign your name. €£¥^%#~>•

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