The Misery Of Waiting For Kickstarter Gear

Kickstarter can be truly amazing sometimes, especially when you get a product that just simply wouldn't be available elsewhere. But then there's times when you pay for that product. And wait. And wait. And wait some more.

Because I type for a living, and make a habit of typing as efficiently as my fingers will go, I like to keep a track of what keyboards are on the market. And when Mikey wrote up his take on the weirdly-angled X-Bows ergonomic keyboard, I got very excited.

X-Bows Ergonomic Keyboard Review: Strange Shape, Great Typing

Last month I introduced readers to the X-Bows, a weird-looking mechanical keyboard featuring a unique cross-radial layout designed to keep the wrists straight and typing strain to a minimum. Now that I've gotten my hands on it, weird feels pretty good.

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There's a lot about it that made sense. My hands are permanently angled in whenever I use a keyboard. Why shouldn't a keyboard be designed around that? And it wasn't split, like those god awful monstrosities that everyone's seen in an office at least once.

So I bit the bullet, and backed the project on Kickstarter. Press in the United States got their keyboards around September last year, but I was happy to get something around Christmas. A gift to myself, if you will.

But then December 1 came.

This is not the update anyone wants to see just before Christmas. I'd just freshly broken my wrist too, and wasn't due in surgery for another couple of days.

Needless to say, I wasn't impressed. But hey: I couldn't really type properly at the time! And I wasn't too stressed that I'd lost my money, as a second manufacturing mould was already in the hands of a second factory.

My Kickstarter bundle of joy was still being made. It wouldn't arrive in time for Christmas. But I had a birthday in February. So now I get an extra birthday present! That's not so bad.

Christmas comes and goes. My wrist starts to mend, and the New Year brings merry tidings.

Until January 8.

Really?

According to the next fresh dose of disappointment, this new factory had someone managed to misprint the PCB. The end result: the USB-C connector was unstable, and prone to damage. And not even over long-term use, but in the short term, because the holes for securing the connector weren't finished properly.

And just for good measure, the magnetic connector pins were protruding from the board. Obviously, that's no good either.

So my precious gift got delayed some more. April/May, they said: all of the factories were in China, and understandably, not a lot gets made during Chinese New Year.

Why don't you love me, Kickstarter

The whole experience has been a sobering reminder of the inherent risk of Kickstarter. But it's partially been a little worse because the wait has gone on for so long. If the developer or creator had ghosted the project, at least I'd be in the right mental state where I've accepted a loss.

But since September, I've been quietly, then keenly awaiting my fatigue-saving keyboard. And with each delay, there's always been a reasonable, sensible nugget of hope. These things can happen to anyone. Development gets delayed for all sorts of nightmarish reasons. Manufacturing is no different.

So I continued to wait. February comes. Last chance to alter your order, an update warns, as manufacturing is about to begin. Make sure you've updated your address, another update says. Each update notes what keyboard switches the writer used.

It's almost taunting me, I thought at one point.

It wasn't until just over a week ago that shipping had finally begun. Of course, it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows:

Sweet Jesus.

I'm sure Dr. Wang, one of the creators of the keyboard, is a methodical and lovely person. But at this point I'm basically paranoid.

Dr. Wang couldn't be testing just 10 or 20 keyboards. They said each individual keyboard. And there's no way he's as spry as he used to be.

What if the doctor - not unreasonably so - starts hitting up a whisky or two late one evening, searching for that second wind to get him through that fresh hell of keyboards? How methodical could you be testing hundreds of keyboards, especially knowing that they have to be boxed back up? That's a pain of a job.

I'm sure my fancy, RGB-lit ergonomic keyboarda will actually be fine. It's just been so long that I'm in that state of anticipation, whilst simultaneously expecting the worst. That's the kicker with hope: there's always a light at the end of the tunnel.

Now I just have to hope the last piece of the puzzle doesn't cause me any trouble. After all, what could go wrong with Australia Post?


Comments

    The problem with Kickstarter is, you can see the development process, when often, development can take years. Star Citizen is the obvious example. It is not being delayed. It is taking as long as a typical game of that scale would.

      People get to a stage where they defend it at all costs, because it becomes a proxy debate about personal investment and judgement more than the project itself. And different developers have different philosophies about openness, too.

    I was an original LIFX backer... a beautiful promise and a well-made campaign, but as with your experience constant errors and delays meant the shine was well-dulled by the 12 month delay mark.

    The fun kick in the face was finding out they'd fulfilled commercial orders before fulfilling their backer orders. I could literally walk to Harvey Norman and buy something I'd pre-ordered 18-24 months ago in order to bring the product to life.

    I still love my LIFX bulbs, but the company is naught to me after that.

    ...at least I didn't back for the downlight versions. They were still waiting for initial tooling tests when I got my bulbs.

    Last edited 22/05/18 3:24 pm

    I got screwed over by Znaps which in hindsight was a stupid investment to a non problem. Gotten a few board/card games which are pretty safe. The Veronica Mars movie was also a good one. Only pending on is Sky Sharks which I think is coming....

      Ahaha, I forgot about those fuckers. Still wouldn't mind getting one, the reach over to my bedside table to plug in at night is still awkward and being able to do it one-handed would be great. Oh well.

      Best one would be STEM though, they keep trickling out an update once every couple of months talking about tiny changes in the plastics. The joke that just keeps giving.

      On the flipside, backing the Rift paid for itself and then some.

    With Kickstarter, there's always the risk that development or manufacturing doesn't go to plan, the result being that you get nothing, or the product is considerably delayed. This is the reality of development. Something that the consumer normally isn't exposed to, but now, with the magic of crowdfunding, they get to experience the wild ride of developing a product.

    It's a good thought to keep in mind when you want to pledge to a project. Don't go in with the expectation that you'll always get something at the end, and certainly don't expect the estimated date to be correct. When you're talking about creating something never done before, the best you can hope for is an educated guess.

    For me Kickstarter has been a mixed bag; on the great side of the spectrum I have have Blackwake, Bears vs Babies, Grimslingers and Kingdom Death. Middle of the road outcomes include Call of Cthulhu metal dice, Battletech and the Adventure Hoodie.

    Finally you have the picks which are Monster Dice, Mighty Dice and Scion second ed.

    I am still waitiong on a few ancient ones that I have come to the conclusion are vaporware.

    The Ossic X (kickstarter for 3D audio headphones that do a lot of fancy things) recently failed after the devs dropped all communication for 2 months before declaring that they'd run out of money. They asked for 800K, got 2 million, then did a bunch of world tours and expo trips that is estimated to have cost more than half the budget of development and RnD. To add insult to injury, they cited that similar products being developed had upwards of 10 million where as they only had 2. Kickstarter is only occasionally safe, much like making a choice whether to invest in something, its generally safer if the creator has had success in the past (with crowdfunding).

    The only thing I've ever backed on Kickstarter is the Street Fighter board game. I went in threezies with my brothers so I wont feel too bad if it doesn't work out.

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