Those who frequently travel with their tablet might wish it had an Ethernet port, a memory card slot, and a bigger battery. The HooToo TripMate (HT-TM01) can bring all of these to the mobile device of your choice.
Build and Design
This accessory is a small black box with rounded corners. It sports an Ethernet port and a full-size USB port, necessary for its functions. There’s one large power button on the front, and a set of LEDs to indicate various statuses.
At 3.8 x 1.7 x 1.1 inches and 4.4 oz., is quite portable. It’s just a bit too large to be easily pocketable, but slips almost unnoticeably into a gear bag or purse. And because it combines three functions in one it can even save room, if you want to look at it that way.
The HT-TM-01 performs three functions: memory card reader, travel router, and battery.
Memory Card Reader
There’s no doubt there are a huge number iPad users who would be happy if Apple would put a memory-card slot on the next model, and there are other companies who put out tablets without built-in card readers, like Google.
Users of one of these devices can turn to the TripMate. A USB drive can be plugged into this accessory to access the contents of the drive. Unlike some of its competitors it does not have an SD card slot, but it does support card readers, so the tablet can get indirect access to microSD cards, SD cards, Memory Sticks, etc.
This requires a free app called, logically enough, HooToo TripMate. This can display the contents of a drive/card reader plugged into the accessory, as well as directly play most common file types. This means a user can, for example, load a 128GB thumbdrive up with dozens of movies and play them on their tablet without using up the limited internal storage capacity of their iPad or Nexus.
HooToo’s app is well designed: it’s both logically arranged and attractive to look at.
File types it can’t read directly can be transferred to other apps. Unfortunately, the iOS version offers only limited support for “Open in…”, which sometimes makes it difficult for iPad users to move files from a memory card/drive to a specific app they’d like to edit it with.
The computer and card reader are connected over WiFi — no wires are required.
The TripMate can stream video directly off a card, and movies or TV shows begin playing almost immediately. For other types of files, our tests shows that transfers from a USB drive to a tablet happened at approx. 4MB/sec, while copying from a microSD card in a card reader to the tablet happened at approx. 2MB/sec.
When the tablet is connected to the TripMate over WiFi, the tablet can’t have a direct connection to a wireless internet access point at the same time. However, the TripMate can be connected to an access point and pass this connection along to the tablet. There is a cost for this: in our tests, download speed was decreased by about thwo-thirds, from 24-25Mbps to about 7-8Mbps. This means that most people are not going to want to keep a constant connection to this accessory, but just activate it when necessary to access files on a card.
There are still places that offer a wired connection to the Internet but no WiFi. Sometimes this is a client’s office, sometime it’s your mother-in-laws’. In either case, you can plug an Ethernet cable into this accessory from HooToo and you’re in business.
The TripMate is not as fast a router as a non-mobile one: an internet connection that offers downloads at 24-25Mbps over a regular, commercial WiFi router drops to 7-8Mbps when run through HooToo’s accessory.
This slow-down is common for travel routers, especially ones that also function as memory-memory card readers.
Much of the bulk of the TripMate is a 5200mAh battery. This both allows it to runs as a streaming media server for many hours, it can also bump up the charge in a tablet or phone.
In our tests, we found that this accessory was able to impart a roughly 35% charge to an iPad.
The TripMate itself is charged through a micro-USB port on its side. The necessary cable is included, but a wall plug is not. The one that comes with virtually all tablets and phones can handle this job, however.
The HooToo TripMate is a good option for frequent travelers, as it offers all of the features they need when on the road. Its software could stand some tweaks, but all-in-all this accessory mostly stands up well against the competition.