Back by popular demand is my good friend Rob. You may remember this British fellow from this hilarious blog about Dollar Shave Club. Rob’s writing was so delightful that I keep randomly texting him and demanding that he order different boxes so he can write more reviews for us. (I also keep demanding that he grow his facial hair faster so he can review more razors for us. He is doing his best.) I am a bossy life coach but Rob likes being an honorary Boxy Lady and writing blogs so it all works out.
A few weekends ago, Lauren texted me to tell me about Danklo. “I am very interested in this. In your hungover state, you should subscribe to this.” Then we talked about how I had spent most of the prior evening unknowingly flirting with a girl who turned out to be gay; Lauren was very sympathetic, and quoted the lyrics of Weezer’s “Pink Triangle” to me and also name-dropped Kevin Smith’s 1997 smash hit film “Chasing Amy” and we had a good laugh at how ridiculous I am. She is so helpful and often full of “tough love.” Everyone needs a friend like Lauren. She’s the Ariana to my Schaena, the Batman to my Robin, the George to my Lennie.
I am considering signing power of attorney over to Lauren, given that her advice has always been – at the time of writing – 100% correct and I am borderline incapable of managing my personal affairs without adult supervision. She is not wrong to call herself my life coach. If she’s right about everything, then why wouldn’t I subscribe to some random box at her behest? Especially when I’m drinking a Bloody Mary and patiently waiting for the delicious chicken fried steak and over easy eggs that are surely going to deliver me from the IPA-induced headache that would claim a much weaker man.
Danklo’s site doesn’t give too much away in the grand scheme of things. Its tagline is “You’ll Never Guess What’s Inside” and teases that it’s “the most affordable way to add some excitement to your life!” I’m not sure I agree with the last line, given that a six-pack of IPA that will blow the doors off your inhibitions and assist with poor life decisions costs under $10 (Danklo Prime is $13.99), but if there’s one thing Lauren knows about me it’s that I am always eager to hand over my credit card information to companies whose entire business model is based around shipping you mystery objects. The site photography teases things such as mini flashlights, USB car chargers, batteries, air fresheners, and approximately $60 in cash.
Oh yeah, there’s CASH in the box too. Seems that the BIG allure of Danklo is that perhaps your $13.99 a month will net you a larger return. Anything from $1 to a cool $1000. Given that I’m not someone who gambles with any kind of regularity (and poker is NOT gambling, it’s a game of SKILL, geez mom, I’m over 18, I can do what I want with my money!) the idea of forking over fourteen bucks a month in the hope of winning a thousand isn’t something I would do…ever. At least with the lottery you can figure out the mathematical odds of winning a certain sum of money. I haven’t a clue how the Danklo folks designate who the lucky recipient of a stack of cash will be but, hey, isn’t sending cash through the post considered a risky proposition? This doesn’t stop grandparents at Christmas, when they send you a card with a crisp $5 bill and an exhortation to not spend it all at once, which even your average cutpurse would eschew out of pity. But slapping the Danklo logo on a box is basically screaming “steal this box of my porch, for the promise of random amounts of money herein means you might hit a huge windfall!” assuming that mail thieves are up to date on the latest box fads – and we here at Boxy Ladies are BLEEDING EDGE BOX ENTHUSIASTS – so maybe this is a moot point. I digress.
The cash is a secondary curiosity for me, so the allure for someone lacking in impulse control as much as I am is the prospect of having random gubbins sent to me that may or may not be useful. I could totally use a new flashlight, or something USB-ish. USB = technology = USEFUL. I’m pretty sure the U in USB means “useful.” (I work in tech, I should know this.) I am also not the kind of person who buys *stuff* – the money I earn tends to go towards food, video games and drinks for cute lesbians. So the idea of *stuff* showing up on a monthly schedule really stimulates some part of my brain that thrives on chance and, in some cases, outright chaos. Shipping was fast – I seemed to have gotten in just in time for the December box. I signed up on a Saturday, and the box that promised me random amounts of money and random stuff showed up on Wednesday night.
Behold! The spoils that promised to make my life more interesting, or at least cause less grief than a lethal sixer of microbrews:
- Mini USB charger
- USB wall plug
- A somewhat sad looking $1 bill
- Formenti Corporation (http://www.formentico.com/) S10 Bluetooth portable speaker
- Broken candy cane
- Instructional booklet
My first thought when opening this box was “great, another UsefulSB cable!” I’m not much of a pack rat, but the tech worker part of my brain compels me to hoard cables as if they will be some kind of currency in a post-apocalyptic world. It physically pains me to throw them out, in case they turn out to be Useful In The Future. It’s MINI USB as well, which is pretty much useless unless your phone was made before 2003. Obviously, it’s for the speaker – it has its own internal battery – but the USB wall plug will be useful given that there is constant infighting among my roommates for the sole iPhone charger in the house. Maybe Danklo’s business model should be to send three Apple lightning cables every month; god knows the damn things tend to go missing more often than not.
One dollar! I must admit that I was secretly hoping for at least a twenty, but in effect that means this month’s box was a solid $12.99 for a Bluetooth speaker it is! (Not really I must say.) There seems to be no documentation in the box that points to the maker, but I did some digging online and found that this particular one is made by Formenti. On the surface, this seems like something useful. It can either be used as a Bluetooth speaker paired with your iPhone or laptop, or you can insert a micro SD memory card to play MP3s directly from it.
Here’s the inadvertently amusing part about this incredible piece of modern engineering – when you power the speaker on, the speaker blares a chime at you as and then in a soothing, accented voice states “the external sound mode!” (MP3 mode) or “the device allllready ready to connect!” (Bluetooth mode). It is absolutely hilarious at first, so just watch the video.
The charm rapidly wears off when you realize that this happens EVERY TIME you power the speaker on and the volume is loud enough to double as an airport intercom. I worry if I turn this on in the street, every car alarm in a three block radius will trigger. Bullhorns used by riot police have a lower decibel output. It’s so obnoxiously loud that I don’t even WANT to use it, and I’m still confused as to why they felt the speaker has to tell me which mode it’s in through via the medium of broken English when the switch itself is clearly labeled! You don’t need a degree in linguistics from MIT to know what the Bluetooth logo looks like, or what “MP3” means. These are global standards, not bizarre North American idioms.
I did manage to pair the device to my iPhone 5 with no problems whatsoever, but the sound quality isn’t exactly Bose quality, and I’d be pushing it to even say it’s even up to Beats by Dre standards. Even though the Danklo-supplied leaflet gave instructions for how to use the device, the original documentation for this fine piece of electronics is far more entertaining. It states, and I quote:
“The Compact S10 gives you “big speaker” sound by using the slight flexibility of tables and other surfaces as a sounding board. The table’s large surface area can be transformed into an effective woofer for satisfying bass response.”
Where the hell is Formenti finding its engineers? In what dimension does any audiophile look at their dining room table or desk and think “yep, that’s going to make a great subwoofer, if only I had some kind of portable burglar alarm to hook up to my laptop in order to realize the wood’s full potential”? Let’s not overlook the fact that there is no volume dial on this thing – the same engineers that see the potential for bass response in household furniture also apparently decided that the skip and volume controls should be on the same switch. In my attempt to save what was left of my hearing by decreasing the volume of this miniature sonic cannon, I accidentally skipped through about three YouTube videos. It’s quite remarkable that something so small can have such a violent output, but if you fumble with the thing like it’s a live grenade just to turn the volume down, I’m going to go ahead and say that this wasn’t something that really went through a rigorous QA process.
Given the quality of the S10, and the fact that I don’t want to hear that dude’s stupid voice again for as long as I live, I think I shold probably leave it powered off lest its obvious cheapness lead to a massive failure and it exploding in a maelstrom of shrapnel. For the record, I couldn’t find any online outlets that actually carry this device, which leads me to believe that it’s probably available in most Dollar Stores or gas stations, next to the off-brand iPhone chargers and motor oil. The speaker does have one good thing going for it, though: it’s pretty hefty. It’ll make a great paperweight for all the money Danklo is about to send me.
Final Grade: D+
As soon as that $1000 shows up in my box, I’m canceling. Hope springs eternal.