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.