Looking for a cleverly designed smart wallet? Once that’s really smart-as in not just minimalist and RFID blocking, but also virtually impossible to misplace? Ekster has some great options. The company recently sent me its Parliament wallet, complete with a Bluetooth Tracker Card, and I have to say this is definitely a smarter way to be carrying around plastic…
Start With a Minimalist Wallet
Ekster’s Parliament wallet is a bi-fold design, with maximized storage in a compact form factor. And it’s clad in top grain Dutch/German leather in a choice of colors (my review unit is classic brown). Measuring 0.4 x 4.1 x 2.5 inches when folded, this has a significantly smaller footprint than my current minimalist wallet and is about half the thickness. Despite that compact size, it holds up to 10 cards.
Several of them are held in traditional slots. But the secret to this wallet’s capacity is a hard-shelled slot into which you can insert another handful of cards (between four and six depending on whether they’re embossed). They disappear inside and are held securely-I tried but couldn’t shake them loose. And they also can’t be bent. Of course, now you can’t see the cards. But at one end of the Parliament is a spring-loaded button. Push it and the stored cards are pushed out slightly so you can see and accesses them, and they’re fanned so you can see each individual card. You don’t even have to open the wallet for this quick access to work. If you want more detail, here’s a link to how the feature works.
The wallet is also RFID blocking to keep that plastic secure.
What about cash? The Parliament is designed around plastic, but there is a wide elastic strap that will securely hold a small stack of folded currency.
You can make the Parliament even smarter. Ekster sells a Tracker Card that uses Chipolo Bluetooth tracking technology. It’s $49 separately, but $29 if you add it at the time of a wallet purchase. And it’s definitely worth the $29.
About the size of a credit card (but twice as thick) this card incorporates a Bluetooth beacon that uses BLE 4.0 with a range of up to 200 feet. There’s a pocket in the Parliament sized perfectly to store the card, allowing you to locate your wallet (or its last known location) and have it emit an audible alert so you can find it. If you allow location tracking, it can utilize crowd location through the Chipolo app to help find a wallet that is truly lost.
There is also a button on the card itself that you can push to have your smartphone play an audible alert-so that location feature works in both directions.
You don’t need to worry about replacing batteries, because the Tracker Card has a built-in solar charger. Ekster says three hours of charging nets you two to three months of use. I haven’t had it for two months yet, but I charged it once on an overcast afternoon and it hasn’t complained about a low battery yet.
You’ll need to download the Chipolo mobile app to set the card up, but the process is straightforward and takes just minutes.
Taking this whole “smart” thing to the next level, the Tracker Card supports Google Assistant, Alexa, and Siri voice control. I tested it with Siri. Simply add a shortcut and you can ask Siri to ring your wallet instead of having to push a button on the app.
The Ekster Parliament makes a great choice if you want a minimalist wallet that looks good and makes it easy to access your cards without fumbling to through a stack of plastic. It’s not so great if you prefer cash, but at least paper currency is an option.
At $79, it’s quite reasonably priced, too. But if it were me, I wouldn’t think twice about springing for the extra $29 to get the Tracker Card for even more smart functionality and extra peace of mind.
Disclosure: Ekster provided a wallet and card for evaluation but had no input into this review.
Originally published at https://geekdad.com on June 22, 2019.