I know the first batch of 11's were bad, mine was a later batch and I've had no problems. The cable tension has to be spot on when setting up and you have to learn to ease off at the right moment while shifting (milliseconds), but once I got used to it I was actually pulling away a lot quicker and harder than my 1x9 XT setup (and my riding mates). I found the gear ratios were fine once I got used to it, same as going 1x9 or 10. I might be sticking on my 1x10 to see the difference during whatever summer we get.
The idea of the 3 speed I suggested would be like a singlespeed plus 2, designed from the ground up for hard use but lightweight, simple gears for speed> tech(direct drive)> climbing. I think a lot of people like me have tried singlespeed and liked it but felt like they needed another gear or two. I missed the speed on the flat and it is hard on your knees and legs on longer\steeper climbs. I have friends who only ride SS and are still quicker, but they are whippets.