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For a couple of years I wrote a series of "Fund this" posts for CNET, all of them touting interesting-sounding crowd-funded projects introduced on the likes of Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Then I stopped, because it seemed like a lot of folks ended up unhappy, either with interminable delivery delays or products that didn't live up to their claims.
The poster child for this kind of thing is the Coolest Cooler, at one time the single most successful Kickstarter campaign with over $13 million raised. The cooler-on-steroids certainly sounded cool, what with its built-in blender, Bluetooth speaker, phone charger, dinnerware, LED lighting and so on. But to say backers were left unhappy is an understatement.
Flash-forward to today: The Coolest Cooler is a shipping product with a jaw-dropping list price of $399.99. But for a limited time, and while supplies last, Amazon has the Coolest Cooler in your choice of three colors for $204.95 shipped -- the lowest price to date (that I've seen; one online source reported it dipped to $199 a couple weeks ago).
So let's dispense with all the history and focus on the product itself. Although I'm not really a beach guy or regular tailgater, I certainly like the concept of the Coolest, which takes a common item and retrofits it with some high-tech conveniences. (Plenty of low-tech ones, too.)
Could you just as easily toss a Bluetooth speaker, mobile charger and the like into your beach bag? Of course. With the possible exception of the built-in blender, there's nothing here that can't be replicated easily and inexpensively.
But there's something to be said for having all these items under one plastic roof, so to speak. However, I would suggest avoiding the Amazon reviews, many of which come from justifiably angry Kickstarter backers, and reading CNET's more objective review instead. Verdict: It's pretty great, but hard to swallow at the original $485(!) price.
So here's my question: Would you jump at this for $205? If not, what would you pay? Or do you feel sufficient moral indignation that you would never support a company that treated its backers that way? I'm eager to hear your thoughts.
Bonus deal: Calling all Mac users! If you're willing to leverage a little social media, you can get eight Mac apps for free. All you have to do is share the giveaway on Facebook and Twitter and, presto, it's yours. The bundle, which has a combined value of $125, includes productivity booster UnDistracted, handy music utility Export for iTunes and smart screenshot tool Screenie.