01 April, 2014

2 Types Of Kickstarter Projects

Minimalist Wallets

One of the most common design projects is the minimalist wallet. These wallets typically only carry cards and cash, with each claiming to be the thinnest and lightest. I heard that in the U.S., it's possible to survive with only cards and no cash, which I guess is how these wallets can be so popular. I can't survive without cash, though.

The odd thing is, these wallets are very similar, and very simple - 2 pieces of solid card-shaped material (wood/carbon fiber/steel/aluminium/titanium) and an elastic band. I don't understand how these can be so popular - how are they different from just putting a rubber band around your cards? They're also inconvenient - you have to take out all your cards and cash to search for something. I have a good mind to start my own project selling rubber bands as minimalist wallets.

Key Holders

These seem a bit more useful. I first head of the Keyport, an organiser that holds up to 6 keys and slides them out. You can also substitute tools for the keys, e.g. USB flash drive, torch, bottle opener.
I think this is the best (and best-looking) organiser, but it's also very expensive, and troublesome - $30 for the body, $30 for 6 key blanks, you have to send them photos of your keys for them to send you the right blanks, then you have to go to a locksmith to cut those blanks:

I thought this type of product would be useful, so I looked at the projects on Kickstarter. But they all had their problems.

My first choice was the Keyz, because it's:
  • made of steel, especially the screws
  • got thinner, custom screws
  • got wave washers to keep tension on the keys and prevent loosening
  • size adjusts to accommodate how many keys you have
It's slightly expensive, at $35, but when you read the comments on the Kickstarter page, you'll see it's got lots of problems:
  • poor finish
  • screws breaking! Those custom-made, extra strong screws!
  • feels poor quality, not worth the money
  • USB drive not working (I wasn't going to get one anyway)

Ok so my next choice was the KeySmart (to be honest, Keyz looks a lot like the KeySmart). This was much cheaper - $15 for the normal one, and the titanium one costs only $39! Again, looking at the comments:
  • keys not fitting
  • loosening (a serious problem)
  • major problems with the USB drive
A word about the USB drive - what seems to have happened here was that the makers went with the lowest bidder, who sold them a bunch of deceptive (not defective, the seller intentionally misled them) USB drives that over report their capacity. The drives have maybe 500 MB of storage, but their firmware is hacked to show 16 GB. If you try and copy files over, there won't be any errors, but you won't be able to read them back. This is a serious problem! I've also seen this on drives I got from eBay - a big reason to only buy trusted flash products, if you value your data. I'm writing this because I learned of this free utility: H2testw. Free, small, needs no installation, fills your USB drive (or any drive really) with data and reads it back, testing its true capacity. Very useful! I tested my 4 GB drive I bought from Shenzhen and found out it only has 500 MB of space!

I guess the lesson to learn from this is, although Kickstarter products are new and reviews are rare, always read the comments for honest feedback - especially if you're considering buying the item after the funding period has ended and the item has shipped. A lot of projects that look good on the surface actually turn out quite different, even those with huge fundings (1000%). It looks like the reality is usually not as rosy as the main page paints. Actually, I funded a project that had a reward due in August 2013, and I still haven't got it yet. I'm just glad my PortPilot Pro turned out excellently, relatively speaking.

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