LAS VEGAS — Hoverboards might be the big trend in personal transportation right now, but Acton is staking claim in an old standby: the skateboard. Acton's Blink-Board is controlled wirelessly via Bluetooth, something the company says is a first. I tried the skateboard at CES 2016, and found it remarkably similar to a regular skateboard, minus the motor. It is scheduled to ship at the end of January for $499.
Riders can control the Blink-Board with either a smartphone app for Android or iOS or an accompanying remote. The app, which wasn't available to be shown at CES, will include geo-tracking to let users check their speed and battery level, and record their routes.
There's a speed for every rider, with settings called Beginner (that would be me), Normal and Pro. Acton claims that the Blink-Board has a maximum speed of 15 MPH with its 1500 watt motor. That's faster than most hoverboards, which tend to fall in the 7 to 10 MPH range. It has an estimated range of 6.5 miles or 45 minutes on a charge and takes two hours to recharge.
Credit: Andrew E. Freedman/Tom's GuideWhen I tried riding the Blink-Board in Acton's booth (wearing my safety helmet, of course), it felt just like the skateboard I used to ride up as a kid. I wasn't any more skilled on the Blink-Board, but I found the remote to be really intuitive. The skateboard felt sturdy and was smooth to ride. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to try the app as a controller on the show floor.
The skate deck is made of Canadian maple wood and is approximately 2.2 feet long. The three-inch wheels are made of polyurethane. The whole board weighs about 10 pounds and will come in two designs — a purple deck with cartoony designs or one with a subtle deck with a California Bear emblazoned on the top. The company claims that the Blink-Board will support riders up to 220 pounds.
I can't see anyone taking the Blink Board to a skate park, but with some practice, perhaps the Blink-Board will be a skateboard I can eventually ride down the street with some poise. But first I'll need a sense of balance good enough to handle beginner speeds.