Trova Go review: A stylish travel lockbox that needs work

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in iPhone
Trova Go is a sleek, portable lockbox used to store small items at home and on the go. Unfortunately, its usefulness is hindered by lackluster software and a strange charging hardware decision.

Trova Go in the wild
Trova Go in the wild


The security industry doesn't have a history of being stylish. No one lusts after a safe, lockbox, or security pouch. They're purpose-driven devices with tough, rugged designs that don't obfuscate their purpose.

Trova is charting a different path by designing a high-end luxury item that will protect your valuables.

The Trova Go is the smaller of Trova's offerings and is intended for both home use and on the go. Its interior compartment is small -- but large enough to hold some everyday essentials.

Like many Apple devices, Trova Go is crafted with an aluminum exterior. It has flat sides with a ridge running the length of both the top and the bottom. There is no physical release button, no keypad, nothing aside from a small light and the charging port.

Connected with your iPhone

The Trova Go sort-of charges over USB-C. But, the device can only be powered by a USB-A to USB-C charging cable.

Charge via a USB-C to USB-A cable
Charge via a USB-C to USB-A cable


We had to ask about this. When we did, the company told us that when the current-generation hardware was developed, USB-C had not fully caught on, and the chipset they chose to use did not support USB-C PD.

This is a baffling claim to us, as USB-PD chipsets have been available for about seven years.

Trova also said that future versions would correct this issue. This can't be retroactive to the first generation because of those hardware design choices.

Unlock via Face ID
Unlock via Face ID


To gain access to your Trova Go, you need the Trova companion app. You open the app, tap your Trova, and verify your identity with the onboard biometrics, whether Face ID or Touch ID. Trova Go connects to your iPhone via Bluetooth, so it must be within range for this to work.

Trova disconnect notice on Apple Watch
Trova disconnect notice on Apple Watch


If you walk away from the item, a disconnect alert will appear on your phone. Unfortunately, this isn't all that useful.

When the device goes to sleep, it seems to disconnect from our iPhone, causing a disconnect alert to appear. This happens too quickly and doesn't reestablish a connection. So if you do leave it behind at some point later, the disconnection location won't be accurate.

This would be a great product to integration Apple Find My into. We'd love to see it displayed in the Find My app, had real left behind alerts, and play an audible tone. Unfortunately, this isn't available with Trova Go.

Status light and USB-C port of the Trova Go
Status light and USB-C port of the Trova Go


HomeKit would also be welcomed, allowing you to more quickly unlock the box from the Home app, the Control Center widget, or Siri.

At a minimum, it would be great to unlock the Trova Go with Apple Watch. Apple Watch authenticates when put on your wrist, and it would be simple to tie it into a Home Screen complication. If Apple trusts Apple Watch for payments without additional biometrics or passcodes, Trova should too.

What can you store in the Trova Go?

When we first saw the Trova Go, our first thought was "won't somebody just take the box?" A few weeks into trying the device, we've come around and are now believers -- at least as it pertains to this particular complaint.

Keeping our watch in the Trova Go
Keeping our watch in the Trova Go


The inauspicious design of the Trova is purposeful. Trova told us that the first layer of security is hiding in plain sight. Anyone who sees the Trova Go is likely to assume it's a battery pack rather than a miniature safe.

We held a quick, unscientific study asking friends and family what they thought the device was, and almost everyone said battery pack. Not a soul guessed it was hiding our valuables inside.

If no one knows what it is, they're less likely to try and pilfer it.

Beyond its innocuous appearance, there are many other benefits to the Trova Go. At home, it may be a safe place to tuck away a small amount of medical marijuana, your lesser-used credit cards, or medicine.

The same goes for daily travel where you may be taking those items with you. Trova Go adds additional protection with minimal bulk.

Ready for a weekend trip
Ready for our weekend trip


In ours, we could store a watch, a few credit cards, some cash, our wedding ring (while we sported our silicone one), and the Sidecar box.

The Sidecar box is a sleeper hit here, becoming so popular that Trova started offering it as a standalone item. It has a divider in the center, allowing you to organize your prescriptions for the weekend or a small portion of medical marijuana you may need.

Should you buy the Trova Go?

We're torn on the Trova Go. We adore the hardware. Its svelte appearance, premium materials, and ease of use make this a great accessory to own. But the app falls short, with woeful disconnection alerts and tracking abilities.

Trova Go could be a slam dunk. It's nailed that luxury look. It just needs to iterate on the software and consider tying into some of Apple's features.

Trova Go
Trova Go


That doesn't preclude us from recommending the Trova Go, however. It still serves a purpose and is quite useful for its storage abilities. It has an Apple-esque design that has plenty of fans.

But, that decision about how to charge it is baffling.

Trova Go Pros
  • Fantastic industrial design

  • Well-organized interior

  • Bundled Sidecar box is very helpful

  • Compact enough for travel, but also good at home

  • Easy to use with companion app and biometrics

  • Plenty of potential
Trova Go Cons
  • Poor tracking ability outside of disconnection notifications

  • Magnetic ring latch isn't strong enough

  • Would benefit from Apple Watch app, Find My support, and HomeKit

  • Need to use USB-C to USB-A cable

Rating: 3 out of 5

Where to buy

Pick up the Trova Go on Amazon for $209

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 8
    I wonder if it will survive the LockPickingLawyer test.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 8
    Andrew_OSUAndrew_OSU Posts: 531member, editor
    macseeker said:
    I wonder if it will survive the LockPickingLawyer test.
    Well... two things. First, there is nothing to pick. There is no keyhole, no pinhole, no physical means of entry. So nothing to "pick" per se.

    But otherwise, this isn't intended to be impenetrable. If someone grabs this and runs off, they'll be able to smash it open or force it open one way or another. It's more helpful to provide basic security while out, hiding stuff in plain sight, or extra protection in your home. 

    For more security, the company also has a larger home version that can be bolted down like a traditional safe.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 8
    mfrydmfryd Posts: 142member
    My concern is that it looks like an external battery pack.   That's something likely to be stolen.  It's useful to the thief, easy to resell, and inexpensive enough that no one will make a federal case out of it when they find it missing.

    They would have been much better off making it look like a book.  In today's world, no one steals physical books.

    patchythepiratewatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 8
    I am looking for a safe I can lock and unlock with my phone. Any ideas?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 8
    macseeker said:
    I wonder if it will survive the LockPickingLawyer test.
    Well... two things. First, there is nothing to pick. There is no keyhole, no pinhole, no physical means of entry. So nothing to "pick" per se.

    But otherwise, this isn't intended to be impenetrable. If someone grabs this and runs off, they'll be able to smash it open or force it open one way or another. It's more helpful to provide basic security while out, hiding stuff in plain sight, or extra protection in your home. 

    For more security, the company also has a larger home version that can be bolted down like a traditional safe.
    Yeah, but he has shown other ways to open locks.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 8
    This just looks like e-waste to me. Is there really a market for this at $200?
  • Reply 7 of 8
    fred1fred1 Posts: 946member
    The problem of someone running away with it could have been solved by two holes in the bottom that you can use to bolt it to a wall, floor, etc.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 8
    From the pictures, I'd expect LockPickingLawyer to first try an attack against that pitiful latch with a thin metal shim. Alternatively, he might try a strong magnet to move the latch. 

    As an IT security professional, the USB charging issue suggests the electronics were poorly engineered and built cheap, so I wouldn't bet against flaws in the Bluetooth protocol, or some way to abuse the charging port to cause the device to unlock. 

    And, of course, if the attacker doesn't care about damaging the safe, a Dremel tool will take care of that aluminum shell in short order.

    If this shows up on Meh.com for $15 it might be half-reasonable. At $209? You could buy a lot of $20 locking cash boxes with probably equivalent security for that money. Sure, they don't unlock with your phone, but is that worth ten times the price?
    watto_cobra
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