The hottest thing in tech geekdom is the awesome Kickstarter, a crowd-funding website that helps raise money for technology and other ventures. Everyone wants to support a neat idea and get the first gadget off the factory assembly line.
Such as the Ouya, an Android-powered game console that will leverage Google’s open-standard mobile operating system to play on your big-screen TV. Competition for such dinosaurs as Microsoft’s Xbox, Sony’s PlayStation and Nintendo’s Wii? Ooooo, yeah, I want one. Gimme. But it’s not available until March of 2013, although you can preorder now.
Okay, how about the Pebble Watch? Designed by Canadian Eric Migicovsky, this wearable peripheral accesses the programs and calling features of your smartphone, from your wrist. The biggest Kickstarter ever. Millions in funding, 85,000 to be delivered in the first shipment. Wow. Want. Gimme. Uh, it’s been delayed from its initial September launch several times, and it looks like it’s going to miss the holiday period altogether. Preorder now.
Look here, friends, the thing is, Kickstarter is not a store. To hammer this point home, the company wrote a blog post on its website titled “Kickstarter is not a store.” It starts: “It’s hard to know how many people feel like they’re shopping at a store when they’re backing projects on Kickstarter, but we want to make sure that it’s no one.”
Its point is, it’s a crowd-funding site, and it’s not even a guaranteed investment. It’s a pledge: You pay your money, you take your ride. The stuff is cool, but it might never get made, or sent in time for your gift-giving season.
But sometimes, even Kickstarter projects finally launch, finally ship, and sometimes you can even buy stuff invented through Kickstarter. Some of it even ships to Canada.
So, where’s the best place to shop for those Kickstarters? Try outgrow.me. This marketplace website collects the successfully launched gear in an attractive and easy-to-navigate online store. But buyer beware, they also showcase some of those products that aren’t quite out of the launch bay (such as the examples above, or the Oculus Rift 3D headset).
Here are our picks for the stuff with the most geek cred you can order now, and also unwrap on Christmas morning:
Turtle Shell Outdoor Speakers ($149.95; outgrow.me/product/turtle-shell)
With a claim to be weather resistant, this odd-shaped Bluetooth-enabled wireless speaker lets you pound tunes wherever you go.
Cloud FTP ($99.95; outgrow.me/product/cloudftp)
A simple idea, just plug a USB key or hard drive into this hub, and then up to three devices can access files on it via WiFi. It can also back up to cloud services such as iCloud or Dropbox. Remote storage, locally.
Jot ($19.99 to $99; outgrow.me/product/jot)
Sometimes your fingers are just too fat: This stylus lets you operate your touch-screen tablet and, most helpfully, it lets you be more precise with drawing or image-editing apps. (There are a lot of stylus models out there; hint Apple.)
The Power Pot ($149; outgrow.me/product/the-powerpot)
Shove it on a heat source, and it converts thermal energy into power you can charge your devices with via USB adapters. A good mix of impractical practicality, but sometimes it pays to plan ahead: You never know when you’ll have no power.
spnKiX ($699; outgrow.me/product/spnkix-wearable-mobility)
By far the craziest thing funded and delivered on Kickstarter, the spnKiX electric motorized roller skates (controlled with a wireless hand-held accelerator) seems like a terrible idea, but if you’re looking for wild gear this is it.