The impressive amount of technology baked into the Mozzie hoverboard reminds me that this sort of device wouldn't have even been feasible 20 years ago. Compact motors and battery make it go, while sensors help keep it stable and let me control how it moves. To tweak its settings, it connects to a smartphone app.
But that doesn't mean I enjoy riding the Mozzie hoverboard, or any other hoverboard for that matter. I'll rant on that more, but let's consider this hoverboard's attributes.
Mozzie maker Cutting Edge Products is one of a few companies reviving the idea of the hoverboard after so many burst into flame a couple of years ago. This new batch, including the Mozzie hoverboard, complies with UL 2272, a standard designed to ensure fire safety.
Following the traditional hoverboard concept, the Mozzie is basically a plank with wheels at both ends. You ride it by standing on the plank, feet apart. Tipping your feet forward or back gets the Mozzie going, while shifting your weight to one side of the other makes it turn.
With the Mozzie, the "plank" houses two 350-watt motors, a 106 watt-hour lithium-phosphate battery, sensors, lights and even Bluetooth speakers. Unlike the older, unsafe hoverboards, Mozzie doesn't have a swivel in the middle of its plank. Its internal sensors are smart enough to figure out when your weight shifts on one side or the other.
After charging it up, I find that riding the Mozzie is straightforward. Push the power button in its center, stand on the rubber footpads, tip my feet forward a little and I'm heading down the sidewalk. It feels a little precarious, but I find bending my knees helps my feeling of stability.
Tipping one foot forward, or just leaning, makes Mozzie turn. It takes a few minutes to get used to it, but it works well. Given more time to practice, I imagine I'd be doing snowboard-like sweeping turns with ease.
Hard rubber tires make the ride rough on my knees when I take th Mozzie onto pavement, and I know I would give up long before reaching its 8- to 10-mile range. However, the wheels are big enough to ride over typical sidewalk cracks without a sudden stop.
Mozzie's handles on either side of the plank, with rubberized grips, should make it convenient to take on public transit, but at 26 pounds, it's a lot to carry around. If I were to walk through subway stations with it, I'd certainly be developing my upper body strength, making up for the lack of walking the board lets me get away with.
Using the Mozzie Android app on a smartphone, I adjust the ride sensitivity and top speed, setting everything for maximum safety. I can also change the color of the front and rear lights with the app, although the concept of front and rear on the Mozzie seems fungible, based on the direction you happen to be traveling. A spokesman tells me that an iOS app for the Mozzie is on the way.
Maybe it's theI'm using to test the app, but the Bluetooth connection to the Mozzie drops in and out.
Along with adjusting settings with the app, I can also play music from the smartphone through the Mozzie's Bluetooth connection, and its built-in speakers are loud. I can think of a few events where it might be fun to roll down the street, blasting music while running the Mozzie's light show. But I wouldn't want to do it on my regular commute, before folks on the sidewalk around me have had their coffee.
One pleasant surprise is the Mozzie's price. At $549 it seems inexpensive for such a robust rideable. It costs significantly less than thethat came out recently.
Despite the low price and solid feature-set, I won't be riding Mozzie for my first-mile or last-mile commute. While standing on the hoverboard, I can't help but feel there's a faceplant in my future. The lateral axis of the wheels and board means no real forward stability, so that any sudden stops will result in a quick introduction to the pavement. Give me a scooter, skateboard or bicycle, with comfortable longitudinal stability.
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