- Buyer's Guide
Incase NoviConnected 4 Wheel Hubless Travel Roller: Drive By
Incase has entered the ever-growing smart luggage market with the NoviConnected 4 Wheel Hubless Travel Roller. For the past couple of months I’ve put the NoviConnected to the test over a few weekend road trips, a couple of flights, and an extended stay in Vegas, which technically is anything over two days. Let’s see how it stacks up in the luggage 2.0 category.
*Note new laws as of Jan. 15, 2018, ban any smart luggage with a non-removable lithium-ion battery on airline carriers such as American Airlines, Alaska, and Delta to be checked or carried onto flights. Smart luggage with removable batteries will be allowed into the cabin as a carry-on. This review does not take this into consideration, however Incase has announced an update to the NoviConnected that will launch in the third quarter of the year and will feature a removable 12,000mAh power bank with dual USB-C and USB ports and added ergonomic top and side carry handles. Additionally, the battery in the current version is removable with a little effort (further details below).
Who It Suits
Those looking for style, tech, and ample storage for a short trip in one complete package. Also works well for Apple product users.
Who It Doesn’t
Those who don’t need to charge their devices on the go or those not wanting to spend $300 on a carry-on.
Let’s start with the sleek and streamlined styling. The modern design cues ensure fellow travelers know that you have great taste when it comes to luggage. The luggage is lightweight so you can make those pesky carry-on weight requirements. I found the carry-on easily fitted in the standard size overhead bin, but Incase’s thoughtful design includes removable wheels to fit in even tighter spaces.
“I found the carry-on easily fitted in the standard size overhead bin, but Incase’s thoughtful design includes removable wheels to fit in even tighter spaces.”
For power on the go, the 10,050mAh power bank with both USB and USB-C compatibility can charge up to two devices simultaneously including a MacBook, iPad, or iPhone. There’s enough juice to power up an iPhone up to four times. I appreciate the built-in power indicator to easily see how much power is left in the battery.
Internally, there is ample storage for an average short trip. The main compartment holds up to 41L and the clamshell design opens wide with two sections of storage space. One side is completely enclosed within a zip closure and mesh divider, while the opposite compartment keeps things in place with a mesh pocketed divider and two clips.
“For power on the go, the 10,050mAh power bank with both USB and USB-C compatibility can charge up to two devices simultaneously.”
Incase didn’t skimp on details with their first smart luggage offering. For security there is a TSA lock and a Smart App that connects your smartphone to the luggage via Bluetooth. The app works well enough and offers a proximity alert and the ability to monitor power levels of the power bank. I did find the alert noise to be a bit soft especially in a crowded airport, which would make it difficult to find in the event it was taken. They also include a garment bag to keep your clean clothes separate and a dust cover to keep the exterior clean when stored.
The height-adjustable telescopic handle slides open easily and I found the TPU handle comfortable. I have a love/hate relationship with the wheels. I love that they are small and roll smoothly on most surfaces. They are also removable if you need to take them off to fit in tight spaces. The only issue with taking off the wheels is that they are pre-greased and can be a bit messy if you do decide to remove the wheels while traveling.
Finally, Incase offers a limited lifetime warranty on the luggage itself and a two-year limited warranty on the battery, which shows they stand behind their products when compared to many one-year warranties.
The Not So Good
I found the class-A Makrolon polycarbonate shell in matte black looks great when brand new and is incredibly strong and durable. However, it also scratches pretty easily and after some normal use can show the wear and tear of travel. So if you like your luggage looking fresh you may want to try another option or finish, which may hide the scuffs a bit more.
The internal battery takes a while to charge and it’s best to charge it overnight as it does take several hours to get from 0% to 100%. With this initial version of the NoviConnected the internal battery is removable with some effort, tools, and a few minutes. But it does leave a gaping hole in the luggage where the battery was stored. Incase will provide a TSA-approved screwdriver for this task, and removal instructions can be found under the FAQ section on the product page.
“It scratches pretty easily and after some normal use can show the wear and tear of travel.”
Back to the wheels, they roll nicely as I mentioned, however on some carpet and other uneven or smooth surfaces it does tend to stick a bit so it might take a bit more effort to get to your destination.
Organization is limited to the two internal compartments and one mesh zip sleeve. There are no additional pockets or external pockets, which are handy for quickly tossing in a few items as you go through security. The upcoming Incase ProConnected includes a top tray storage compartment, which tells me the company has put this need into consideration. I also wish the compression system worked a bit better to help fit a few more items.
The app is limiting with a range of only up to about 33 feet with the Bluetooth connection. If you need more range there are other device trackers such as the TrackR Pixel and Bravo with a Bluetooth range up to 100 feet or even GPS trackers. Again the alert is a bit too soft in my opinion.
“Organization is limited to the two internal compartments and one mesh zip sleeve. There are no additional pockets or external pockets.”
There were a couple of other features that I wish the NoviConnected included such as a digital scale in the handle to ensure I’m within the weight restrictions of the ever-increasing rules and regulations of the airline industry. I also would have liked a small side handle for ease of carrying and grabbing from any angle (the new version of the NoviConnected will include a side handle – again taking needs into consideration).
Overall, this is a great carry-on option for a short stint. The design is elegant and attractive, ensuring you’re traveling in style. Priced competitively at $299.95, this smart luggage is convenient and helps to avoid the dreaded search for a power outlet at the airport. Despite its few shortcomings this is definitely a contender in the battle of smart luggage supremacy. If you can wait a few more months, I would hold out for the second generation NoviConnected 4 Wheel Hubless Travel Roller, which will retail for the same price and eventually replace this version.