The hoverboard was undeniably the breakout gadget of 2015. So it's only fair the self-balancing two-wheeled scooters would show up in full force here at CES 2016, and Razor's Hovertrax is among the most talked about models in the category. That's because the brand known still for its handlebar toy scooters says its the only company legally allowed to sell hoverboards in the US thanks to an exclusive licensing agreement it inked earlier this year.
Luckily, Razor's version seems pretty good — and relatively cheap at $599.99 compared with the many $1,200 to $1,500 models out there. Also, the company wants you to know its model won't spontaneously combust under your feet.
Razor says its Hovertrax won't burn your house down
We gave the Hovertrax DLX a quick try in a corner of a Wynn hotel ballroom that was thankfully carpeted. The DLX differs from Razor's standard hoverboard because of a "high-tech smoke chrome finish" and blue LED lights. While it's hard to discern the nuances of hoverboard quality, the company claims its product is among the best, even if it is suing competitors to keep them from selling their own.
Research and development chief Bob Hadley says Razor clearly copied what was in the market, but then had its supply chain experts carefully vet every component choice. The company sourced batteries from Samsung, and made sure all the wiring wouldn't result in some catastrophic meltdown. "A lot of those hastily assembled ones don't have that," he adds. Hadley says Razor's licensing of inventor Shane Chen's hoverboard patent ensures it has access to the best design schematics. "We're trying to take an item and fine tune the supply chain to make it reliable," he says. Of course, take that with a grain of salt.
Hoverboard safety is a legitimate worry. Seemingly overnight, the vehicle went from a viral celebrity-endorsed phenomenon into an easy way to burn your house down. An influx of cheap hoverboards with questionable components tried to cash in on the trend, and their lithium-ion batteries started catching fire when plugged in or even while riding the hoverboard down the sidewalk.
Amazon began pulling nearly every hoverboard model from its online store, and they were shortly thereafter banned from every major US airline and shipping company for safety reasons. So even if you can easily get your hands on a Razor Hovertrax, it's still illegal to take it basically anywhere — even here at CES.