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Thread: Just demo'd SmartDrive

  1. #1
    Senior Member grommet's Avatar
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    Just demo'd SmartDrive

    It hasn't been five minutes since the SmartDrive rep left and I'm writing a quick review.

    First of all, I am sold on the performance. It works, definitely and if the thing cost $1,500 I would have bought it on the spot. But, it costs $6,000. Now we're in a different world and there were some problems for me. The button is easy enough to reach but there is no way to tell when the unit is turned on or off out in the real world. In my living room I could hear the beeps, no prob. I could also while indoors lean over (tough place to put the indicator lights - on the front of the unit). Over and over I tried to see if it was on or off while outside and couldn't do it. At one point the rep got on his knees and shielded the green LED light with his hand and still couldn't see if it was on. Problem.

    The cruise-control is fabulous and I think I would be using it the most. The assist took some getting used to and didn't do what I expected but that's on me, I just had certain ideas about how it would work.

    The plug connection: looks and feels fragile. It was easy to reach around and plug but the connector is loose even while locked. Also I am concerned about a shearing force like a hand swinging by reaching for it and snapping it off sideways. Maybe it's tougher than my impression, I don't know.

    This is just a quick review. I would like to have one for the performance. The button needs to be moved or have a remote and it simply has to have an indicator light mounted on top of the battery unit, for me to want to buy. Even then I still need more time with this thing to decide on spending $6,000. That's just too much money out of pocket on something you haven't been able to live with a little. A rental or lending program from SmartDrive would be the way to go as I see it. It's just too much money to guess what it would be like to live with the thing but, the performance is definitely there.

    --I wanted to add some more info. I took the SmartDrive up a pretty steep hill using the cruise-control and it worked great, lots of power. Another thing it did very well was move at slow speed. I triedit inside my place on the carpet and just barely got it going. It kept cruising at exactly that speed. I think it would do very well on long carpeted hallways. I also took it down some very easy steps (didn't want the rep getting too nervous) and it was different than riding without it but it came down alright. By the way I had it carefully turned off before I went down. On how it sounds, I noticed some sound while indoors but it was pretty slight and nothing that bothered me but what really impressed me was that with the unit off I noticed no drag at all from the wheel. I thought there would be some but I didn't feel any. That was very cool. Taking the unit on and off was as easy for me as I've seen it's been for others. It really has possibilities. I guess the price won't be going down but maybe the button and on/off indicator lights will be (to my mind) improved.

    >>Update 5/10/13

    Just off the phone with Max Mobility, here's some new info on the SmartDrive. They have solved the problem of mounting the battery unit on Tilite TR2's and other chairs with shallow underseat crossbraces. It's some kind of sling and I was told there would be no charge for it. The other thing is yes, they are working on a quad-friendly power switch and it's going to be wireless running Bluetooth. It's months away with no certain date. Oh, the connector to the drive unit is now metal not plastic.
    Last edited by grommet; 05-10-2013 at 01:37 PM. Reason: added info

  2. #2
    What is your purpose of using one? Just curious.

  3. #3
    Senior Member grommet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by smashms View Post
    I test drove it at the abilities expo and loved the cruise control but I also wasn't too keen on the price point.
    Yeah, I just don't know yet if it's worth that much to me.

  4. #4
    Senior Member grommet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Virgil View Post
    What is your purpose of using one? Just curious.
    My shoulders are getting bad. I feel like this year I may have to make a choice about using a powerchair mostly full-time. I don't want to give up the freedom of a manual but I've been able to do less and less. My hope is that something like the SmartDrive could keep me in a manual for years to come.

  5. #5
    Price is based on other power assists and what 3rd party payers like Medicare and Insurance will pay. Thanks for the review. Short but informative.
    You will find a guide to preserving shoulder function @
    http://www.rstce.pitt.edu/RSTCE_Reso...imb_Injury.pdf

    See my personal webpage @
    http://cccforum55.freehostia.com/

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    Senior Member chris-k's Avatar
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    A picture is worth a thousand words...


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    Quote Originally Posted by grommet View Post
    First of all, I am sold on the performance. It works, definitely and if the thing cost $1,500 I would have bought it on the spot. But, it costs $6,000.

    I would like to have one for the performance. The button needs to be moved or have a remote and it simply has to have an indicator light mounted on top of the battery unit, for me to want to buy. Even then I still need more time with this thing to decide on spending $6,000. That's just too much money out of pocket on something you haven't been able to live with a little. A rental or lending program from SmartDrive would be the way to go as I see it. It's just too much money to guess what it would be like to live with the thing but, the performance is definitely there.
    Have you tried/considered a Firefly Grommet? $2000 is significantly cheaper than $6000, and whilst there are differences in performance (both positively and negatively in my opinion) I know that Toto is happy with his Firefly, as is my son, and $2k is a reasonable price when you know how much the components cost. Both the Firefly and SmartDrive are options to keep you in that manual chair.

    http://sci.rutgers.edu/forum/showthr...ferrerid=23044
    Gordon, father of son who became t6 paraplegic at the age of 4 in 2007 as a result of surgery to remove a spinal tumour.

  8. #8
    Senior Member grommet's Avatar
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    Gordy, thanks for the suggestion. I did think about The Firefly, the company is actually only a couple of miles from my place. But I don't want something that adds length to the chair and would (I think) make it harder to get in and out of places. That said, your point about the price is a very good one and I may have to check the Firefly out. I probably should just because they are so close. Really what I like about the SmartDrive over everything else is that it pretty much disappears under the chair.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by grommet View Post
    Gordy, thanks for the suggestion. I did think about The Firefly, the company is actually only a couple of miles from my place. But I don't want something that adds length to the chair and would (I think) make it harder to get in and out of places. That said, your point about the price is a very good one and I may have to check the Firefly out. I probably should just because they are so close. Really what I like about the SmartDrive over everything else is that it pretty much disappears under the chair.
    Given how close you are to them, it sounds like you've got nothing to lose in going there and trying a Firefly out.

    Whilst I had similar concerns regarding adding length, manouverability etc, I have to say that it is of zero concern to us now that we understand how well it works, and how manouverable it is. Add to that the advantages of powering over grass, dirt and most inclines then you start to understand how well it works for us. I was a great fan of the FreeWheel (and still am in terms of its concept), the best description I can give you of the Firefly is a "Powered FreeWheel".

    I attached a camera to the Firefly in our house, which will give you some idea of it's manouverability inside:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IKC6co9bLvs
    (It does help that there are lots of "round trips" possible in our house, so there is no need for my son to back up out of too many corners!)

    Biggest disadvantage of the Firefly would be it's weight. It is cumbersome when not attached to the chair, which is where the SmartDrive has a significant advantage (albeit at a significant cost!).
    Gordon, father of son who became t6 paraplegic at the age of 4 in 2007 as a result of surgery to remove a spinal tumour.

  10. #10
    My$.02 (and I don't work for smartdrive or even sell them)

    I have been in this industry for many years.... EVERY, and I mean EVERY "active self propeller" has serious physical issues from self propelling for 15+ years.

    When a Doctor looks you in the eyes and says "you need shoulder surgery, or stop pushing....." How much money would you spend to go back 15 years and get a power assist? How much money is it worth to "not have shoulder surgery".

    Every great invention is widely rejected at launch....
    The match,
    the light bulb,
    the automobile,
    disc brakes,
    the computer,
    all these were labelled "to complex and to expensive.... they will NEVER catch on"

    In 10-20 years from now, we will all say "I wished I started using a power-assist sooner and convinced all my wheeling friends to start sooner."

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