An important update has been added at the bottom of this post.
I got a real surprise this morning; the delivery of my Jorno folding keypboard that I bought on Kickstarter- on September 19, 2012. I love the idea of a good folding keyboard; I want to be able to write stories on my phone when I am on the road. I had one, a Verbatim that folded in half, but was much bigger than my phone at 6.25 inches long by 4 inches wide.
The Jorno promised to be a tiny 3.5 x 3.5 x 1.2 inches ( 88.9 x 88.9 x 30.5 mm), with clever looking 5 way fold. The reviews of the prototype by all the tech journals were glowing, so I put down my $79, promised delivery in April, 2013.
And I waited. Soon the updates were coming from Scott Starrett about production problems, about how the fold was too complicated, how the keys were not good enough. And the complaints started flowing fast and furious from the people who thought they had been scammed, who wanted their money back, getting quite abusive actually. Then the updates became fewer and fewer and I pretty much gave up hope. I even ordered another keyboard that I cover here on MNN, thinking that the Jorno was dead and gone.
In fact, I gave up hope on Kickstarter and crowdsourcing in general, thinking that it is probably not a good idea to invest in products that have not got by the prototype stage and have been dubious about many projects since.
And then I get my Jorno, two years late. I have to give a lot of credit to Scott Starrett and the Jorno team; they kept at it and delivered a product when they could have just walked away. They certainly didn't deliver what I ordered; it is almost as long as my Verbatim keyboard at 5.75 inches (145mm). They promised that it would be "the pocketable, folding, bluetooth keyboard"- but you will need big pockets.
When I opened it up I thought this is way too small, looking much smaller than my Verbatim; I will never be able to use it. However when I measured from caps lock to enter key it was 241 mm, just a bit shorter than the Verbatim's 244 mm. My macbook Pro is 271mm. Forgive the millimeters, it's just easier, the point being that my fingers got used to a keyboard that's shorter than the Mac by just over an inch quickly.
In fact, by the end of writing this post I am probably touch typing as quickly and accurately on the Jorno as I do on the Macbook.
The case of the Jorno folds up to make a stand that holds the phone; this is not as nice as on the Verbatim where the stand pulls out of the keyboard and I don't need to use the case. However the feel of the keyboard is far superior, and build quality feels solid. I really like how the space bar is not split into two pieces. I was always leaving the power on with the Verbatim and draining the batteries; the Jorno is rechargeable and has no switch, turning on when you open it and off when you close it.
Would I have bought this had I known how it was going to end up? No, I already had a keyboard and you can buy it on Amazon for half the price. It's not that much of an improvement. And obviously, two full years past promised delivery is a very long time to wait.
Kickstarter lessonsBut I did learn a few lessons: look at the track record of the people putting the project together and see if they have real manufacturing experience. Don't put up more money than you can comfortably afford to lose. And actually, have faith that people are fundamentally honest and want to deliver what they promised;
UPDATE: A commenter on the Kickstarter site notes that what I got was actually an EC tech keyboard, shown above, available on Amazon for $37, with Jorno stencilled on the back. They sure look similar; in fact they are identical, as you can see from the photo below that I just took. The only difference appears to be the folding case. Perhaps I should not be so impressed.