Let’s be honest here. You’re reading about the Levitating Death Star speaker because I wanted one.
To understand that, you only need to look at it:
It’s a journalist’s life to be offered stuff. And rightly so – smartphones are much more than a lifestyle product, and you can’t tell people they’re up to scratch if you haven’t used one yourself.
In most cases, however, despite best intentions, that usually means an unboxing walkthrough, rundown of the specs and a sneaky peek at what others are saying before a quick post, because you don’t want to look like a numpty and haste is of the essence. Then promise yourself and the PR person you’ll do something “more in-depth” once you’ve had a proper length of time together.
Sometimes, you actually do follow up on that. I found the Blackberry Passport genuinely interesting and used it for two years. The Nexus 6P, however, had little to differentiate itself after the unboxing apart from being really, really reliable and uncluttered.
Most of the time, you turn down product offerings because a report on the new bright colours in the lunchbox cooler range – however much your kids need them – on Business Insider is clearly going to have someone asking uncomfortable questions.
And you’ll be hit with a wave of 27 other lunchbox cooler companies demanding space for their new bright colours.
But I wanted a Levitating Death Star speaker. To justify it, I told myself I also wanted you, the reader, to know such a thing exists.
Clearly, that’s ridiculous. It’s assuming you missed the 7090 Google results for “levitating death star”. That’s 7090 Google “News” results.
It really is very difficult to work with that thing spinning in the background:
I’d suggest a) not spinning and b) putting it out of sight so you don’t feel the need to get up and spin it again when it stops
It’s been on sale since October 1, so I can’t even pretend it’s news. Of the seven (I think) “elements of newsworthiness” categories I was told to pay attention to at uni, it scrapes into one.
7090 Google “News” results.
You’d be forgiven for thinking Plox had invented levitating speakers, when in fact, they’ve been around since 2014. But you’d struggle to find them in Google News searches.
The rundown of the big ones is as follows:
- “Om levitating speaker” – 390 results
- “Crazybaby levitating speaker” – 113 results
- “SPACO levitating speaker” – 1680 results
And, once again, “Plox Death Star” – 7090. That means there’s been a lot of journalists in the world the past two months desperately looking for something different to write about a two-year-old technology.
Fortunately, Plox is an Australian company, so here’s Google News result No 7091. (“Location” is the single newsworthiness crutch I’ll hobble on.) As it turns out, Plox’s co-founder is 28-year-old Aussie Sean Andrews.
Andrews, 28, started Plox as a university project proposal while studying an entrepreneurship degree. I didn’t even have to interview him to find that out. Nor did I have to interview him to throw in the interesting morsel that in 2015, the company was named a CES Innovation Award Honoree for its Freedom portable chargers.
But interview him I did, and as it turns out, Andrews deserves recognition for brilliantly executing what looks in hindsight a painfully obvious sure fire winner.
1) Note levitating speakers are a thing made in China. 2) Think of something incredibly cool that levitates. 3) Begin negotiations with Disney over Death Star levitating speaker.
And he should also get credit for sticking with it. Anything carrying that brand is notoriously difficult to get to market. Andrews said the process was smooth but “naturally” Disney was “very specific” about how the Star Wars brand was to be applied. He ended up spending 12 months negotiating over the fine details on the Death Star.
“There was specifically emphasis on the Super Laser,” Andrews said, “which you will note has played a key scene in trailers leading up to the movie.”
It was 12 months well-spent. Plox has sold about 8000 units and counting. At $250 apiece, that’s a solid $2 million in two months.
Hopefully they won’t make me return it, but just in case, I added a few more pointed questions in for Andrews, including the obligatory one about whether he was worried about any threats to steal the plans for it before it got to production?
“Only from the Rebel Forces.”
Perfect. But there really is a technical side to all this. At $250 ($249), a Levitating Death Star Speaker could be just an expensive toy, but Andrews said it was important to ensure it actually was a decent speaker.
It’s hefty, which is a good sign, for starters. Happily, it pairs quickly and neatly (Bluetooth 4.1) and the 5W speaker is more than capable of doing justice to anything Spotify can deliver.
My only gripe is it’s loud enough, but not loud enough. I’m not sure it would carry a party.
“We worked to achieve the optimal balance of sound, design and performance whilst ensuring that we maintained a good level of audio quality,” Andrews said. “The audio level has been capped to ensure that the speaker does not distort – despite the wide range of music available.”
It does actually distort a little, but only until I eventually get over the irresistible need to keep spinning it.
While we’re on that, you actually do need to be a Jedi to get the darned thing to float properly. It took me hours to realise this…
…was a levelling guide I was supposed to use. So was that an afterthought? Because it looks a bit like it.
Andrews said sort of, but it was a need they identified pretty quickly.
“Initially we chose to work with it, to play on the fact that only Force users could balance the Death Star without a guide,” he said. “Eventually, we realised that it was a necessity. Are you a Force user?”
Journalism done; a decent story of an Aussie lad kicking some big goals as well as an irresistible PR pitch. Andrews hopes its success will put Plox on the path to becoming a leading Australian consumer brand supplier, and the Levitating Death Star Speaker is certainly a great start.
And right now, you’re thinking about how much your kids will love you for this on Christmas Day.