Acton Blink Board Review: The Electric Skateboard With More Swag Than Hoverboards

Blink board
Acton's Blink Board starts at $499.00 and is available for pre-order. Acton

The 1989 classic flick Back To The Future II set some lofty expectations for Oct. 21, 2015. The "future" was supposed to promise flying cars running on garbage, self-lacing Nikes and, of course, the slick hoverboard. However, despite the movie’s impact on pop culture, reality ultimately paints a different picture.

The absence of the real hoverboard in 2015 brought forth an appetite for self-balancing scooters – better known as Swagways, PunkeeDucks and Soulja Boards – that adopted the hoverboard term and ran with it. But let's be real: McFly's iconic "hoverboard" is wasted on this silly looking gimmick. We're better than that and Acton's new Blink Board is here to prove it.

To be fair, the Blink Board isn't a hoverboard either, but Acton co-founder and CTO Peter Treadway never claimed it was and, unlike the Swagway, the electric-powered skateboard at least got the second half of the moniker right. Treadway describes the Blink Board  as highly portable transportation designed for "the last mile." Whether you're leaving a train station or wherever you park your car, the Blink Board will scoot you along for that final stretch to your destination.

Treadway and the Acton Blink Board visited iDigitalTimes and invited us to have a closer look.

DESIGN & TECHNICAL FEATURES

Acton boasts the Blink Board is the world's lightest electric skateboard and I wouldn't bet against it: the packaging is extremely smart and compact. In fact, it would be hard to tell a Blink Board from the retro Penny skateboards popular in the '80s at first glance and that's probably the biggest compliment Acton hopes to hear.

Under the Blink Board's 27-inch Canadian maple deck is a slim lithium ion battery pack, highlighted with a slick LED light strip, that powers an electric motor on  one of its fluorescent rear wheels. All in all, the Blink Board weighs just nine pounds.

Treadway said the packaging was the biggest challenge in designing the Blink Board. In order to serve as a "last mile" mode of transportation without limitations, the Blink Board had to be easy to handle, lightweight and durable without being prohibitively expensive.

While most rival electric skateboard companies have adopted a longboard design to allow for less restrictive battery designs, Acton chose the more compact Penny skateboard design for both a size and weight advantage. However, in order to retain some of the stability found in longboards, Acton pushed the trucks to the far edges of the board for a longer wheelbase.

The extra space between the trucks also enabled Acton to fit a relatively generous battery for its size. The 2Ah lithium battery provides the Blink Board with a max range of 6 miles at speeds up to 15 mph. The range may not sound like a lot, but it’s actually a very practical number considering that my walk from the iDigi office to the World Trade Center E train subway stop is 0.7 miles. What’s more, the Blink Board only asks an hour for a full charge, which is less time than one would spend at a brunch anyway.

Finally, the Blink Board is available with two unique graphics: "Purple Pattern" is a tribute to the '80s, featuring a sticker bomb pattern of stars and planets, hexagon emojis and Illuminati symbols (weird, but I dig it). "California Bear" features a more subdued brown graphic that will likely be the pick for the more mature Blink Board rider.

EXPERIENCE

Ugh, I’ll come clean: My skateboard experience prior to reviewing the Blink Board was limited to my friend’s driveway back in junior high. Regardless, Acton’s tutorial video looked simple enough and I was feeling pretty confident.

For one, the Bluetooth remote is very easy to use and feels similar to the Nintendo Wii’s Nunchuk in the palm. The remote features three settings: Right for Normal, Left for Pro (more torque and max speed), and the center turns the control off. A button on the side of the Blink Board’s battery turns on the board. The Blink Board also automatically turns itself off after some time has passed without receiving input from the remote, which conserves batteries without holding you responsible for remembering to switch it off yourself.

For seasoned skateboarders, the biggest transition necessary is to get comfortable with the remote’s throttle. As Treadway advised, a gentle throttle is key to riding the board. Too much juice and the board will do a burnout as it launches from under your feet.

That said, the remote was actually remarkably easy to use. The throttle was progressive and I was pretty surprised at how quickly I got the hang of it. For beginners like myself, the remote is way easier than mastering the kick, push and coast.

VERDICT

The Blink Board definitely ticks all the right boxes. It’s lightweight, sturdy, easy to use, quick charging and, in my humble opinion, has got way more swag than a Swagway. As far as shortcomings are concerned, the electric motor driving the rear wheels is integrated to the truck, which means that you will not be able to buy replacement components at your local skate shop. Instead, parts will have to be replaced or repaired by Acton itself. This also limits the amount of modification that is available to the skateboard enthusiast.

The Acton Blink Board is priced at $499.00 and is currently available for pre-order. Shipping begins early May.

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