Swagtron T380 Review
Pros: Stable at speed, nimble, inexpensive
Cons: Limited range/ battery life, performance limited on soft surfaces
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Scoring top marks in the fun factor and in customer support categories, Swagtron nailed the design of the T380 for non-commuting, all ages recreational cruising. We rewarded the attention to detail and relative affordability with our Editor's Choice award for all-around performance. However, this ride does come with its limitations; namely it's lack of range and versatility. The T380 has a short battery life and excels exclusively on smooth surfaces.
TechGearLab has been researching, testing, and comparing hoverboards for nearly three years. We have a good handle on what makes these machines fun, durable, and a good value. Accordingly, we have split our test regime into four metrics — fun factor, outdoor capabilities, support, and battery — which cover every pertinent aspect of hoverboard design, performance, and maintenance. The Swagtron T380's achievement in each is discussed at length below.
There are a lot of electric modes of transportation out there these days, but none eschew utility for fun to the same degree as hoverboards. Accordingly, the fun metric is weighted as much as the other three metrics combined! To drill down on what makes something fun we looked at five features or characteristics that, when satisfied, produce what we consider to be a good time. Our sub metrics included top speed, traversing an obstacle course, weight (lugging around a heavy board is NOT fun), available color options, Bluetooth connectivity, and if there were easily accessible accessories such as aftermarket skins and bags.
Despite its middling max speed, the T380 delivers a level of dexterity in the obstacle course that eclipsed the best of its peers. While not the lightest in its class, it is well below the average at 22.1 lbs. Colors? The Swagtron has colors: white, black, pink and blue. However, as of this review there are no aftermarket skins or bags available for purchase. Finally, this sweet chariot comes Bluetooth ready and has onboard speakers to bump your favorite tunes while you cruise. Swagtron's app records stats such as speed and battery charge. All and all, this product is a veritable fun factory on two wheels.
Okay, so we know that the T380 is fun. But what are its limitations? All of the fun factor tests were performed on a smooth concrete surface. What happens when we take these machines out into the wild? To get at this question we tested the hoverboards on a variety of surfaces such as inclines, grass, dirt, sand, and cracked tarmac. Additionally, we assessed the ability of these boards to cross thresholds like those found at the base industrial double doors.
In the outdoor capabilities category the Swagtron renders an average performance. However, this isn't the whole story. If one looks at the tires of the products that outperformed the T380 (which are quite a bit larger), then the capability of this model rightfully looks pretty good. Regardless of the reasoning for the middling performance, if you want to go off-roading on one of these machines, then there are better options to be sure. However, if you have to, you can off-road this model in moderation.
Support is a somewhat vague title for this paramount metric which evaluates what happens when things go wrong with your hoverboard. To get at this concept we asked ourselves what could go wrong and what would be the easiest solution to our hypothetical problem. First, we researched the options a customer has to contact the manufacturer. Next, we contacted said manufacturer (in this case with an email) and recorded the response time. Once we received a response, we rated how helpful it was based on whether it resolved our problem. Because we have reviewed several Swagtron products over the years we have run this test several times. While response times have varied (a week being the max time that we have had to wait), the responses are generally helpful. Additionally, these guys list a telephone number - I know! A rarity these days. And they offer a one year limited warranty.
One aspect of the support metric that isn't hypothetical is the crashes that occurred on these machines as we attempted to push them to their limits of speed, cornering, and range. The T380 proved to be quite tough, as it withstood the battery of tests we ran it through with aggressive adults (opposed to playful children) in the cockpit. The only complaint coming from our test team was that, in the event of a crash, the rubber bumper would fall off. However, the bumper did what it was designed to do - namely, mitigate impacts - and it quickly snapped back into place.
Battery is a key metric. It assesses how long you can cruise on your board, how far you can go, and when it's all said and done, how long you'll have to wait for a full recharge. The range test was conducted on a flat track that was looped continuously until the hoverboard could no longer propel the tester. The "fun" time was measured in the obstacle course. Zipping around is a more realistic use of how a hoverboard might be used. Lastly, charge time was measured how quickly the board was able to be charged from zero to full.
The T380 made its worst showing in this metric. It just doesn't have a large capacity power cell. Its maximum range is about four miles, its run time is around 50 minutes, and it recharges in about an hour and a half.
With a couple hundred dollar entry fee to what we'd say was a really fun ride, it's fair to describe the Swagtron T380 is a value purchase. To be frank, this description doesn't do this board justice so I will reiterate. The T380 is hundreds of dollars cheaper than the other award winners in this review, and it can take most of its peers to task.
If you'll primarily use your hoverboard as a means of recreation and not transportation, then look no further than the agile, fleet and affordable T380. We enjoyed the ride, and we think you will as well.
— Nick Miley and Austin Palmer