I first ran into the folks at DoBox at CES in 2017. I use my iPad Pro for just about all of my computing, so when I saw that they were developing a wireless hub for the iPad, it was something I was immediately drawn to.
What Is DoBox?
DoBox was developed as a portable wireless hub for your iPhone or iPad—a way to bring the powerful connectivity of a laptop docking station to your mobile iOS devices. Here is a list of the features of DoBox:
- Connectivity: Ports for connecting other devices like an ethernet cable, hard drives, keyboards, printers, TVs, projectors, monitors, and speakers.
- Multimedia Player: Play your favorite music on any speaker, or play videos on any display or projector through HDMI. Stream your media files from its internal storage using your iPhone or iPad as a remote controller.
- Charger: 8000 mAh Lithium Polymer battery to charge your phone or tablet from USB.
- USB Hub: You can use the DoBox as a USB hub when it is turned off. Just connect a USB-C (3.1) cable to your laptop or MacBook, and you can natively use the USB ports at full speed. No need for expensive adapters!
- Storage: You can back up your photos, videos, and documents wirelessly and securely offline. DoBox has its own internal storage, two USB ports for pen drives, plus a micro SD card reader.
- Hotspot: Create a secure Wi-Fi connection from cable internet access or public hotspots. You can use DoBox as a wireless router, as well.
- File Sharing: Now you can share, copy, and manage all your music, photos, videos, and documents without restrictions among your devices and among your friends even without an internet connection.
- Free App: Manage all these features and connectivity with a free iOS app.
How Have I Been Using DoBox?
My primary use case for the DoBox is to use it while I am traveling for work. There are a couple of pain points when traveling that DoBox can help solve—power and connectivity. On the power side of things, you can use the DoBox to charge pretty much any device that charges over a USB connection. So my Apple Watch and my iPhone can be charged without me having to hunt around for an outlet in my hotel room (which is always hidden behind a bed or a large piece of furniture).
The other use (and this is a big one) for the DoBox is as a secure Wi-Fi hotspot. Hotel wireless internet is notoriously bad, but here is a secret: the wired internet is faster because you aren’t having to fight everyone on the limited wireless bandwidth. With DoBox you can connect to the hotel’s wired internet via ethernet, pull up the DoBox web browser, accept the terms and conditions for connecting to the internet, and your DoBox is now your very own personal wireless hotspot in your hotel room. But this still doesn’t make it completely secure. The connection from your wireless device to the DoBox is secure, but between the DoBox and the internet you still have the hotel’s router and their Internet Service Provider (ISP), so I still use a VPN to be safe. But in most cases, it is much faster and now you can connect as many of your devices wireless to the internet through your DoBox hotspot as you want without having to worry about hitting a device limit on the hotel Wi-Fi. For someone that travels with a work laptop, an iPhone, and an iPad, being able to set up a wireless hub and only having to configure hotel Wi-Fi once is a huge win!
The last use I had for my DoBox was a quick way to take a look at footage from my HD bicycle handlebar camera from the microSD card, as the DoBox has a built-in MicroSD card reader.
DoBox performed extremely well for all of the use cases I described above, except for viewing video off of the microSD card. The software on the DoBox was slow to load up the video file before it would play. I reached out to DoBox and they said they will be updating the software to use VLC, which will dramatically speed up that process.
One feature I wanted to be able to use right away was the ability to connect DoBox to a hotel room TV and stream iTunes movies and TV shows from my iPad to the TV. While DoBox can currently do this with any non-DRM videos you store locally on the DoBox, it can’t (at least not yet) stream iTunes videos stored on your iOS device to a TV. This is another feature that will be coming soon. One other drawback, for now, is that the USB-C port is for connectivity only and is not available to charge devices through (charging is only currently available through the 2 USB ports). But again, DoBox will be pushing out a firmware update soon that will enable USB-C charging. DoBox has another new feature in the works to called DoBox Connect. It is currently a beta app, and it allows you to control your Mac remotely with your iPad/iPhone and your DoBox.
If you really only need one or two of the features described above, then you are probably better off buying dedicated adapters and devices for those purposes. But that is not who DoBox was designed for. Where DoBox brings its value is with the wide variety of utilities that it brings in a single package. Power iOS users will really appreciate being able to utilize all of the capabilities that DoBox offers without having to buy many hundreds of dollars worth of dongles and devices and then having to carry around all of those individual items. Now you can just pack your DoBox and leave the dongles and external battery charges at home!
DoBox is available now for $199 in the 32GB configuration and $239 for 64GB of internal storage from the DoBox website and on amazon.com. DoBox is also in the process of bringing out a smaller version of the DoBox called the DoBox Mini, which you can check out over at Indiegogo.
Disclaimer: DoBox provided me with a 32GB review unit for the purpose of this review, but did not have any input into the review.