The Tech Moves

The Most Practical Travel Gadget You’ll Ever Use

Author : Jeff Dunn, Insider Picks

Whether for work or pleasure, traveling shouldn’t be stressful. But if you’re the type who can’t stop using things with screens — i.e., if you’re a human in 2016 — you may have no choice but to lug along an overflow of gadgets. That might not only include your basic smartphone, tablet, or laptop, but also a handful of accessories needed to keep them up and running.

If that sounds like a problem you’ve had before, the HooToo TripMate Elite should help you pack a little lighter. Priced at $38, it’s an all-in-one device that simultaneously serves as a portable battery, USB wall charger, travel WiFi router, and a network-attached storage (or NAS). It packs all this into something the size of a glossy black MacBook charger.

Considering how many mini routers, NAS devices, and chargers there are that can’t do their one job right, it’s easy to be skeptical of something that claims to replicate all of them at once. The TripMate, however, actually does work. It isn’t the best at any one of its functions, but it’s serviceable enough at each to come in handy on the go.

As a battery and wall charger, it works fine. It has a foldable AC plug and two USB ports built-in — one at 1A, the other at 1/2.1A — and carries a 6,000mAh capacity. That’s enough to charge most smartphones about twice, and most tablets around halfway. When you need to charge the TripMate itself, you just plug it into an outlet.

The router and personal cloud features are a little more exciting. Of the two, the router functionality probably works best. It’s altogether simple to set up, and when plugged into a modem, gets close to your maximum internet speeds. There’s an ethernet port on its back, so if you’re staying in a hotel room with just a cabled connection, you can just hook it up here and make it wireless. The device can also act as a bridge for multiple wireless connections at once. And with a little ingenuity, you can use it to get something like a Chromecast working over previously inaccessible networks.

As a NAS, the TripMate isn’t quite as robust. The TripMate app you need to use to access your stuff is still a bit clunky, and the device itself doesn’t have any included storage. If you’re willing to fiddle around with it, though, it’s at least possible to hook a hard drive or microSD card up to the device, then stream video or music files you have on it through the cloud. It’s consistent enough to be useful on a long flight or train ride.

You can find individual batteries, wall chargers, NAS devices, and routers that perform better, but then you have to keep track of four separate things. Given how much this thing does for its size (and price), the TripMate is a great companion for any tech-savvy traveler.

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