My concern with Kickstarter

Shawn Blanc has posted a review of The Hidden Radio, A Bluetooth speaker he backed on Kickstarter about  a year ago. It’s brutal.

“The device is little more than a giant volume knob with a speaker inside, and yet, ironically, it’s the most difficult-to-use volume knob in my home.”


“Perhaps the most maddening shortcoming of all is the Hidden Radio’s irrational desire to power off.

This can happen when you least expect it, and usually when you least desire it. My Hidden Radio powers itself down after about 60 seconds of inactivity. And so, if I pause the music on my iPad in order to take a phone call or have a conversation, I have to turn the Hidden Radio off and back on before resuming music playback.

What’s worse, on Saturday evening the Hidden Radio refused to play music for longer than 15 minutes at a time.”


“At best it sounds a bit like a cheap boombox. At worst it sounds like a muffled, cheap boombox.”

Shawn’s buying advice:

“If you’re going to spend $150 or $190 on a Bluetooth speaker, get the Jawbone Jambox.”

This is why I hesitate to back gadgets on Kickstarter. To do so is an act of pure faith. You’re committing to buy before a single review has been written, or before even one real-world customer has had a chance to try said gadget. I’m sure that many fantastic items get backed every day. But Shawn’s experience only solidifies my position on Kickstarter: buy after the product ships.

Incidentally, I’ve been using a Tivoli iPAL for many years. No Bluetooth and only a single speaker, but it’s a workhorse and I love it.

Review: Off the Hook Bluetooth Handset

Nothing has ever hindered teenage dating like the corded telephones of the 1980’s.

The telephone would ring in our Scranton, Pennsylvania kitchen and my blood would freeze. If anyone answered it before me and heard that cute 10th-grader on the other end, the one whose unmistakably female voice asked for me by name, a shroud of humiliation would descend upon me as pronounced and obvious as Turin’s most famous export. Speaking in private was an experiment in the tensile strength of copper wire, as I stretched that cord to its limit.

The older I got, the longer the cords became.

Most contemporary phones scarcely resemble those clunky, plastic handsets. My memories remain, however, and that’s why I had a visceral reaction to the Off The Hook Bluetooth Handset from Brookstone. This handset looks just like those old wall-mounted phones and is compatible with just about any Bluetooth-enambled phone (v1.0, 1.1, 1.2). We picked one up last week and, seven days in, I’m glad we did. It looks good, works as advertised and offers respectable battery life. Here’s my look at the Off The Hook Bluetooth Handset (OTH).

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