Hands up if you've ever spilled a drink on a plane, bus or train. Keep your hands up if that spill has damaged your technology as a result.
Yes, my hand is currently in the air.
On a flight to New Zealand a few years ago, I managed to knock my glass of water onto the tray table, the person beside me and, worst of all, the smartphone I'd placed in my lap moments before. Despite the relatively small amount of water that hit it, that was the end of my phone right there – it never worked properly again.
As a result, when I heard about the Vector Cup Holder designed to deal with precisely this problem, I was more than happy to check it out.
Features and Design
The Vector Cup Holder is an odd-looking gadget that attaches to tray tables and other flat surfaces under 1.5” thick, into which you place your cup or glass. It consists of two main sections, the clamp and base, and an open ring that rotates and clips into place while in use.
The idea is that almost any regular-size vessel can be held securely in place, so that even turbulence or misplaced elbows can't send liquid flying everywhere.
Rubber bumpers on the clamp help prevent slipping and damage to whatever it's attached to, and the aluminum construction keeps the weight to a minimum.
Real World Testing
I used the Vector Cup Holder on several occasions – at home on a kitchen table, on a pair of lengthy bus rides and during a three hour flight. Given its somewhat sharp edges, I was a little concerned that airport security might confiscate the holder but (at least flying within Europe) that wasn't a problem.
I was impressed with how well the holder attached to every surface I tested it with. The spring-loaded clamp and rubber bumpers held steady even on slippery plastic tray tables – a solid knock would move the clamp slightly, but not enough to spill a drink or knock it off the table.
I was less impressed, however, with the thin base section of the holder. While turbulence probably wouldn't be enough to shake a cup or glass loose, it was reasonably easy to knock the lower half of a small glass in such a way that it slipped off the base and onto the floor.
In the cramped conditions we find ourselves in during economy flights, a wayward knee or hand could easily spell disaster.
Speaking of cramped conditions, it wasn't easy to find somewhere to put the Vector holder unless I had a window seat. The rest of the time, even though it's not especially large, it tended to stick awkwardly into the aisle, my leg or my neighbor's seat space.
In the end I opted for clamping it to the far side of the tray table, keeping it out of harm's way at the expense of making it more difficult to lift glasses in and out.
It was easy to fit most vessels into the holder, although some felt more stable than others. Taller, larger glasses and mugs that sat on the base and snugly inside the ring section worked best – I have some concern over the small beverage mugs and plastic glasses often used in-flight.
I wanted to like the Vector Cup Holder – it aims to solve a real problem, in a reasonably elegant device. Sadly, given the fifty dollar price tag, it's hard to recommend. A gadget that costs this much and will be used so rarely needs to be flawless, and this one isn't.
There's just too much opportunity for a cup or glass to get knocked out of the holder, and finding a spot to use it comfortably is difficult on planes, trains and buses – which is where you need it most.