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Hands-on Gear Review
Segway miniPro Review
Price: $800 List | $599.99 at Amazon
Pros: Exceptional battery life, stable, does a fantastic job at handling varied terrain
Cons: Expensive, harder to turn, not quite as fun
Bottom line: The best board for the commuter, the Segway gets you where you need to go
Breaking the mold a bit, the Segway miniPro looks substantially different than the other hoverboards. This model has larger, pneumatic tires, an astonishingly long battery life, and a completely different style of steering mechanism. While this model may not be the most fun, it is a dream to ride if you are actually planning on using this to go anywhere, earning it our Top Pick for Commuting Award. Think of this model as the SUV, compared to a go-kart, when comparing it to other models — not quite as fun and entertaining, but it gets the job done.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Segway evidently had serious thought put into its design. It has large, comfortable footpads and can tackle obstacles and terrain that other hoverboards can only dream about with its large rubber tires. This model automatically self-balances, meaning that it will maintain an upright position when there is no rider on it. The knee-bar style steering received mixed reactions, with some users disliking it while others felt it to be more intuitive and comfortable. However, they all agreed that it did restrict you slightly, and this board lacked the maneuverability of its smaller counterparts. While this board might not have been the most fun to ride, it was reliable and had a great range — even including a few fun and quirky features, like the ability to pilot it remotely from your phone.
As mentioned earlier, the Segway isn't the snappiest or most fun to ride. However, it still didn't do terrible in this category, earning a 5 out of 10. To evaluate this metric, we had a panel of riders take it through our obstacle course, seeing how it did with a slalom, high-speed straightaway, rapid turns, and multiple 360-degree revolutions.
This board's level of fun is mainly related to how smooth and stable it is. This board is fun because you aren't worried about falling off if you hit a tiny crack or bump, and it's comfortable enough to ride for an extended period of time. The knee steering mechanism make it a little awkward to do rapid turns, definitely making you feel like you would fall over to the side if turning too quickly. This board hit a top speed of 10.36 mph in our speed test, though the Segway does sound an alarm and begin to push back at you if you attempt to exceed its maximum speed by continuing to lean forward.
Additionally, a few other non-riding related things fell into the fun factor category. We checked how many colors it was available in, its compatibility with third-party products, and how much it weighed since carrying a heavy, cumbersome hoverboard is no fun at all. The board come in two colors — black and white — and did not fit with any of the accessories we purchased, as its design is so radically different than the other hoverboards.
This board was one of the heavier models we tested, weighing 30 pounds, but does have a telescoping handle so you can roll it behind you like a wheeled suitcase. The Segway does have Bluetooth connectivity, but it is not to play music. Rather, it is to connect to a mobile device to use its companion app, where you can see riding statistics, customize the lights, and even drive it around remotely.
The Segway absolutely demolished this category, earning a phenomenal 9 out of 10. This model has slightly over 10-inch diameter pneumatic tires, making it much more adept at clearing small cracks, rocks, and bumps in the roads. In addition to handling rougher roads with ease, the Segway did great at off-road terrain, such as grass, dirt, or packed sand.
This board cleared very large cracks — ones that would have completely stopped other boards in their tracks — and while it did jar you on some of the bigger cracks, we still managed to stay on the board (for the most part…). We also took this model up the steepest hill that we could find to see how it handled both the ascent and descent. The Segway failed to disappoint, delivering a great performance and was the most comfortable and stable of all the boards.
This board also was fantastic at covering short grass, or packed sand — good enough that you didn't really know you had even left the pavement. The board struggles a little with deeper sand and dirt, or longer, squishy grass, but it still does an exceptional job of handling itself off-road.
The Segway continued to show a great performance in our customer support test, earning a 7 out of 10 in this metric. This metric particularly stands out in this product category, as it makes up a much larger part of the overall score than it usually would, comprising 20 percent of final. This is because any of these small electric vehicles, based on our experience, have a tendency to become damaged or break after hard use. Having a manufacturer available to aid in troubleshooting, and — if absolutely necessary — repair the products can be invaluable.
However, this model was the exception to the rule, and didn't really sustain any damage throughout our tests, though it was a little less prone to crashing since it was so stable and did so well at off-road terrain. There is both a contact phone number and a dedicated technical support email line. We contacted them asking what we would need to do if we got a flat tire, and promptly received a detailed email with suggestions on exactly what to do, as well as what to do if we thought this warranted making a warranty claim.
This model is also currently sold exclusively through Amazon.com, so you have the added benefit of their customer support team as well. This model also has a limited warranty.
This model dominated the battery life test, having a substantially larger battery than its competitors, and earned a 9 out of 10 in this category. The Segway lasted for 14.7 miles in our range testing, having the double benefit of outlasting all of the other boards, and being one of the few boards that is comfortable enough to ride for that long of a period. This model also lasted for close to 2.5 hours in our runtime test in our obstacle course.
There is a downside to this extended battery life: charge time. This model took the longest of all the models to charge, taking around three hours in our test, with the manufacturer stating that it can take up to four hours.
This board is the most expensive of all the models that we tested, but it is the only one that has the range and capabilities to act as a commuter vehicle. This makes it a great value if that suits you, but can otherwise make it substantially too expensive if you were just going to use this for fun.
All in all, the Segway is a great product. This board has an exceptional range, great customer support, and can handle most off-road conditions that you throw at it. The only area where this board didn't completely shine is in our fun factor test. This board might not be the most fun to ride just to ride, but it does an exceptional job of getting you where you need to go. This coupled, with its high list price, can make it a little more suitable for grown-ups, rather than for the kids (or kids at heart!).
— David Wise and Austin Palmer
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