The downfall of the Superbook, the US$99 laptop shell that may never reach all its backers
Harnessing the power of smartphones for desktop and laptop like experiences is still proving popular. Huawei and Samsung are continuing to maintain their EMUI Easy Projection and DeX desktop modes, while NexComputer recently reached almost US$500,000 in funding for its NexDock 2. It also delivered the first NexDock to backers who cumulatively pledged over US$350,000 nearly three years ago.
Unfortunately, the same has not been the case for Sentio and its Superbook, which raised an eye-watering US$2.95 million in 2016 on Kickstarter. Andrew Jiang and Gordon Zheng, co-founders of Sentio, have posted numerous updates since the campaign ended complaining about spurious supply chain issues including a distributor reportedly stealing around US$300,000 of components. Now, Zheng has admitted to backers that:
We've shipped ~75% of Superbooks, but have run into a roadblock financially. As a company, we've been running on little budget for quite some time.
He also added the following:
We have had another round of discussions, looking for any ways to solve this in the coming weeks and get even *some* inventory released. Given our very limited budget, we don't have a ton of options, but I hope to have some update for you guys in a few weeks.
Scandalously, the pre-order page for the Superbook is still live on Sentio's website, as is the link on its Kickstarter page. Jiang and many other Sentio employees have now moved onto Soda Labs, of which Jiang is the CEO. Soda Labs markets itself as a "startup studio focused on HaaS" (Hardware as a Service) that "build[s] new companies from internal ideas".
If you are one of the unlucky backers to be left short-changed, you may have success filing a chargeback with your bank or a complaint with PayPal if you used either of these methods to purchase the Superbook. Some people have reported to have had success with these methods. Perhaps predictably, Sentio is not offering refunds and is unlikely to ever have the cash flow to do so.