It is that time of year again, asked questions by students and so I will now be fair and post the response here…
Now that my profile has become a fair bit more public I get asked quite alot if people can have pre-release hardware for products that are arriving soon. The truth is, it's not that simple, we are a mass-manufacturing company and for us to produce something in low volume (such as samples) it is incredibly expensive. It takes a certain amount of time to set-up a production run, then the sample run may only produce a fraction of a full production run, or another alternative is that the boards assembled by hand, anyway there are various methods all producing expensive hardware. This can be one of the most significant single expenses we might have in development after paying the developers.
Once the software is tested and all the bugs tidied up we can actually start manufacturing completed products in a couple of days, the turn around is amazingly quick because of the preparation that happens in advance. So the time between the last bug fix and the shelf is actually very short when there is a pressure on time from the customers.
So, please, first there is no point in asking for prototype hardware, it's too expensive and second you'll get products when they are ready we don't delay for our fun! We need the return on investment as soon as possible, so we release at the most appropriate moment for everyone.