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AmazonWe all know Kickstarter is the place to go to find innovative, outside-the-box products. Unfortunately it’s also a place to find a lot of stuff that either doesn’t turn out the way it was expected to, or doesn’t get released at all.
The problem with some Kickstarter projects is that after they’ve been fully funded and backers have received their products, they disappear.
In an effort to curb that, Amazon Launchpad has chosen to highlight some Kickstarter products that they feel are up to snuff in its new “Made on Kickstarter” section. This list is represents the best of those highlighted products.
The Pebble Steel was my first smartwatch, and it rarely left my wrist for the year between picking it up and buying an Apple Watch. The Pebble Time is one step up from the model that I used; it has a slightly curvier design and a color screen. Functionally, the two are almost identical though, and it’s important to enter the smartwatch world with your eyes wide open.
Unlike your phone, the apps available on the Pebble platform are extremely simple; they’re great if you’re looking for a calorie tracker or workout app. The killer app, however, is receiving notifications on your wrist. If you’re sick and tired of taking your phone out of your pocket every time you think you feel a vibration, picking this watch up might be a good idea.
Pebble Time Smartwatch, $53
I’ve written about the TarDisk before, but it’s certainly worth mentioning again. While the market for half-sized SD cards to increase your MacBook’s storage has been around for a while, TarDisk takes it to the next level.
Through some included software, TarDisk’s card combines your internal hard drive with the SD card to make a single volume. This way, you’ll never have to wonder whether files are on your internal or secondary drive. TarDisk’s instructions are very clear, which is important because this is a permanent upgrade. Removing the TarDisk would be like ripping out a big chunk of your hard drive. But if you’ve been running low on storage on your MacBook, this is the most sophisticated way to solve that problem without opening up your laptop.
TarDisk 128GB Storage Expansion Card for MacBooks, $148
Portal WiFi Router
The world of WiFi routers is rapidly changing. Instead of having a single piece of hardware in your home, many new companies are offering sets of routers that all link together to form a “mesh network.” The Portal can offer you both of those solutions depending on your situation.
On its own, it’s a wireless AC router with four Ethernet ports for hardwired connections that has a range of 3,000 feet. If you live in a smaller place without thick walls, one should be enough. You do have the option to set up a mesh network using another Portal, though, which is a good idea if you live in a larger home or have thicker walls.
Another modern convenience this router supports is setup and maintenance through an app. As someone who has spent hours digging through confusing settings on networking hardware, I cannot tell you how much of an improvement that is.
Portal WiFi Router, $148
Como Solo speaker
More than just a Bluetooth speaker, Como’s Solo is a smart wireless speaker that can be paired with other Como speakers for multi-room audio.
Shaped like a radio, the Solo has six preset buttons that can be used to bring up different inputs or sources, like Spotify Connect. Its screen displays artist and track information and is meant to keep you focused on your music instead of your phone.
A full-sized USB port on the back can be used to connect a flash drive full of music, or an Echo Dot for pairing. If you want a speaker that works well with your phone, but can also work without it, the Solo is a good choice.
Como Audio Solo Wireless Speaker, $299
The first “real” VR system to be released to the public recently, Oculus Rift is the perfect example of a product that owes its life to Kickstarter.
People proved there was an interest, and now hardware that lets you play games in a totally immersive way is available at a consumer-friendly price point. Since it was first released, the Oculus Rift has built up a pretty healthy library of compatible games, and Robo Recall, Luckyʼs Tale, Quill, Medium, Dead and Buried, and Toybox are all included when you buy the hardware.
Speaking of hardware, this bundle includes the Oculus Rift headset and two touch controllers, but you’re still going to need a fairly substantial computer to run games smoothly. I’ve used an Oculus Rift before, and while an extended play session left me a little nauseous (this was pre-released hardware), it was still a wildly interesting experience.
Oculus Rift, $399
This article was originally published on 8/9/2016 and has been updated.