This is not a review. But my story and opinion about the Jack. The Jack is a device that can turn every wired headphones in a bluetooth headphone. You just plug the jackplug of your wired headphone in the Jack. (Maybe thats why its called the Jack?) The kickstarter page showed a story that Podo Labs has the experience to make this bluetooth device and bring it to the market quickly. The main reason I backed this project was because you can turn the Jack in a transmitting mode. So I can connect the JACK with a wire to any television, radio or computer and its transmitting the sound to another bluetooth headphone. Handy when you have a long flight but you don’t want to by bothered by cables.
In the winter of 2017 I backed the Jack on Kickstarter. It’s not my first rodeo on Kickstarter. I have backed a lot of projects on kickstarter. Fortunate for me I received all the things I backed. Maybe its luck. Maybe I can feel if a project will be a success. I also backed the PODO camera on Kickstarter. From the same makers as the Jack. But shortly after I received this camera I already broke it because of the poor quality of the plastic used by Podo labs. I asked for warranty. Thats was not a problem. I only need to shipped the camera back to China. The shipping cost was higher than buying a new camera. So I put the Podo camera in a box and never took it out again. I only need a small plastic piece. Maybe one day I can print this part with my 3D printer.
The promise on the Kickstarter page was that the Jack would be shipped in the summer of 2017. Podo labs bragged that they had the experience with previous products. So shipping the Jack on time was easy as pie. The Summer came and went. I saw the autumn. I saw the winter. I welcomed 2018. Sporadic I received an e-mail that Podo Labs has productions problems. In every e-mail they send to there customers was a story about delays but with the promise that the Jack would be shipped soon. When Podo Labs put the Jack on kickstarter they still didn’t fulfill all the backers of their latest project. People were still waiting for their Podo camera.
In October 2017 Podo Labs announced their next project on kickstarter: The Belle Bluetooth speaker. People were still waiting for their Jacks. People where still waiting for their Podo camera. In the comments section on Kickstarter people even start to talk that Podo Labs is paying the debts of the previous projects with the gainings of the latest kickstarter projects. Sounds like a Ponzi scheme. You keep the public interested with delivering products that are paid by others. I don’t know if this story is true. What I know is that when a company is communicating with their costumers on regular basis and tell them the truth that you will get goodwill. But thats what Podo Labs didn’t do. They kept silent. You have to hide something as a company if you keep silent for weeks, or even months.
I already took my losses. I expected to never see my Jack. This will be my first failed kickstarter project. Kickstarter is an investment. So I can’t cry like a baby and ask for a refund. The 25 dollar I invested is lost, but I gained a experience. Why are companies returning to Kickstarter with new projects? Kickstarter is a platform to kickstart a company. Why return?
I was surprised that this week their was my mailman in front of the house. With a small enveloppe. What could that be? A small envelop with a utterly smashed small box in it. I received my Jack. Without any notice Podo Labs send me a Jack. I didn’t receive any tracking code. What a surprise.
What did I received. A black Jack, an USB charging cable and a silicon protection cover. Everything was protected by some bubblewrap plastic. There is no manual in the box. Something I don’t see as a problem. I keep my manuals digital in Evernote. The paper manuals I always throw away. I can’t remember that I order the silicon cover or recall the reason why I received the cover. I can’t find any proof that I paid for it. So thank you Podo.
On the left side of the Jack you have a stereo 3,5 inch jackplug and a microUSB charging port. When I plug the Jack in the USB port of my Macbook there is not USB device visible in the system information. So there goes any change for an easy update of the firmware or use the Jack as an external DAC player.
On the right side there are three buttons and a hole for the RGB led. The led can show in different colors the state of the device. The big button functions as the power button and as the play stop button. The small buttons are for the volume control and the control of the tracks.
My eye was caught immediately by the two screws. I felt a big urge to get my screwdriver set (XIAOMI Mijia Wiha. The best screwdriver set ever) and open this puppy. Here I found the first problem. The enclosure of the Jack is only held together with one screw. The second screw is loose in the plastic. I will show you later why.
Opening the Jack is a feast. Its only two plastic parts. The battery and the circuit board are sandwiched between those two plastic parts. I was afraid that it would be a problem to open the Jack. But as smooth as warm butter the two parts slide from each other.
Seeing the circuitboard give me a positive feeling. I dont know if its of good quality. But it looks easy to repair or to modify. You can see there are a lot of test pins on the circuitboard. But for now its a little happy board.
The connector for the headphone only has three pins. So any headphones with support for a microphone won’t have microphone support with the Jack. You cannot use the Jack for making phone calls. The antenne is a separated part. I wonder why? It’s cheaper to etch the antenne on the circuitboard. But Podo Labs decided that the antenna is a separated piece thats connected to the circuitboard with a cable. I don’t mind this decision. It looks like more quality. But is it reliable?
UPDATE In the comments section MadJo mentioned that the Jack has support for a Microphone. I got my flashlight and took a closer look nearby. Yes. There are four pins in the jackplug. The Jack is supporting headphones with a microphone. I paired the Jack with my iPhone and I could make recordings in the IOS 12 (beta) Voice Memos app. Both clips are lossless. That the sound over the Jack is in a lower quality is I assumed something in the bluetooth protocol. I don’t think its the Jacks fault.
The battery is a 300mAh Lipo battery. I think enough for a long day of listening podcasts, watching Youtube and listening to music. The battery is easy to get on the market and has a protection circuit.
When I was putting the Jack back together I didn’t feel comfortable. There is a change that the metal clip can touch the circuitboard and cause a short-circuit. Maybe the protection circuit on the battery will prevent a big spark. But its something to keep in mind when you are disassembling or assemble the Jack.
What I think is a problem with the Jack are the fragile pillars that are holding the screws. In my Jack one of the two pillars was already cracked. So the screw can’t hold on it properly. I hope that Jack will release the STL files. Then I can print my own enclosure with my 3D printer when the enclosure breaks. The Sandwich construction also give my the opportunity to design my own enclosure for the Jack. maybe I will dive in that later.
Someone was maybe lazy in the Podo Labs factory. On the battery is a strip of tape. Maybe to secure the battery in the enclosure. But the protection foil is still on the tape. Did someone forget to tape the battery?
My first impression is that the Jack looks easy to repair or to be modified for future projects. What I really hope for is that I can use the Jack as part of a vlogging setup. The Jack can be used as a audio transmitter. So if I put a microphone in the Jack. Can I somehow capture this audio stream and record it on a laptop or a phone. Or a second Jack (or an another bluetooth receiver which I can use to connect). This project goes on my list.
How does the Jack sounds? I have to be honest. Better than I expected. It sounds good. Podo Labs didn’t step in the trap to make it too bassy. The market is already flooded with too many devices that are too bassy. The Jack sounds very natural. I’m happy with the sound. The Jack gives my the freedom to choose which headphone I want to use.
One of the reason that the Podo was delayed by more than a year is it’s clip. The clip feels badass. Its strong and feels like a part of something thats used in the Starship Enterprise. I can play for hours with that clip. If other manufacturers are reading this story. If you ever want to put a clip on your product. Look at the Jack. That clip is pure art.
On the comments sections people complain about the range. After one meter the sound already starts to crack. I did also this test. My range is five meters. Thats acceptable. I can reach all corners in this room and I can use the bathroom. Don’t forget. Wireless communication depends on two peers and the band. Maybe they use a shitty phone or live in an area with an overcrowded 2.4Ghz band.
I won’t back quickly a new project on Kickstarter. Lately I have the feeling that kickstarter is not anymore a platform for finding the funding for a product.. But its become an advertisment platform to promote a product. A lot of products dont need any big investment to get realized. For example wallets and bags. After the kickstarter is finished that product is ship right away. The designs and factory lines are already in place. They just need Kickstarter to reach the big public. It’s also really shady why successful companies use Kickstarter over and over again for there new project. For example Pebble. The first time its understandable. They need the funding for a new project. But later they did it again. And the third kickstarter was a total disaster. Pebble was already bankrupt when they started this Kickstarter. Think about it. Why are companies returning to Kickstarter. If a company is healthy they can use the normal retail channels. You as a customer will have more rights.
I have seen a lot of things on Kickstarter that interrest me. But now I’m witstanding the pressure to backed those cool things. I wait till the kickstarter is over and the products are available in the normal retail. I pay a little bit more. But now I get legal warranty on the product. I dont need to wait months before the product is realized and I’m protected by my creditcard company if the products isn’t delivered.