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Gotway Nikola

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So I like electric unicycles which I basically regard as a revolution in personal transportation. They are quick, switch easily between riding and walking, and consume very little space. My Inmotion V10 served me well for 4000 km, but its limited range of 30km was getting me on my nerves, especially during summer times, where multiple charging sessions were needed during a day. But apart from that, I really enjoyed riding this thing.

Looking around for a new wheel was easy and yet very difficult. I wanted a recent 1500+Wh model, so that limited the choice between the KS16X and the Nikola. It took me months to decide between both. Both are very fine wheels, but the reports about the water- and dust inlet of the KS16X let me skip this wheel (someone remembers the waterproofing issues of the V10 some months after launch ? I really needed a wheel which I can occasionally drive through some rain without fear of having a brick few days later). Shame, I really really like the looks of the KS16X, definitively the better looking wheel of those 2, it reminds me of the Z10 with those fantastic LEDs.

I initially was looking at the Nikola+ 2100Wh, but put it down as I feared for the sheer weight (my daily commute has a fairly amount of steps). As the 100V 21700 model came it out with its double battery pack, it meant better stability and lesser weight, so I was sold.

The wheel performs marvellously : riding it feels like a magic carpet, and my range has been increased from 30 km to 70 on a single charging session. It's also super stable, with only a few wobbles at high speed, mostly due to badly positioned feet on the pedals. The most noticeable disadvantage is the stock CST tire, which has a nagging desire to stay upright, even when taking turns (the so-called gyro effect). This implies leaning horribly to the left or right (like on a motor cycle) which feels a bit eerie, especially at high speeds.

Inmotion V10

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So I got my Xiaomi M365 e-scooter a few months, and it quickly started to show quite some disadvantages. The most annoying was the weak motor : going up some long hills quickly forced me to step off as the e-scooter came to a grinding halt. The autonomy was low which required a daily charging session of 4 hours. Another issue was the bulky form factor which made the transportation on the train a bit cumbersome. And last but not least : an e-scooter still looks like a childs toy. I know I'm a grown-up child, but that doesn't mean I want to shout it out to everyone.

In the mean time, I've encountered some information on monowheels: they are single wheeled devices with pedals on the side. It looks quite daunting to use one, but when I received my Inmotion V10, I was immediately sold. This kind of device is really revolutionary : powerfull motor, great range and looks. It is compact enough to easily take it on the public transport, and has a maximum speed of 40 kph.

It however took me quite a few days to learn to ride this thing : only after a week with a daily exercise session of half an hour, things finally 'clicked' inside my head, and a week later, I found myself confident enough to ride in traffic. So a steep learning curve indeed, but when you persist, the reward is immense : riding this thing feels like you're flying !

M365

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No, this isn't a post about Microsoft, judging by the title. I'm talking about the Xiaomi M365 electric step. I've been looking lately to use my car way less, partially due to the fact that parking space is very limited at the train station. Getting fines for not parking at designated places surely doesn't help either. It took me a while to obtain a M365 before summer, but eventually I got it. The e-step has an autonomy of 20km (in my case), and this just suffices for the round-trip from/to the station. The step has a maximum speed of 25km/h, which is 'acceptable' : I would have preferred a bit faster, as taking over bikes sometimes takes a while.

This e-step is quite high-tech : it features cruise-control, ABS and KERS, which makes me hardly use the brakes. Cruising at 25km/h really is a blast, and I have really become quite fond at my daily ride with it. Additionally, it allows me to explore different routes, is more versatile than a bike, and can be taken with me on the train (although the size, even when folded, is quite large).

There's a quite active group of 'developers' around this e-step, creating custom firmware which allows to change different parameters such as maximum speed or KERS control. I've tested out a few, but additional speed comes with too much impact on the battery, so that I decided to stick with the official firmware.

Pebble Time Steel

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A year ago I made the upgrade to a Pebble Time Steel. I really have fallen in love with the Pebble smartwatch, and Android Wear of the Apple iWatch were no valid candidates due to their shortcomings in battery life & user interfaces. The PTS upgrades the Pebble experience finally with a color screen (though the readability indoors is disappointing), and the smartwatch really looks like a watch now (Pebble OG looked like plastic toy). This thing survives nine days on a single charge which is one of the main advantages of Pebble hardware. I could never support a daily charge cycle on a smartwatch, which makes the Pebble Round (2 days on a charge) a no-go.

However, Pebble Time still has its drawbacks : it carries a large bezel (which is now addressed in Pebble Time 2), and the screen resolution remains far below Android/Apple competing devices.

The largest surprise was the Pebble Timeline in firmware 3.x : it carries your whole daily agenda on a glance within a single button press, and this has become one of the most pleasant features of the smartwatch.

Pebble

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The smart phone market is saturated : nowadays, everyone and their mums and dads are having smartphones. So for tech companies, bringing new stuff onto the market isn't so easy anymore. In the past, it was just all about increasing the size of mobile devices, but in most countries, the size of the smartphone seems to have hit the 5 inch barrier, above which most consumers find a phone too large.

That's why manufacturers are pushing the smart watch so much : if you believe them, 2014 will be the boost year for wearable devices. After all, Google will release its Glass device into the wild. However, most smart watch prototypes seem more like a mini smartphone on your wrist. Large bulky devices, with touch screens and too much functionality crammed into a too small screen.

This is where the Pebble shines : with its black and white screen in low resolution, it seems almost a mockery, as someone jestingly released a mini Palm Pilot for your wrist. But by keeping the functionality down, Pebble tries to focus onto the core features of what defines a smartwatch : mostly, it's a watch, and not a mobile phone strapped onto your wrist.

It took a while before I took the plunge, and decided to buy a Pebble. So far, I don't regret it : being able to glance to my wrist in order to see what notifications I received on my phone is a gods gift. It is by far the killer feature of the device; something so banal, it's almost incredible, and by far the biggest surprise of the Pebble. Another killer feature are the watch faces : I like watches, and the Pebble offers thousands of creative and sometimes funny ways of depicting the time of day. And the standby time really is stellar : after the first charging, the device was able to hold on for an astonishing 6 days, despite some quite heavy usage.

But the Pebble also has drawbacks, and that seems logical for a technology so young. By far, the Android experience is a bit of a let down : the SDK2.0 offers way more functionality than it predecessor, but the accompanying app on Android (including a real app store), is still in beta, which results in connectivity drops, a slow app market experience and high smart phone battery usage. Granted, the app is still young and in beta, so pointing this out as a large drawback may be a bit unfair. Another thing which irritates me is the 8-app barrier that is built into the device : it can only hold 8 watch faces or apps, which is at least two times too small.

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