I have been wanting to give my HooToo TripMate Nano a test and do a write up on it, but have kept putting it off. Last week, when we went to Kiawah Island, SC, I forgot to take my WD MyPassport Wi-Fi drive so I had the perfect opportunity to try out the HooToo TripMate Nano, which was packed in my camera bag. I took it, its USB cable and power plug, and a USB flash drive out of my bag and plugged it all in. The HooToo TripMate Nano must be plugged into a power source to work. It also has no storage space, but does, as the WD MyPassport Wi-Fi drive, broadcast a wi-fi hotspot to which you can connect your mobile device. And, like the WD MyPassport Wi-Fi drive, you can plug any USB device, such as a USB flash drive, into it and access content on that device. It has two main purposes: (1) to act as an wi-fi accessible host device to which a storage unit is attached and (2) as a wi-fi hot spot when connected to a local network. Using the TripMate Nano as a Host Device
Let me first discuss how I see myself using this tiny little giant of a device and then I will address its second and very practical use as a wi-fi network access point. The HooToo TripMate Nano really is tiny, measuring only 2” X 2.25” (approximately 5X5.7cm)! It has one USB port, through which you can attach a simple, little memory stick as illustrated in the accompanying pictures or a USB hard drive. As mentioned, it also has a power port and comes with a short USB cable so you can attach it to a computer to power it. If you want to plug it into a wall socket, as I do, you must have a USB power plug such as used with mobile phones and tablets, Kindles, etc. For my testing of the TripMate Nano, I used a 16GB memory stick. To access the TripMate Nano from your mobile device (IOS or Android), you need to download the free app called HooToo TripMate.
Once you have downloaded and installed the app and plugged in the HooToo TripMate, you go to your device’s wi-fi settings. You should see the TripMate listed as a wi-fi hot spot. Connect to it and then go to the app. Click on the “Settings” icon. In Settings you can rename your TripMate - I chose “Booz-TripMateNano” - choose security options, and connect the HooToo TripMate to your home or any public wi-fi network. Just as with the WD MyPassport Wi-Fi drive, this not only gives you access to the TripMate (and any device attached to it), but also out to the Internet using the wi-fi network to which you have connected it.
Since I have a USB memory stick inserted into my TripMate, I can see a folder representing that device on the TripMate’s home screen. When I tap on the folder icon, I then see icons for all the folders and files on the memory stick. Since starting a 365-day project for B&W images, I have been putting each image in a folder on my MyPassport drive, but since I didn’t have it with me on this trip, I decided to store the images in their own folder on my memory stick. I named this folder “ImagesForMyPassport” and you can see it as one of the folders in the accompanying TripMate screenshot. What I planned to do during our week away was to upload images from my iPhone or iPad into this folder so I could transfer them from the memory stick to the MyPassport drive when I got home. From the screenshot image of the TripMate app, you can see at the bottom where you can select to look at the device attached to the TripMate Nano (on the bottom left) or at the device on which you are using the app (bottom right) which, in this case was my iPad. When I select to view folders on my iPad, I am shown five folders. I select iPad Photos and now see a display of folders for all of my albums and shared, iCloud albums.
When the TripMate Nano app displays the contents of my All Photos (similar to Camera Roll) folder the display is limited to 24 images per screen. Since I have a lot of images in my All Photos directory right now, that’s a lot of scrolling to get to the most recent images! What I learned to do was add those images I wanted to upload to the memory stick to a separate album which I named “For Transfer.” When I was ready to transfer some images to the memory stick, I connected to the TripMate Nano, navigated to the “For Transfer” folder on my device, and clicked on the “Manage” icon in menu bar, then tap on those images I wanted to upload. A checkmark appears on those images selected and I can click on the “Upload” icon at the bottom of the screen to begin the transfer process. NOTE: I’ve noticed that sometimes clicking on the icon display of images doesn't work, but If I click on the “View” icon button at the top, I am able to select the images I want from the resulting list. The next step is to select the destination for your images. The app displays an overlay window which allows you to navigate to the desired destination folder. Once you have done that, you click on the “OK” button and the transfer status begins with a display in a larger window.
I found that I occasionally needed to retrieve an image from the memory stick attached to the TripMate Nano. The process is basically the same as you can see in the images from my iPhone connection. Having this capability with such a tiny device can be quite handy, but the real value comes in the fact that anyone with the app on his/her device (IOS or Android) to whom you give access to the TripMate (if you choose to protect access) can upload images to the attached storage medium! Think parties, family vacations, etc.! Just as with the MyPassport Wi-Fi drive, you can collect all the images everyone takes on one, central storage device!
Using the TripMate Nano as a Travel Router
Perhaps the most clever use for this little gem of a device costing only around $25 US is as a portable travel router. The primary idea here is for those times you are in a hotel, for example, that only has a wired Ethernet connection to access the Internet. This is becoming less and less a problem as hotels realize they need to provide wi-fi in their guest rooms in order to be competitive. However, if you find yourself in a situation where your only option for Internet access is an Ethernet connection, you can plug an Ethernet cable into the Ethernet port on the HooToo TripMate Nano and then into the Ethernet port provided by the hotel and, voila!, you have your very own wireless network that can be shared with all those in your party. Another use for creating such a local wireless network is if you have a network and don’t want to share the password with guests. Connect the TripMate Nano to it with its own, unique password and share that with your guests. In addition, if you are in a place where the current wi-fi network limits the number of connected devices, you can make one of those devices be the TripMate Nano and extend the number of devices that can be connected to the network.
Using the TripMate Nano as a Media Streaming Server
The HooToo TripMate Nano can also stream videos and music. To stream some videos stored on the storage device connected to the TripMate Nano, you may need a video client that supports the DLNA protocol. The free app, VLC for IOS, works, as does the MoliPlayer HD app. I have not tested this feature of the HooToo TripMate Nano yet, but will.
I am glad that I have both the HooToo TripMate Nano and the WD MyPassport Wi-Fi hard drive (http://www.infotor.com/blog/backing-up-everyones-photos-to-the-wd-passport-wi-fi-drive-when-traveling/). Though similar in some ways, they can serve very different purposes as I have described in this article. To some extent the TripMate Nano is almost more versatile, as it allows you to make the content on any connected USB device accessible over wi-fi. The TripMate does require power, whereas the MyPassport does not and its battery life is good for about 4-6 hours. I had difficulty with my first HooToo TripMate Nano and tried all the trouble-shooting tips before I finally wrote to HooToo (http://www.hootoo.com) and explained what was happening. Within hours I had a response and was told that they were sending me a new unit at no cost. Now, THAT is customer service!! The new unit worked like a charm and is what I used for this test.
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