Kickstarter strikes again. Crowdsourced VC is definitely the new thing. We've had the Pebble, the CloudFTP, and more recently, the OUYA (which I backed), among many, many others that have blown their goals away. Today I came across the campaign for the 1Q from Vers, thanks to a recommendation from fellow iSource writer Jay, and I am very glad that he pointed it out. On the heels of my experience checking out the beautiful finishes and craftsmanship of Carved's iPhone skins, I was happy to see what looks to be the same level of skill and design applied to a very different device.
The 1Q is a 3″ 6.5 watt Bluetooth speaker that can play mono as a single device, or can automatically switch to stereo when paired with another using the included 3.5mm Aux cable. The automatic switching is unique, but there are plenty of mobile-friendly Bluetooth speakers of varying quality and prices out there an the market today. However, one look is all it takes to see what really sets the 1Q apart. While most competing products are made of plastic or metal, the 1Q's cabinet is 85% wood, which as any audiophile knows, is an ideal material for a speaker.
The wood shell gives the 1Q a 6mm thick sound chamber, which should provide superior sound production in comparison with most other mobile speakers. It also has several other compelling features, such as a 30' range of use with Bluetooth 2.1, the ability to store Bluetooth pairing for up to 10 devices, 10 hours of life from the rechargeable battery, and the ability to use it with non-Bluetooth devices via the 3.5 mm jack. All this, and it just looks GOOD. Like the Carved iPhone skins I've played with recently (and am still happily using on my iPhone 4S), the 1Q's polished look is another feature that makes it stand out from an ordinary speaker. It comes in your choice of Walnut or Bamboo for $95 (which will increase to $120 retail after the Kickstarter run expires), and a cool looking Limited Edition Red Beech model for $125, which is only available during the Kickstarter campaign.
As goods as the 1Q looks, its beauty isn't just skin deep. One of the critical reasons that Vers chose wood for the shell was to make a mobile accessory that is both sustainable and built to last. They have pledged to replace the wood used to make the 1Q 1000 times through the Arbor Day Foundation. Beyond that, it's easy to see from the picture below that the using wood has drastically cut down on the need for plastic in the device.
So beyond sustainability, the 1Q is also built to last longer, and to be more easily recycleable when it does reach the end of its usable life. Like the Logitech Solar Keyboard Folio that I reviewed a few weeks ago
, it's great to see companies building sustainable and responsible accessories that people actually want
to use. That isn't an easy feat, but over 900 backers have driven the 1Q 10 times past its modest Kickstarter goal, so I would say that Vers is on to something here.
With the absolutely insane success of the OUYA's Kickstarter campaign over the last month, there have been several “sound the alarm” articles, warning potential backers of scams and products that didn't make it market because of goals that were too lofty. You do have to remember that you aren't necessarily guaranteed to get what you pay for on Kickstarter, so backers do have to be wary, and check out companies and concepts thoroughly. Fortunately, Vers has a proven track record, and an existing relationship with manufacturing sources in China, so this isn't some fly-by-night outfit that may not be able to deliver. Vers is definitely a legit company, which is important to know considering the price tag of the 1Q. Everything in the specs and the pictures suggest to me that the 1Q is worth the price being asked, so knowing that they will be able to follow through and execute on what we see in Kickstarter is very important.
With five days left to go in their Kickstarter campaign, Vers has blown the doors off of their goal. They are in the gravy phase at this point. However, if you are interested in what you see and haven't already backed this campaign, you should seriously consider it. The $25 savings for the Bamboo and Walnut speakers, and the ability to grab the Limited Edition Red Beech are reasons enough not to wait. Plus, getting on board now will insure delivery before the Holidays, so if you are looking for a great mobile speaker or two, and prefer some style with gadgets, Vers' 1Q looks like the way to go.