Every once in a while when I’m shooting a story with my cameraman, I draw a crowd. It doesn’t happen often –after all, I’m typically talking about scintillating stuff like networks or processors — but occasionally a gadget with serious cool factor comes my way.
Most recently, it was the ZBoard, a weight-sensing electric skateboard. I came across the electrified deck while covering a convention and the founders were kind enough to let me take one for a test drive, causing envy in dozens of fellow convention-goers.
A word of warning first: if you’re a serious skater, this may not be the board for you. It’s heavy — 30 pounds heavy. The board has a 400-watt motor and a battery attached to the bottom of the deck, so don’t expect to tuck this puppy under your arm and take a leisurely stroll down the street. This is your go-to board when you need to travel longer distances. Three miles on a regular skateboard is a haul, but with a top speed of 17 m.p.h., the ZBoard could make light work of the trip. Don’t try to stop at the skate park on the way, either. Since the ZBoard sports a few extra pounds, it’s not well-suited for ollies or tricks.
Riding the ZBoard is pretty intuitive. To go forward, lean your weight on your front foot and to slow down and stop, lean back. And here’s a bonus: when you lean back, regenerative braking kicks in. Just like an electric car. Cool.
The basic model will run you $550. Special editions cost about twice that, $1,100. The Santa Monica edition boasts a longer battery life and a smoother ride. The San Francisco special? It has a high torque motor for tackling the city’s sometimes brutal hills. (No word on how it would handle SF’s famous crooked street, though.)