Finally, One Travel-Bag Gadget to Rule Them All

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eHow Tech Blog

My travel bag is getting ridiculous.

Mobile charger, mobile router, mobile media hub, AC adapters, and on and on. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard snickering from TSA agents as I pass through security.

That’s why I’m fairly excited about a new product that recently emerged on crowdfunding site Indiegogo: the HooToo TripMate Elite. It’s five, five, five travel gadgets in one. And if you decide to fund it, you can score one on the cheap.

Let me just pause for a moment: HooToo? Um, okay, not the silliest company name I’ve ever heard, but way up there.

The TripMate is a glossy black box (mine came in white) that measures roughly three inches square and an inch thick. It weighs only about seven ounces, surprising given that it packs a 6,000mAh battery that powers both the TripMate itself and whatever devices you need to charge.

To that end, the gizmo sports two USB ports: a 1-amp and a 2.1-map, the latter suitable for charging tablets and larger phones. One thing I especially love about the TripMate is that it has built-in wall prongs, meaning you don’t need to pack an extra cable and/or AC adapter just to recharge its battery.

(Note to mobile-charger makers everywhere: All mobile chargers should have this feature.)

The TripMate also serves as a media hub, streaming music, movies, and other files from any connected USB flash drive or hard drive. That’s a great way to expand (after a fashion) the available storage for your smartphone or tablet, though you can also use this to wirelessly share files with a PC.

(In an ideal world, it would also have an SD or microSD slot so you wouldn’t have to have storage sticking out of it. Here’s hoping that’s in the plans for the TripMate Elite 2.)

Next, the TripMate functions as a network access point. So, for example, if you find yourself in a hotel room that has Ethernet connectivity but not Wi-Fi (or that charges for the latter), you can plug that cable right into the TripMate’s Ethernet port. Then, presto, it becomes a handy Wi-Fi hotspot.

You can also configure it for use as a traditional Wi-Fi router (just plug it into your DSL or cable modem) and as a bridge, the latter great for setting up a secondary network (like for guests) on top of your primary one.

And that’s how this one gizmo effectively takes the place of five: charger, media hub, router, access point, and bridge.

Assuming the TripMate Elite hits its funding goal of $8,000 (it’s currently hovering just above $500), it’s expected to retail for $59.99. That’s not at all a bad price considering what you might pay for a media hub or travel router all by itself.

However, early-bird funders can get one for just $46, with free shipping to the U.S. and Canada.

The developers were kind enough to send me a pre-production TripMate for testing, and I can safely say it works as advertised. In fact, I can also say it’s going into my travel bag for my next trip, because it’ll take the place of two devices I already own (charger and hub) and one I’ve often wished I had (router).

It may not be super-sexy, but the HooToo TripMate Elite is one of the cooler crowd-funded products I’ve seen this year. You should think seriously about getting one while the getting is cheap.

Photo credit: HooToo

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