But enough about us: The first Backerjack reader poll

Hey, Backerjack readers! We’ve been covering the best — and some of the less-than-best — in crowdfunded and preorder gadgets since the beginning of last year. Now, we’d like to ask for a bit of feedback to understand you a bit better. We’ve got four quick questions following the break. We’re not asking for a dime, but the only reward tier we’re offering is a better experience, so please help build a better Backerjack by clicking through to the post. Thanks!

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Opal makes easily chewed crushed ice for when you chill out

Ice: the ingredients don’t vary much and neither does the recipe. It can be made into perfect spheres at home. However, those who frequent some of the finer concession sands may encounter  a form of crushed ice that’s easy on the teeth and soaks up the flavor of that which it cools.

That ice, as it turns out, is called “nugget ice” or “pellet ice” and a company called Scotsman claims to have invented it in 1981. Scotsman does make a home nugget ice maker, but it stands nearly three feet tall; most of the company’s focus is on large industrial systems. Enter the Opal, a countertop nugget ice maker that has the look of a modern stainless steel appliance and is almost a tenth of the price of the competition. Opal’s proposition is pretty straightforward. Pour in water and wait. The product makes up to a pound of ice per hour, which is faster than most freezers. its clear, LED-lit receptacle can store up to 3 lbs.

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Helix bracelet touts extractable Bluetooth earbuds

Just because earbuds are easier to travel with than standard headphones doesn’t mean that carrying them is so simple. After all, earbud cords frequently get tangled, especially when they are thrown in the bottom of a pocket or purse. They also have a tendency to get misplaced.

patent-claimedOut to resolve that dual dilemma is Helix, a bracelet that comes with extractable stereo earbuds. The earbuds are easy to extract from the bangle and because their cords are so short, they won’t get tangled like typical earbud cables. The earbuds can then be connected to the user’s smartphone via Bluetooth. Helix will ship in December at $199, although early bird Kickstarter backers can get it at pricing that starts at $99. Its makers set a Kickstarter goal of raising $100,000 by Sept. 18.

The design of Helix is simple and appealing enough so that men and women might not mind wearing it as an everyday bracelet. It also does indeed seem to solve the problem of making it easy to travel with earbuds without the cords getting tangled up. Helix, meanwhile, definitely makes it much harder to misplace earbuds. One problem, however, is that — like most audio products being sold through crowdfunding sites — there is no way to tell from its campaign video alone just how good its sound quality is.

Remix Ultratablet review

Review Score: 4 out of 5

Microsoft’s Surface has has seen a number of twists and turns in its young life, but two constants have been the presence of add-on magnetically attached keyboard covers and the unsurprising presence of Windows (and now, proper Windows in the Surface 3). Indeed, the Surface was always intended to be a showcase for Windows. But what if there was a Surface that didn’t run Windows?

That seems to be much of the idea behind the Remix Ultatablet, an Android tablet that has a strong resemblance to the Surface 2, such as an integrated multi-position kickstand (complete with microSD slot underneath) and a magnetically attaching keyboard cover. It’s missing a few niceties of the Surface 3. These include the ability for the top of the keyboard to magnetically attach to the base of the tablet, providing better stability and a kickstand that has a fluid range of angles. And while the Surface devices have a full-size USB port, the Ultratablet’s is a USB-on-the-Go connector requiring an adapter. On the other hand, Jide Tech includes the keyboard, which is a $129 add-on for the Surface. The tablet’s 11.6″ display lies between the current Surface 3 and Surface 3 Pro.

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Lumenati CS1 transforms iPhone’s form factor into that of a Super 8 camera

A growing number of smartphone enclosures are being introduced via crowdfunding sites that promise to improve the photo capabilities of the phones’ cameras.

patent-claimedThe Lumenati CS1 follows the recent IndieVice and olloclip Studio. But the CS1 offers a unique twist, mimicking the form factor of an old Super 8 camera. Users can opt to filter video taken with the camera like an old Super 8 movie or shoot in HD with the aid of optical quality lenses. The device also lets users add filters after they shoot and change them on the fly.

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Jorno keyboard review

Review Score: 4 out of 5

The Jorno folding keyboard had a colorful history eve before showing up on Kickstarter in late 2012. The most promising folding keyboard since the days of the Stowaway, it had been one of the more impressive startup products at CES, but was then cancelled before being raising over $100,000. Then Jorno missed its expected shipping date by about two years as other folding options came into the market. In light of production problems along the way that required design changes, backers received a different item than the one they signed up for, but most were probably delighted to receive anything at all given the long delay in which many had given up hope.

Unlike other keyboards that fold in half with a single centered hinge, the Jorno has two hinges. The left one falls just to the left of the R, D and C keys while he right one lies just to the right of the P, ; and > keys. The keyboard tuns on automatically when opened and turns off when folded. Between the sturdy hinges and underneath the keyboard is an unsightly bulge that likely houses the battery and contains the microUSB charging connector.

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Recoil Power Maze cuts the cord clutter

Life today comes with strings attached. And those strings are cords that plug into the wall. While some devices are going cordless, laptops, monitors, modems, and phones all need to be plugged into the wall. This leads to an unpleasant tangle of cords below the desk that no one wants to see or deal with.

The Power Maze gets the cords off the floor and organizes them on the top of a desk or table. It’s designed to fit a full-sized power strip and up to fifty feet of cords. Plug into the power strip as normal, then wrap the cords around the “Cord Lock Patches”. These spaces have alternating polyethylene protrusions that hold the cords in place. The Power Maze also has space in the sleek design to house the large blocks that come on many laptop chargers to protect from power surge. The campaign hopes to raise $40,000 by August 17, 2015, and is selling the Power Maze for $40, with expected delivery in October 2015.

The Power Maze is great for fixed objects like desktop PCs, but might not be very practical for anything you might need to charge on the go like a laptop given the amount of wrapping around that has to happen to fit the cords inside the small box.

 

Lap the competition with the TUNE running system

People play the long game when they run, seeking to better themselves over time for races and marathons that may be a year or more out in addition to staying healthy.

Made up of a connected inner sole and a clip-on wearable device, the TUNE running system has a ground-level view of all the nuances of a user’s feet while active. It analyzes ground contact time, heel contact time, footstrike and cadence all in an effort to reduce total contact time.

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