Berlin Boombox Preview
- Itty bitty amp
- Aluminum volume knob
- I give up
I think the regular readers of Audioholics know that I'm mostly pretty fair when I write these preview articles. I try to present the good with the bad in a way that informs rather than incites. I don't go out of my way to anger manufacturers (though there are a couple that think I have it out for them to which I respond - MAKE BETTER PRODUCTS) and I try to keep my personal opinion out of it. Occasionally, I poke a little fun. If the marketing is over the top I might point it out. If there are some missing features, I might opine about who was going to get fired. Stuff like that. Nothing malicious. Heck, sometimes I even get poetic if you come up with the right name for your subwoofers.
But, this time, I can hold my tongue no longer.
Sometimes Kickstarter uncovers some truly original products. Products that are too niche to be considered by major producers but cool enough that there are enthusiasts who would gladly put out money for them. This is not one of those times.
The Berlin Boombox had 338 backers on Kickstarter and raised just over $20k. If that doesn't seem like a lot for a Boombox, you've only scratched the tip of the head scratching iceberg. Take a look at this picture:
Maybe you glanced at it. Maybe you didn't look closely. But this will clear it up for you:
That's right. Cardboard. Oh, sorry, according to the press release it's "durable" cardboard. Ah, well, that clears it up. The Berlin (not sure why the city is being associated with this product but I'd be insulted if I were a German) Boombox is a DIY Boombox in the vein of Ikea. There are two speakers, a few wires, an aluminum control knob (because, of course a cardboard boombox needs an aluminum knob), and a few other odds and ends. You put it together like those punch-out masks they give to kids around Halloween and at birthday parties. Tab A into Slot A sort of thing. There is an amp and you connect to your portable device via the 3.5mm headphone jack. That means no charging.
Lets put aside the whole "building a boombox out of cardboard is frickin' stupid" thing. Let's just look at features. The Berlin Boombox will run you $80.
I'm sorry, did you just spit your coffee all over your monitor? Sorry, I should have warmed you up to that.
Let's start again. The Berlin Boombox will run you $80. In that price category on Amazon you have literally hundreds of options. I sorted the $50-$100 category and stopped counting at 200. You know what just about all those have that the Berlin Boombox doesn't? A real dock. They charge. They have fuller sized drivers in dedicated enclosures that are ported to extend the bass. They have clocks and FM tuners and multiple inputs. They can control your iPod/iPhone fully (track, play/pause, etc.). They have CD players, cassette decks, and alarms. None of them have all of that but most have at least some.
What does the Berlin Boombox have? Power on and off and volume control. Oh, and cardboard. That's what. Though, we're assured it is "eye catching".
Consider my eyes caught
I apologize to all of you that think this is a really cool product (all 338 of you). You're wrong. So very wrong. While no electronic device will fare well in rain, at least it won't melt. I don't have to worry about my normal boombox unraveling. I don't have to worry if some dog pees uphill of my boombox, it'll smell like that forever. At least until the bottom rots out. In a fight I can use my boombox as a weapon. Unless you think "decent possibility of a paper cut" is a weapon, you better start running boy. Cause I'm coming for you with my Steez. There is a case to be made that any portable device like a boombox should be usable in a zombie apocalypse. It doesn't have to hold out forever but you should be able to smash in the head of a zombie or two before it shatters. The Berlin Boombox fails this most basic test miserably.
I can see no practical application for the Berlin Boombox. I can see no situation where it would be used as an actual boombox. As a piece of "art"? As a conversation piece? Sure. But as a boombox - as a functional piece of hardware? Never. And, frankly, for $80, I don't think "Why do you have a cardboard Boombox in your living room" is a conversation worth having.
We have three "ratings" on our previews - Gotta Have It, Pretty Cool, and Mildly Interesting. The Audioholics website forces me to rate the Berlin Boombox. So when you read "Mildly Interesting" know I mean "Sofa King We Todd Did".
For more information (seriously, it's just cardboard), please visit www.bitemyapple.co.
Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.