Welcome to Travel Non-Essentials, where T+L editors Mark Orwoll and Nikki Ekstein sound off on a different breed of travel product—sometimes ingenious, sometimes just plain odd. Today: the Vector Cup Holder.
What It Does: The Vector Cup Holder ($50) is a flat-folding, 3.5-ounce cup holder made of high-grade aluminum that attaches to a desk or airline tray table up to 1.5 inches thick to prevent spills while using your computer. Orwoll and Ekstein check it out to decide if it’s a must-have, or just a nice-to-have.
MO: The first thing I noticed about the Vector Cup Holder is the packaging. I mean, this is really slick. It’s like something Apple would do—if they did cup holders. Very simple, clean design. When you first hold it, it’s hard to realize what it is or how it works, but all you do is pull out the actual cup holder section, turn it to a 90-degree angle, and it slides back in. Then you just open the pressure clamp and clip it to the side of your table. You could use it on an airplane so you could have a beverage and at the same time use your laptop on the tray table, so you don’t have to share the tray table with a laptop and a drink.
NE: The clamp seems like a very intuitive design feature. But the way the cup holder turns out—it kind of stumped me a little bit.
MO: Fortunately they do have steps one, two, and three printed right on the back of the box.
NE: I find it kind of hilarious that a cup holder would need numbered instructions for use. But my gut reaction is that I’d be terrified to walk through TSA security with this. Imagine how that would look in an X-ray. That’s a sharp point right there. That’s a very questionable metal object.
MO: I think it would be great on an aisle or window seat— maybe not in the middle—though the website shows many users attaching it to the back of their trays, between the tray and the seat in front of them, in a way that doesn’t invade anyone’s space. The other thing is that you could use this at home too. I have some expensive music recording equipment, and I’m always worried about spilling a drink on it. So this has uses beyond just travel. Use it at Starbucks while you’re writing the Great American Novel. If the TSA doesn’t have any objections to this in your carry-on luggage, well, it’s beautifully designed and serves a good purpose.
NE: I’ll agree that it’s enough of a challenge just to fit your laptop on a tray table, let alone a laptop and a beverage. But after my husband’s collar stays nearly caused us to miss a flight—the TSA thought they were bullets—I’m just not going to risk sticking that thing through security. Call me paranoid?
Note: We checked with Vector Werks about airline security issues. A spokesman said they haven’t received any complaints that users have been stopped or even questioned at TSA security checkpoints because of the cup holder.