Some are pleased to call the DreamWalker a real-life equivalent of Marty McFly’s hoverboard from the "Back to the Future" movies. It certainly has that look and feel, and you may feel like you’re zipping around the streets of Hill Valley once you learn how to use it. But it doesn’t operate like a hoverboard or even a skateboard. It's probably best described as a Segway without the handlebars. No matter what you call it, the DreamWalker is a great idea for the gadgethead on your Christmas gift list.
The proper name for this kind of machine is a self-balanced scooter. When you stand on it, the wheels move forward or backward depending on how much pressure you apply on each foot. It’s nothing like you’ve ever ridden before since your heels and the balls of your feet control the whole contraption. You can’t simply put on the gas pedal because there isn’t one, and you can’t put on the brakes because there aren’t any. There’s only forwards and backwards for each foot. Operating this scooter is more like dancing than driving a car or riding a bicycle.
It takes a few minutes to learn how to ride the DreamWalker correctly. Using this scooter is a delicate game of balance and grace. The first time you mount it, you’ll likely experience some mild juddering until you find your center of gravity. You may fall off a few times before you figure out how to stabilize the scooter once you’ve mounted it. Then you can learn the nuances of moving forwards and backwards as well as stopping and turning. You should get the hang of the basics in less than half an hour.
The most important thing to keep in mind while riding this machine is safety. Since there are no handlebars or other safety equipment, it can be difficult to stop quickly or make sharp turns. Tumbling off the scooter can cause serious injury if you’re going too fast, lose your balance, hit a bump or turn too sharply. It’s best to wear safety gear such as a helmet and elbow pads while riding it to minimize the risk of injury if you should wipe out on concrete or other hard surfaces.
Once you’ve mastered how to operate the scooter safely, it’s quite fun to use. It works best when you ride it along a flat surface. Taking it up steep hills or uneven ground is problematic at best. Sidewalks and driveways are fine as long as they’re in good repair. Level floors in public places like the mall or stores are easy to manage. But when you try to navigate uneven terrain or damaged concrete, you’ll have a much harder time and will most likely fall off and damage the scooter or hurt yourself.
When we took our DreamWalker out for a night on the town, it worked well and attracted a crowd at the local mall. We were able to navigate most of the stores we went into with ease. It also performed well downtown where the streets and sidewalks are particularly well maintained. It also works well in a modern office space where you have a level floor and room to maneuver. And the more you use it, the better you become at navigating obstacles and avoiding hazards in these relatively safe areas.
When the battery is fully charged, you can expect to get about four hours of continuous usage out of the scooter. It comes with a simple wall charger, and you’ll know the battery is full when the battery indicator stops flashing orange. You can ride as long as the battery indicator stays green. When it turns red, it means the power is very low and you need to step off soon to avoid the sudden inevitable stop when the battery runs out of juice.
The DreamWalker’s top speed is about 5 miles an hour. This may seem slow, but when you’re traveling that speed on a scooter, it only takes a small jostle to throw you off balance and onto the pavement. If you want to take it to top speed, make sure you do it in a place that’s flat and free from obstacles.
The DreamWalker is a fun and original gift idea for anyone who appreciates cutting-edge gadgetry. It takes a while to get used to it, but you should be able to conquer the learning curve in a couple of hours at the most. But as fun as it is, you must always use caution on this scooter. It can be a dangerous piece of equipment if you are irresponsible or behave unsafely. But at the end of the day, it will delight whomever you buy it for and make all their friends jealous.