If you’re the kind of person who will arrive at the airport without charging your phone or laptop, you are also the kind of person who will forget to charge the battery bank in your smart luggage. I discovered this when a three-hour delay kicked off my weekend trip with Incase’s NoviConnected carry-on suitcase. Sorry, but it’s true.
At home, it took six hours of wall charging at home to get the NoviConnected’s 10,050-mAh battery up to 100%. A few days later, I packed my bag, headed to the airport and waited at the gate. By the time I realized I needed to charge my phone, the suitcase’s battery had gone down to 76% after doing nothing, with an estimated one hour and 23 minutes’ worth of juice.
Charging my phone back up to 80% took the suitcase’s battery down to 19%. What about charging a laptop? Forget about it. The bag’s battery bank is strictly for small devices only and it’s best conserved for an emergency situation. Since everything from your boarding pass to your hotel reservation is on your phone, you’ll need that to be juiced up, so it’s not a total loss. Like the rest of the bag’s smart features, it may promise more than it can actually deliver.
For example, take the suitcase’s Smart Luggage tracker. It uses Bluetooth and has a range of up to 33 feet. On a full flight, I ended up checking my carry-on at the airline’s request. When I got to baggage claim, I glanced at the Incase app to determine my luggage’s whereabouts and found out that my bag was out of range. For fifteen minutes, I waited at the baggage carousel like an ordinary plebe, trapped in a seemingly endless purgatory, mired in deep existential uncertainty.
Even walking across my house prompted a notification from my phone, alerting me that the suitcase—safely in my office—was no longer within range. If you want a smart luggage tracker, it should probably use GPS instead of Bluetooth.
Incase NoviConnected Travel Roller
Beautiful. Durable. Hubless wheels roll smoothly and easily and are easily replaceable. Battery bank will save you in a pinch. Comes with rain cover.
Bluetooth tracker makes no sense. No side handle. Battery life was disappointing.
But as a piece of ordinary luggage, the bag performed admirably. It has a simple, durable makrolon polycarbonate shell that showed little wear after a few trips around the baggage carousel. The navy color of my sample case was elegant and surprisingly distinctive among a billion black bags. The interior, with mesh zip pockets and an included laundry bag, easily accommodated several days’ worth of clothes and shoes.
The bag was impossible to tip over, even with a tote bag hooked on top. The hubless wheels rolled smoothly—almost a little too smoothly, as the suitcase escaped me when my attention wandered on a slanting parking lot garage floor—and it’s simple to pop the wheels on and off if you need to fit the suitcase into an overhead compartment. This model also carries a lifetime warranty from Incase, so the wheels are covered if they break (the power bank’s embedded battery has a two-year limited warranty).
The integrated TSA-approved lock works like you’d expect, and it proved useful when I ended up checking my carry-on to save overhead space on two packed flights. However, I would have appreciated a side handle to make it easier to hoist around.
As holiday travel season approaches, you do have to find a way to get all your stuff from Point A to Point B without carrying it all in your arms. Incase is known for their attractive, Apple-compatible accessories and bags, and the NoviConnected is no exception. It’s elegant, rolls with ease, and has the capacity to save your tuchus right when you need it most—when your phone is about to die and you have no way to text your ride or check your car rental confirmation number.
But there are just too many other moderately-priced smart carry-ons out there right now with features that make a bit more sense, like a true GPS locator that can tell you if your baggage has made it to your destination. Or just bring your own spare battery and pop a Tile tracker into your current luggage and call it a day.