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CES: A Lighter, Cheaper Segway

Kelli B. Grant

Senior consumer reporter and “Deal of Day” columnist Kelli B. Grant travels to Las Vegas to find the best, the worst, and the most hyped gadgets at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. Join her as she roams the exhibit floor for three days, with dispatches here and on Twitter @kellibgrant.

Remember the Segway? Back in 2001, analysts hailed the two-wheeled electric vehicle as the next big thing in personal transportation. But at 100 pounds and a price tag of more than $5,000, it didn’t roll with most lifestyles.

Inventist is taking another stab at the category, with the new Solowheel. Here’s how this 21st Century unicycle works: Users zip along on the battery-powered device’s single wheel with their feet on pedals to either side. (OK, “zip” is relative. It goes 10mph, max.)

“Gyroscopic” technology lets the device sense when the rider is leaning forward or back, and shifts balance accordingly. Shift left or right to turn. A spokeswoman says that the Solowheel is easier to ride than it looks, but there is still a learning curve. (Surely, someone will warn former President George W. Bush, who famously face-planted during his first Segway experience.)

But the Solowheel may not be ready for prime-time use just yet. At $1,800, it’s still an expensive tech toy. Plus, the battery only lasts for two hours. A spokeswoman says the battery recharges quickly to allow commuters and errand-runners ample power.


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  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to quentin.fottrell@dowjones.com or tweet @SMPayDirt.