Juha Saarinen is a tech blogger for nzherald.co.nz.

Gear Friday: Self-balancing board, anyone?

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With an estimated range of 20 kilometres, you could use the Ghost Board for short commutes. Photo / Juha Saarinen
With an estimated range of 20 kilometres, you could use the Ghost Board for short commutes. Photo / Juha Saarinen

Right, I'll admit it: nobody needs a self-balancing board that's propelled by an electric motor, especially when they're just one dollar shy of $800.

They're fun though, like the Ghost Board that I tried out.

These things are often called hoverboards as per the Back to the Future reference, but the Ghost is a two-wheeler and the Wellington based outfit sensibly enough doesn't pretend the thing can levitate off the ground.

The Ghost Board is solidly built, weighing ten kilograms and has a two motors driving the 6.5-inch diameter tyres. With 600 Watts of output in total, that's enough to carry riders up to 120 kg at 10 kilometres an hour, at a maximum incline of 20 degrees.

They're made in China, by a company called Kamil Electric Technology, and you can find them elsewhere as the "Electric Balance Scooter".

There have been stories about boards (or the batteries in them rather) catching on fire; in that respect, the Ghost Board has CE, FCC, and C-Tick safety certifications, and complies with the European Union Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive, for reducing environmentally unfriendly manufacturing materials.

Riding, if that's the right word, on the Ghost Board is easy.

Well, I found it easy at least, once you relax and don't fight the board which is split in two - you move forward and backwards by tilting the halves - for maneouvering.

Here's the Ghost Board in action:

(Apologies for the cheap supermarket socks in the video.)

The only tricky bit is when you want to get off because you don't want to have one foot on the Ghost Board as it can veer off if you press down on it.

Other people who tried the Ghost Board couldn't relax and didn't trust it to balance properly during the ride; there's a learner mode that helps to get the hang of the board, making it less twitchy, and I would suggest having somewhere to grab hold of the first few rides as well, to build up confidence.

Also, I found it easier to get started riding barefoot on the Ghost Board. Shoes make it harder to steer the board so use ones with thin soles when you're outside and want protection for your feet.

I never graduated to handstands and other tricks more seasoned riders are capable of, but it was fun to spin around with sharp 90 and 180 turns, and zoom along footpaths.

The wheels are big enough to cope with small bumps and ruts without the rider coming off the Ghost Board, and the whole thing seems robust enough be used outdoors without worries.

The local representatives state the Ghost Board lasts for three hours, and I got a similar amount of time out of it. On the flip side, charging the board takes about three hours too, as the LG-made batteries are large. Unfortunately, Ghost Boards don't say how many charges the batteries can take, or if they can be replaced - I have asked, and will update the story when I know.

With an estimated range of 20 kilometres, you could even use the Ghost Board for short commutes but... I'm not sure I'd do that, for reasons that don't need to be spelled out.

Now, a word of warning: the Ghost Board is as I said solidly built and fairly heavy. If you run into someone or something, you will cause hurt and/or break stuff (sorry, cat, I know, that was your favourite biscuit bowl that I smashed with the board).

Ride the Ghost Board carefully and safely, in other words.

- NZ Herald

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Juha Saarinen is a tech blogger for nzherald.co.nz.

Juha Saarinen is a technology journalist and writer living in Auckland. Apart from contributing to the New Zealand Herald over the years, he has written for the Guardian, Wired, PC World, Computerworld and ITnews Australia, covering networking, hardware, software, enterprise IT as well as the business and social aspects of computing. A firm believer in the principle that trying stuff out makes you understand things better, he spends way too much time wondering why things just don’t work.

Read more by Juha Saarinen

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