How would you like a 7″ tablet with a Quad-core ARM Cortex A9 processor, USB 3.0, 32 GB of storage, 802.11ac, four ports of Gigabit LAN, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, SATA, HDMI, built-in Zigbee and RFID modules, a camera, speaker and microphone, all for $170? Sound too good to be true? That’s because it probably is. Meet SOAP, the home automation router with a touchscreen, that’s shaping up to be one of the largest scams Kickstarter has ever seen.
There have been a few threads scattered over the web going over some of the… “inconsistencies” about the SOAP kickstarter, mainly focusing on the possibility of fake Facebook likes and Twitter followers. There’s also the question of their development process: they started building a router with an Arduino, then moved on to a Raspberry Pi, a Beaglebone, Intel Atom-powered Minnowboard, the Gizmo Board, PandaBoard, and Wandboard. If you’re keeping track, that’s at least six completely different architectures used in their development iterations. Anyone who has ever tried to build something – not even build a product, mind you – will realize there’s something off here. This isn’t even considering a reasonably accurate BOM breakdown that puts the total cost of production at $131.
The most damning evidence comes from screenshots of the final board design. These pics have since been removed from the Kickstarter page, but they’re still available on the Google cache. The SOAP team claims they’re putting USB 3.0 ports on their board, but the pics clearly show only four pins on each of the USB ports. USB 3.0 requires nine pins. A closer inspection reveals these screenshots are from the files for Novena, [Bunnie Huang]’s open source laptop.
In fact, all the mainboard pictures deleted from the Kickstarter page can be reproduced by downloading a few files from the Novena site. For example:
There’s a fairly convincing argument to be had that the SOAP hardware doesn’t exist. At the very least, the SOAP team is trying to Kickstart hardware without a prototype, something against the Kickstarter ToS. At worst, this is a complete scam.
In the interest of fairness, I will offer the SOAP team a chance to redeem themselves. Even though they won’t send any developmental prototypes to review sites, I’m willing to put up $500 of my own money to rent the current version. The deal is simple: send me whatever custom hardware you have, I’ll send it back in two days along with a check for $500. This price includes a, ‘this is not a scam’ post.
I would be willing to try out [Bunnie]’s laptop at that price, anyway.
The SOAP guys posted an update showing off their board. It’s not [Bunnie]’s laptop, and at first glance, appears to have all the ports they’re claiming.