Review: Ekster Parliament smart wallet with Bluetooth tracker
Bringing wallets into the new millennium.
If you want to minimize the amount of junk in your pockets, the quickest place to start is your wallet. I mean, nobody really needs to carry those expired gift cards, old receipts, business cards of people you’ll never call, or those 20 store cards.
You might not have heard of Ekster if you don’t pay attention to Kickstarter. That’s where their first wallets were brought into existence, and they’ve not stopped since. Named after the Dutch word for magpie, the company aims to hide the ‘smart’ part of their smart wallets inside classical styling.
The flagship model we’re looking at today also follows the magpie theme, as a Parliament is the name of a flock of the birds. With space for up to 10+ credit cards (six of which are RFID-blocked and have a quick-fire access button), a money strap, and premium European leather (now in 7 colors), on the face of things it looks to be right on the money.
Add to that a solar-powered Bluetooth tracking card that uses the worldwide Chipolo network for location finding, and is the new Ekster range the unloseable wallet we’ve all dreamed of?
Slimline your life
Okay, first off let’s talk about saving. Space saving, that is. I mean look at it. That’s maybe a sixth of the volume of my old wallet, while still holding the cards I use daily, my ID, and that location tracker.
I’m one of those people who hates sitting on their wallet. It took me years to get used to it, and I only really got acclimatized when I put a chain on it, because when you’re a teenager – wallet chains and baggy jeans are a must. I still prefer not sitting on a leather-covered brick though.
The Ekster Parliament takes up about the same space as a pack of gum. Now I can sling my wallet in my front pocket, without making my keys dig into my leg. Sweet. Then I know I’ve always got it, and I’m not as worried about pickpockets (who were part of the reason the chain went on).
New range, new tricks
The 3.0 versions of Ekster’s range have a couple of major updates from the previous models. The quick-access card holder part is now anodized aluminum, for RFID blocking and toughness. The quick-release mechanism has been tweaked to never jam, and a new slippy coating ejects your cards further than before.
I can attest to the smoothness of this mechanism, never once did I feel like my cards would get stuck.
The other important tech updates are on the Bluetooth tracker. Now it uses BLE 4.0, doubling the range from 30m to 60m (that’s about 200 feet). The tracker works both ways, either you can use your phone to find the tracker, or press the tracker button to make your phone ring. Handy to keep tabs on your stuff.
It’s recharged by light, with a few hours of daylight giving two months of operation. New to the tracker are Alexa and Google Assistant integrations, so you can ask your voice assistant to find your wallet! Ekster also recently partnered with Chipolo, the world’s leading provider of trackers, giving you access to a worldwide network if you misplace your wallet. In case you drop it somewhere out of range of the network, a QR-code on the tracker can be scanned by any smartphone which will let the finder get back in touch with you.
The Chipolo tracking works well, showing the area you need to search in. It also lets you start the tracker ringing, so you can get guided in by sound. No more losing your wallet down the couch cushions.
So should I buy it?
I mean, we put it in our Father’s Day guide for this year for a reason. Our wallets have been insecure and bulky for too long, it’s time to change that.
The Ekster Parliament smart wallet with tracker isn’t cheap at $109, but then again neither is the time it takes to replace all your cards etc if you lose your wallet. With the average American having 5.6 credit cards, the Parliament can fit all the cards you use, with space to spare. Why carry anything bulkier?
A sample unit was provided for the purpose of this review.
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