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).

 

Double Dream Hands Guy on Sprint Ads

Double Dream Hands Guys on Sprint Ad

Who’s that guy in the green shirt dancing in Sprint ads? Well you heard about “double dream hands” guy here first, right? (Heck I even own one of his yellow shirts).

Now he’s back with “double dream feet,” which appearance in a Sprint television ad (and, above, as repurposed on YouTube). He’s John Jacobson, and his new YouTube channel is here.

Double Dream Hands Guy is Back With Double Dream Feet (and Sprint Ad)

 

 

Double Dream “Paws” Cat

Remember Mark Day? Showing he still cares, he’s jumped on the Double Dream Hands wave with a cat. It’s a rather perfect formula, and an irresistibly inviting thumbnail even before I knew it was Mark’s cat. Cats sell, kids. Forget what your marketing teachers ever told you about cows.

To recap the “Double Dream Hands” saga:

P.S. I’ll bet you a solid hunk of feta cheese that if you click this link you’ll have this Tigger song stuck on your head for the day.

Tosh 2.0, Meet Double Dream Hands!

Well apparently I fell asleep on the viral road tour last month, because I completely missed the “Double Dream Hands” mini-meme, which seemed to have peaked in December 2010.

This morning I was encouraged by YouTube’s recommendations to subscribe to Fisheloph. The odd name, with the creepy thumbnail was more than I could resist, and I was tickled to discover this “Double Dream Hands” video featuring this most peculiar choreography instructional video for something called “Planet Rock.” Then I noticed a sea of parodies and variations suggestive of a meme… some with few views but worthy of more.

Choreographer John Jacobson brings the "Double Dream Hands" to the masses

For some background on this mini-meme, check out Eliot Glazer’s URLesque article about John Jacobson (his official site), that charismatic dancer who “is apparently on break from his shift at Petco.” In fact, after you learn his dance, you can buy his yellow polo if you want to get hip to the 2011 fashion trend.

So if you’ve seen this one, please shed some light. If you haven’t, please meet the 2010/2011 Double Rainbow… it’s Double Dream Hands, and we’d expect to see him on Tosh 2.0 soon. And be sure to see Hanford High School’s gym performance of Jacobson’s dance, accompanied by his vocal instructions. I’d like to see Tosh erecting the dance, and culminating with something as bodacious as Perez Hilton shooting Double Rainbows out his butt.

We hope to see the "Double Dream Hands" guy on Tosh 2.0 in a celebration of absurdity and ambiguous gayness. Add a swastika and some black jokes to jazz it up even more.

“One-Hit Wonder” Viral Videos Earn Cash: David at Dentist, Numa Kid, Charlie Bit Finger

So you got lucky and had a video go “viral.” Now what do you do?

YouTube is now giving “one-hit wonders” a chance to become a YouTube Partner, where they’re eligible to earn a percent of advertising revenue from their videos. This may, of course, be frustrating to those who have applied for the Partnership program, but have been refused — most likely because some of their videos contain copyright infringements, but sometimes perhaps because their videos aren’t garnering enough views to make it worthwhile for YouTube or the Partner.

But it makes sense, as the “David After Dentist” story illustrates. And remember that this is not new. Revver helped EeepyBird fetch more than $35,000 from the Diet Coke & Mentos video in 2006.

David After Dentist

About 2 weeks after “David After Dentist” went viral (now at 28 million views), I received a nice note seeking advice from David’s dad (Booba1234). “We are still trying to process all this,” he said. “I am not looking to exploit David in anyway. However, we don’t want to miss an opportunity IF there is one.”

He even offered to pay me for help, and I told him he was silly. I referred him to the YouTube Partner peeps, encouraged him to monetize it (hey, college savings), but I wasn’t sure he’d get approved. My e-mail note said: “If your video had been monetized (already), you would have made a few hundred bucks (at that point). The trick is that joining the YouTube Partner program takes some time, and sometimes requires more videos…”

I was thrilled to see Booba1234 was put on a “fast track” and is now a YouTube Partner… but I can’t take credit.

In retrospect, I realize how easy it must have been for YouTube to say yes. At nearly 30 million views, “David at the Dentist” video has probably been viewed more times than the entire history of many existing YouTube Partner channels. It’s not “charity” to help one-hit wonders monetize. YouTube also profited from the viral sensations as soon as it was able to include the video in partner content (where it fetches exponentially more dollars per view than the mass of other content on its site).

The lesson? If you hit the “viral lottery” with a video, apply for a YouTube Partner account as quickly as possible. While YouTube historically accepted only established video creators who were “most subscribed” or posted videos fairly frequently, the company is eager to monetize the “long tail” of video content… and frankly some of these “viral one-hit wonders” qualify as part of the “short tail.” BUT don’t waste a lot of effort creating more content unless you enjoy it, or you have more video that will interest the same audience who devoured your one-hit wonder.

While it’s nice for these viralizers to have residual income from one video, few “one-hit wonders” have succeeded in evolving that into a broader platform. For example,  David’s dad has only about 15K subscribers, and has posted just a few videos since “David at the Dentist” went viral 7 months ago (January 2009). He is trying to monetize his classic moment in other ways: offering the video for sale (via download) for $1.99, and a link to a t-shirt website (http://www.davidafterdentist.com), which is currently dead.

Numa Numa kid

Similarly, the famed Gary Brolsma aka “Numa Numa kid” will enjoy continued revenue from his one-hit wonder (assuming they find his original and not the myriad of ripoffs). And his “return” video fetched a nice 13 million views. But his new channel (NewNuma) has under 35,000 subscribers and is basically distributing unrelated content by other creators, presumably who pay him for a cost-efficient way to access his residual audience.

And look at Cynthia Holmes’ Otters Holding Hands, which has partner ads but sits in a channel with fewer than 500 subscribers. She’s posted more videos of her kids, but they’re not getting noteworthy views.

Then there are some one-hit wonders like “Evolution of Dance” (YouTube’s most-viewed video) that infringes on copyrights and can’t likely be monetized. And dancer Jason Laipply has done precious little to extend his platform since (unless you count a sponsorship for Stopain under the guise of being an  arthritis foundation video, which was viewed under 50,000 times.

Charlie BIT MY FINGER T-SHIRT

An exception? The parents of “Charlie Bit My Finger” have an account, HDCYT, with 57,000 subscribers, and have continued to post well-viewed videos ranging from cute new ones to television recaps about Charlie. He’s also selling t-shirts. Perhaps there’s something enchanting about watching these kids grow up… a sharp contrast from the awkward return of Numa Numa or unrelated sequels to a cute otter moment.