In theory, when it comes to travel accessories, multi-purpose gadgets are a great idea. Combine two or more useful features into a single device, for less bulk in your suitcase and fewer things to lose.
Not every combination works, however. You’ll often end up with a gadget that does several things badly instead of one thing well, weighs too much, and cuts corners on the construction to try to fit in all those extras at a reasonable price.
Oaxis has taken two quite different travel problems – luggage weight limits and gadgets that run out of juice – and combined them into the AirScale. Is it genuinely useful for travelers, or another one of those good ideas that doesn’t cut it in reality?
Features and Specifications
The unit is a solid black cylinder, weighing a little over 5oz, and measuring five inches long, an inch high, and 1.7 inches wide. Controls are simple – one button turns the scale on and switches between metric and imperial units, the other shows the amount of charge left in the battery.
A standard USB socket sits at one end, rated to 2.4amps for speedy charging of most phones and tablets. Alongside lies a micro-USB socket, used with the included cable (or any other you have lying around) to charge the 6500mAh internal battery.
A digital readout shows either the remaining charge as a percentage or the weight of the luggage you’re measuring. The screen is invisible when not in use, a nice touch that makes the Aircase look noticeably sleeker.
The bottom of the unit has a small inset section, used to attach the weighing strap that’s included in the packaging. It can handle anything up to 88 pounds / 40kg, well over the maximum single bag allowance for any airline.
Unpacking the Airscale only took a few seconds. As well as the scale and strap, there was a soft drawstring bag to keep the two parts together. The internal battery sat at a little over 80% when it arrived.
The size and weight of the unit are comparable to portable batteries of a similar capacity. It’s small enough to slide into the front pocket of a pair of jeans, alongside a charging cable, if you’re heading out for the day.
When charging a phone or tablet, part of the battery indicator flashes to let you know it’s working. Oaxis has sensibly opted for relatively dim red LEDs, rather than the eye-searing white or blue that make many similar gadgets unusable in darkened rooms. When the cable is connected, the unit switches on and starts charging automatically.
It took five hours to charge an Android tablet from dead flat to 80% full and used sixty percent of the Airscale’s own battery to do it. When powering a phone, I got two full charges out of it, with around 15% left in reserve.
The scales came into their own prior to an international flight, where I’d opted to take just a carry-on bag and knew I was close to my weight limit. The strap mechanism worked surprisingly well. A hook-like section slotted into the inset on the bottom, with the main part of the strap then looping through one of the case’s handles and clipping back into itself.
Despite the case weighing around 20 pounds, I had no problem lifting it off the ground, suspended from the AirScale. The digital readout took a couple of seconds to stabilize, then locked onto an exact reading.
To see how it would handle heavier loads, I tested it with a backpack stuffed completely full of clothes, shoes, and electronics. The bag weighed close to forty pounds, but as long as it was suspended from somewhere near its center, there was no problem using the AirScale to lift it a few inches off the ground.
I’ve been unimpressed by many multi-purpose gadgets in the past, but Oaxis is onto a winner with this one. As airlines reduce luggage allowances and clamp down on overweight bags like never before, personal luggage scales are becoming an increasingly worthwhile investment. With some airlines, avoiding a single checked bag fee could pay for the Airscale by itself.
It’s sleek and well-designed, charging electronics and weighing bags just as well as a dedicated battery or scale. Small enough to drop in a day bag or stuff in a pocket, and useful enough to justify taking on any trip, it’s a worthwhile travel accessory that has now replaced my usual portable battery when traveling. Recommended.