The Dot is an alluring Bluetooth earbud with zero strings attached, and while it doesn't necessarily need your support (the Kickstarter project surpassed its modest fundraising goal in a matter of hours today) we thought you should know about it anyway because, for all the failures and delays we've seen on devices like this before, we think the Dot is the most promising we've seen yet.
The Dot is a simple Bluetooth in-ear headphone -- or earbud -- that's available in a mono or stereo version. The single-bud mono version would make a good replacement for that Bluetooth bar of a headset you've been meaning to replace -- it's super comfortable, and folks can hardly detect you're wearing it, so you get to add the creepy "guy talking to himself" factor, to boot. A stereo version is also available for those who would like to use the Dot for music listening as well as taking calls.
Central to the Dot's design is a charging device that looks like a metallic tube of Chapstick. The tube holds a rechargeable battery that is said to charge a single Dot up to 6 times, in as little as 30 minutes per charge. The Dot is rated to last for 1.5 hours of talk time, or about 1 hour of music time, depending on the volume. With those kinds of times, the Dot is not a good solution for long-term commuters or travelers, but could work great through the workday or for short trips.
We've had about a week to use the Dot, and we've found it stays comfortable and secure in the ear for hours at a time. One dot weighs a measly 3.5 grams (that's 1.5 grams less than the closest competition). With an 80-hour standby time, one could wear it all day without having to remove it, unless of course it were to run out of juice on a phone call. The call quality is decent, though not on par with other modern Bluetooth headsets and headphones we've tested recently, offering a very slightly raspy vocal sound. On the other hand, music sounded decent with just one bud, and we're sure it would sound even better with two.
One look at the Dot, and you might get it confused with the wildly successful Earin Kickstarter campaign that ran this time last year. Earin got 8,359 backers to pledge 972,594(roughly $1.5 million) for its stereo-only Bluetooth in-ear headphones. One year later, we've yet to see an Earin ship, and you can't pre-order them anymore as Earin's site lists them as "sold out." The Earin costs about $200.
The Dot, on the other hand, has a much more modest fundraising goal of $30,000, which it has already doubled. And with 29 days left to go, it will no doubt go even further. That's great, because the more the Dot's creators raise, the more Dots they'll be able to produce, and maybe that means we'll see the Dot in less than a years' time.
Perhaps the Dot's most appealing feature is its reasonable price. Early birds will get a mono Dot for $59, after which the price goes up to $69. The stereo dot goes for $79 on early bird special, and goes up to $89 once those are sold out. When the Kickstarter campaign is over, its retail price is expected to be about $150.
The Dot may not be the embodiment of the latest in wireless technology, but it is the most realistic application we've seen yet -- partly because we've held one in our hands and know it works, and it works reasonably well. With an equally reasonable price, it's not hard to get behind the Dot's campaign for realization.