Ever wanted to try out a new tech toy before you decide to plunker down your hard earned cash to actually own it? For early adopters and those curious to know what the “user experience”–a phrase being commonly tossed around by gear makers from Apple to Google and Microsoft–would be before you buy your geek items, a new service called Snapgoods hopes to fulfill just that aim: pay a daily rental fee, put down a deposit, borrow the gear from a neighbor in your city to try out, and return it at a safe spot designated by Snapgoods.
The service works similar to hourly car rental service ZipCar where you can reserve an item–whether it be an iron or a smart phone–and pay a small nominal rental price and deposit via PayPal. You’d meet with the lender to pick up and drop off the item after you’re done at a designated drop-off location.
Snapgoods is a hyperlocal service built upon trust and users are verified in a number of ways before they’re entrusted into the system–including Facebook, SMS emails, and ratings by lenders. The deposit serves as a a level of security in case your item gets broken, stolen, or treated carelessly, in which case you–as the lender–can notify Snapgoods and retain the deposit. However, there is no insurance mechanism in place yet.
The hyperlocal service is currently only available in the New York area, but Snapgoods creators are hoping to expand the ZipCar-like experience for gadget geeks to other locales in the future.