I received the Jack by Podo labs – My opinion

This is not a review. But my story and opinion about the Jack. The Jack is a device that can turn every wired headphone in a Bluetooth headphone. You just plug the jack plug of your wired headphone in the Jack. (Maybe that’s why it is 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 that 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 it’s transmitting the sound to another Bluetooth headphone. Handy when you have a long flight but you don’t want to be bothered by cables.

Jack by Podo Labs connected to a headphone
Jack by Podo Labs connected to a headphone

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 it’s 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 about the warranty. Podo told me that providing that was not a problem. I only need to ship 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 their 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 were 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 in 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 customers on regular basis and tell them the truth that you will get goodwill. But that’s 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 dollars I invested are lost, but I gained 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 there was my mailman in front of the house. With a small envelope. What could that be? A small envelope with an 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.

Jack by Podo labs - I received mail
Jack by Podo labs – I received mail

What did I receive? A black Jack, a 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.

Jack by Podo labs - unpacking
Jack by Podo labs – unpacking

On the left side of the Jack, you have a stereo 3,5-inch jack plug and a micro USB charging port. When I plug the Jack into 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.

Jack by Podo labs - left side
Jack by Podo labs – left side

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.

Jack by Podo labs - right side
Jack by Podo labs – right side

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. It’s 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.

Jack by Podo labs - teardown
Jack by Podo labs – teardown

Seeing the circuit board give me a positive feeling. I don’t know if it’s of good quality. But it looks easy to repair or to modify. You can see there are a lot of test pins on the circuit board. But for now it’s a little happy board.

Jack by Podo labs – Circuit 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 antenna is a separated part. I wonder why? It’s cheaper to etch the antenna on the circuit board. But Podo Labs decided that the antenna is a separated piece that’s connected to the circuit board 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 jack plug. 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.

Jack by Podo labs - Headphone connection and bluetooth antenna
Jack by Podo labs – Headphone connection and bluetooth antenna

The battery is a 300mAh Li-Po battery. I think enough for a long day of listening to podcasts, watching Youtube and listening to music. The battery is easy to get on the market and has a protection circuit.

Jack by Podo labs - 300mAH battery
Jack by Podo labs – 300mAH battery

When I was putting the Jack back together I didn’t feel comfortable. There is a change that the metal clip can touch the circuit board 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.

Jack by Podo labs - Watch out for shorting the circuit
Jack by Podo labs – Watch out for shorting the circuit

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 gives me the opportunity to design my own enclosure for the Jack. maybe I will dive into that later.

Jack by Podo labs - Not happy with this quality
Jack by Podo labs – Not happy with this quality

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?

Jack by Podo labs - They forgot to tape the battery
Jack by Podo labs – They forgot 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 an 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 sound? I have to be honest. Better than I expected. It sounds good. Podo Labs didn’t step into 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 me the freedom to choose which headphone I want to use.

One of the reasons that the Podo was delayed by more than a year is its clip. The clip feels badass. It’s strong and feels like a part of something that’s 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.

In 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. That’s acceptable. I can reach all the 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 advertisement platform to promote a product. A lot of products don’t 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 interest me. But now I’m withstanding 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 a legal warranty on the product. I don’t need to wait months before the product is realized and I’m protected by my credit card company if the products aren’t delivered.


Add Yours →

In the FAQ of Jack they said:

“Can I take calls through my headphone’s mic while using Jack?
Absolutely! And if your phone doesn’t have a microphone built-in, you can snag the great headphone model that we are offering as an add-on accessory :)”

But according to your blogpost the jack-plug inside the Jack doesn’t have microphone support? That’s a bit weird.

You are right. I just took a look to the circuitboard. A closer inspection with a flashlight showed a fourth connection in the Jackplug hole. I paired the Jack with my iPhone and connect a headphone with a microphone. I can record my voice. But the sound is awful. I try to post an audio file this evening

That’s a limitation of Bluetooth, for some reason they don’t want you to record audio using bluetooth, no idea why though.

Don’t ever buy this. Backed this project via Indiegogo in March 2017. Never received the 4 jacks. Only 3 updates in over 1,5 years and no reply whatsoever to my 5 e-mails with update requests. Podo Labs is simply one big scam and Indiegogo says; “Not our problem”. Have heard and read hundreds of claims, but nobody is doing anything about it. So if you need cash, start a fake project on Indiegogo and just never reply to any e-mail.

Well Carla, I had lost hope too, but then today (finally and unexpected) a package arrived with 2 jacks in it, just like I ordered them. One is faulty though and draws more than 4A which melted the USB cable. So, if you do receive it, keep an eye on it when it charges 🙂

Hi Bart,

When did you back? I did in March 2017, it is now late November 2018. I backed a family pack of 4 Jacks. After 1 year and 8 months I don”t believe I will ever receive the Jacks. But I am not done with this. The fact they can keep on doing this is just simply fraud. And soneone needs to stop Podo Labs

I am one more disappointed with this and other companies, they don’t reply to emails and they don’t provide any kinds of updates. Not only I lost my confidence in Podo Labs but in Indiegogo as well for allowing this to happen with this and other products. I already stop backing any more products, I did realized that it is a gambling situation were I can save a few dollars or lose a nice amount of cash and so far, the loses are bigger than the savings, soooooo, I’m out.

Same for me. The last years I don’t back any products anymore on those sites. There are companies behinds the crowdfunding products that will sell the product regularly. So why take the risk with a crowdfunding if you can buy the product later when it’s for real and I’m backed with my credit card insurance.

They say the mic works but I’ve been completely unable to get it to work on two jacks received months apart. I first noticed while walking the dog and listening to music, I got a phone call and was unable to speak to them via Jack(My headphones work perfectly fine with the Pixel 2 USB-C adapter)

I’ve also tried to use Jack on PC for gaming/discord with no luck… I figured I just had a defective unit and the lack of a working mic wasn’t a huge deal to me. However, I just received another one from them(I presume by mistake, as I received the one I actually ordered months ago) and after much testing on both Android and Windows, I can’t get microphone input working with either Jack…
At first I thought I was getting input on Android only, but while I thought I was able to get voice playback working on Android, it turns out the memo app was recording through my phone mic and NOT the inline mic on my headphones.

Along with the completely broken mic input, the bluetooth range is only a couple of feet! If I have my phone in my right pocket and Jack clipped to my belt on my left hip, the connection is extremely choppy.

Podo Labs has failed on four products leaving ~30,000 backers with junk or promises.
Even their own FaceBook page has not been updated over a year and a half. Podo Labs is an example of why backers are not happy with Kickstarter type companies that do not support the backers and the rights of the consumer.

AVOID Podo Labs

I backed this project in Feb 22, 2017. I live in the USA. Just received it today. I got my tracking number on Jan 15th of this year. By the end of February I stopped checking it because there was no sign of an activity. Then I forgot about it. I’m going to test it this evening with my turntable and Bluedio TM Bluetooth headset. The main reason I backed this project was to use my Bluetooth headset with my Xbox. Then I backed a similar project for a Bluetooth receiver called AirJack through Indiegogo. Piece of garbage. If I wasn’t a violinist and had hands like my father, then I would need a screwdriver to push the microscopic sized buttons on that tiny little thing. I bought that because I wanted a reliable receiver to turn my motorbike headset into Bluetooth. But I found a better headset anyway so the AirJack sits in a drawer. Fingers crossed that Podo’s Jack doesn’t suffer the same fate

There is no reasonable expectation that you will not receive a product when backing, and legal precedent backs that up.
Maybe don’t call people who are justifiably pissed about getting scammed “babies”? Makes sound like a bit of a cunt.

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