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Here's a hoverboard that 'probably' won't explode

Repair website iFixit tears apart a Swagway and its charger and is pleasantly surprised.

Carrie Mihalcik Senior Editor / News
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Carrie Mihalcik
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Overall, the Swagway seems like a good hoverboard, iFixit said.


We've seen a lot of pictures lately of charred, smoldering hoverboard innards. Now, thanks to the repair gurus at iFixit, you can peek inside a hoverboard that doesn't have fire damage.

The iFixit site, which regularly cracks open high-profile gadgets, in collaboration with The Wirecutter took apart a Swagway and its charger. It's verdict is that "barring a couple of important nitpicks," the Swagway is a "well-constructed board."

Hoverboards -- or self-balancing boards, or smartboards, or whatever you want to call them -- went from must-have toy to potential hazard after reports of the boards catching fire or exploding started to roll in during December. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission is investigating 40 reported hoverboard fires across 19 states, focusing specifically on the lithium-ion batteries that power the boards.

South Bend, Indiana-based Swagway, whose board goes by the same name, is among 13 companies the CPSC said it's actively investigating. The company is also being sued by a New York man who reportedly claims the Swagway board he bought burst into flames and damaged his home. Swagway has said it plans to vigorously defend the lawsuit.

iFixit first looked at the Swagway's charger, an important component since some of the hoverboard fires have reportedly started while boards are charging. The charger components were well insulated and well secured, said iFixit, and unlikely to explode.

"The charger looks solid," said Ken Shirrff of Righto.com, who helped with the iFixit teardown. "I don't see any corners cut."

Inside the board, iFixit found a lithium-ion battery pack from Shenzhen Powers Co. The pack was made up of a "tidy block of 20 LG batteries with their own protection board." iFixit was reassured to see batteries from a reputable brand, but said the protection board from Shenzen Dalishen Technology had skimpy solder joints.

"So far this is the only sketchiness we've seen, although it is a bit concerning," wrote iFixit's Andrew Goldberg. "These particular solder joints are going to see a lot of power as the battery is charging and discharging."

Swagway said it has never wavered on the quality of its parts, including its batteries, and was glad iFixit took a closer look inside its board.

"Swagway from the beginning has used and continues to use only the highest quality branded battery cells in our boards," said a company spokesperson.

iFixit delved into the rest of the Swagway's ins and outs, including the wires and connectors, sensors and motors. You can read the full teardown on iFixit's website.

Overall, the Swagway seems like a good hoverboard, iFixit said. However, it did end things with a warning.

"At the very least, it probably won't turn into a Viking funeral pyre on wheels," wrote Goldberg, "but no guarantees."

Want to see more hoverboards taken apart? At CES 2016, TechRepublic's Bill Detwiler cracked open a hoverboard and explained why they can pose a serious fire hazard. Check it out in the video below.

Watch this: Hoverboards can be fun but also a serious fire hazard

Update, 6:30 p.m. PT: Adds comment from Swagway.