Before we get started, here’s a few things you should know about my LED Hula Hoop.
- The Helix by Proton Labs is a “Smart” hoop.
- I have owned my Helix hoop for over a year.
- I paid for my Helix, and have never been asked to write this review.
- I will not be discussing other LED Hula Hoops in this review, just MY experience with the Helix by Proton Labs.
Alright! Let’s talk Helix!
I bought my Helix in 2012 from Proton Labs. It is a 31″ (ID) with Polypro tubing. After performing with it for over a year, this is what I think about the hoop…
WEIGHT of the Helix
At the time of release, the Helix by Proton Labs was considered to be among the lightest LED hula hoops on the market. Since then though, many new LED hula hoops have hit the market and the Helix is no where near the lightest hoop out there. It would help if they offered their hoop in 5/8th polypropylene tubing, allowing the Helix to compete with the Evoke options, tubing-wise.
BATTERY Life of the Helix
Awesome. Seriously awesome. I can make it through a whole festival weekend on one charge typically! You will never have to worry about the hoop dying if you enter your evening festivities
with a full charge. I also haven’t noticed any significant depreciation of the battery over time. Meaning, I don’t notice it losing a charge due to the age of the battery. At two years old, this hoop is still rocking! Charging is easy and sustainable with a AC/DC-to-hoop charging cable. (No removable batteries…yay!)
LED PATTERNS & COLORS
Just the best ever. I have yet to see a hoop dominate the color vibrancy and pattern clarity of the Helix. There are 256 presets already loaded on the hoop when it arrives. You could literally perform with a different LED pattern every time you hoop, without having to customize a thing. Even when the battery gets low, this hoop is still so bright. The battery doesn’t seem to suffer from it either. The colors are bright , the strobes are flashy, the chasers are crisp, and the Helix gets a A+ from me in the patterns and colors department.
COLLAPSIBLITY for Travel and Storage
I expect any LED hula hoop on the market will offer collapsibility as a feature. This allows for charging, shipping, and maintenance. The Helix is no exception. It offers a standard push button that releases the hoop, allowing it to coil down to roughly half its size. I prefer not to travel with it this way though, as I believe it can lead to warping if done excessively.
BUTTONS and Accessibility
Not terrible. But not my favorite feature either. The Helix is controlled by 3 flush buttons, and they are color coded to distinguish the power from the modes. The thing I LIKE about the Helix buttons is that they are flush with the tube. Therefore, there is little chance that the buttons will be damaged by my body or my surroundings during its use. Other companies, such as Astral Hoops, have used a “joystick” button in their designs which I feel has a higher chance of damage upon “unfriendly impact”. (Reviews have confirmed this.) What I don’t like about the buttons is that there is no lock-out mode, meaning the buttons are always operational. If you accidentally push them while hooping, you may either change the pattern of your hoop or turn it off all together. To avoid this, Proton Labs recommends covering the buttons with a bit of tape when performing with the Helix. (Meh…it’s an okay solution.) The tape helps, but I can still push the buttons through the tape when I happen to grab the hoop in that *particular* spot by chance. Doesn’t happen often, but it can happen. I would have preferred they create a full lock-out feature to disable to buttons during performance.
CUSTOMIZATION/PROGRAMABILITY of the Helix
The Helix by Proton Labs takes the cake when it come to customization and programmability! You can plug it in to your computer via a USB cable and program the hula hoop yourself! There are hundreds of preset patterns that you can edit and tweak. You can change brightness, chaser speed, colors, patterns, number of chasers, etc. I have owned this hoop for years, and I still haven’t explored all of the preset patterns. This customization feature also allows you to download later-released program packs, periodically released by Proton Labs and its community.
SOFTWARE Available for Customization
If you own a PC, you’re in luck! As far as I know, the program software that allows you to customize the hoop only works on Windows. They originally stated that a Mac version would be released at a later date, but I have yet to notice its presence on the Proton Labs website. It’s a bummer. Hopefully you have access to a PC for customization purposes. The software is simple to use and after a bit of experimenting, you will figure out the preset designer in no time. I do wish there was a “favorites” set to allow easy access to your preferred patterns.
At the time of release, the Helix was $350-$400, but you can find it on sale from Proton Labs for only $289 until 2015! Once the sale ends, I expect the price to be in the $300’s once again. For one of the most customizable Smart Hoops on the market, I have always felt that it competes well in the price department, especially considering you can buy $500 LED Hula Hoops these days. It is worth mentioning though that when purchasing a Helix, shipping is added separate, and therefore will add to your final price. (At the time my Helix shipped, shipping was $30.) Still, with shipping charges included, the Helix is a very competitively priced Smart Hoop.
Do you own a Helix by Proton Labs? What do you think of it? Comment below…
Share this awesome resource with your friends!