Let's discuss the $600 mega cooler that just hit crowdfunding

Now up for preorder on Indiegogo, the Infinite Cooler comes with a built-in blender, wireless phone charger and color-changing LED lights. But is it too good to be true?

Ry Crist
Originally hailing from Troy, Ohio, Ry Crist is a writer, a text-based adventure connoisseur, a lover of terrible movies and an enthusiastic yet mediocre cook. A CNET editor since 2013, Ry's beats include smart home tech, lighting, appliances, broadband and home networking.
Ry Crist
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Meet the Infinite Cooler

Four years after the Coolest Cooler racked up over $13 million in crowdfunding cash only to leave some backers cold by failing to deliver, a new fancy schmancy mega cooler packed with bells and whistles wants to do better. At a retail price of $600, it certainly won't come cheap, but early-bird backers on Indiegogo can claim one for a pledge of $229, plus an extra $50 for shipping.

For now, let's scroll through and take a look at all the bells and whistles this new cooler contender is promising.

Read more: The best coolers you can buy this summer

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First, the features

Infinite calls its cooler a Swiss Army knife for weekend camping trips and backyard barbecues, and looking over the specs, it's hard to argue with that. Features like the blender attachment and built-in wireless phone charger seem like they'd be nice to have on hand -- but do we really need a cooler with touchscreen controls and an HD camera?

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Let's look at the lid

One interesting design note: The lid, which includes six cup holders and a wireless charging dock for your phone, is split down the center. You'll open it like a set of French doors, which is a little unusual in cooler design.

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Performance implications

I do wonder if that split-lid design will affect performance by adding an extra seam up top for cold air to escape through. It's worth noting, however, that the interior is split, too, which means that the seam is over the divider and not empty space. That could help.

Even if there is a performance trade-off, there are practical benefits to the design. Like the picture shows, the split lid lets you open the cooler while the blender or phone charger is in use. Plus, a split interior makes it easy to keep dry ingredients separate from your ice if needed.

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Charge it up

As for the wireless charging dock, you'll obviously need a phone capable of taking advantage of it. If not, the cooler comes with standard USB ports, too.

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Juice on the go

Just be sure to charge the cooler's 20,000 mAh battery ahead of your trip!

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Wheels down

The other design point of note: The Infinite Cooler is wheeled, and includes a telescoping handle to help you lug it around like a suitcase. Bungee some of your camping gear to the top for a handy way to move things around.

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Infinite's team says the cooler can handle rugged terrain and even sand, but I'm a little skeptical. For one, the wheels look to be made of plastic, which is fine for a dirt path but not the greatest for the beach (a more rugged option with inflatable rubber wheels, like the Rovr Rollr 60 wheeled cooler, would almost certainly fare better).

Also potentially telling: From the looks of the sand in the promo shot above (and the cleanliness of the wheels), it doesn't appear that the Infinite Cooler was wheeled into frame.

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Bottle opener

One feature I harbor zero skepticism toward: the built-in bottle opener. It's a no-brainer feature and I wish every cooler came with one, but to date, I've only tested one other model that includes it, the Lifetime High Performance Cooler.

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As for the blender attachment, it docks over the top of the wireless charging cradle, and provides up to 550W worth of blending power. Infinite says it's great for grinding coffee, too.

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LED lights

On the front underside of the lid, you'll find a bank of LED lights. The look is a little more high-tech than most campers are probably used to, but it seems useful -- provided the downward-angled design lights up more than just the dirt immediately in front of the thing.

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Color, too

Excuse me, I meant to say "color-changing" LED lights. Because why not?

Oh, and if you're worried about leaving a cooler with LED lights, charge ports, and touch controls out where it might get exposed to the element, know that the Infinite Cooler has an ingress protection (IP) rating of IP56, which means that it can withstand jets of water sprayed at it with no adverse effects. In other words, it can handle the rain.

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Worth your cold, hard cash?

The real question: Can this cooler deliver, and can the Infinite Cooler avoid the same infamy that befell the Coolest Cooler that came before it? That remains to be seen, though the campaign's creators point to their decades of combined experience in production engineering and manufacturing support in both the outdoor goods and electronics sectors. That's somewhat reassuring.

Infinite also tells us deliveries are slated to start at the end of 2018, with early bird backers receiving their coolers first and the rest of the coolers going out the following April. The campaign is also promising to provide regular updates along the way, as well as full transparency into the manufacturing process.

"[We] are absolutely committed to delivering to backers before any retail or the rest of the public have access to the product," an Infinite Cooler spokesperson adds. "[We] are very aware of the problems past campaigns have had with this and do not want to repeat that."

As with all crowdfunding campaigns, pledging your money doesn't guarantee that the creators will deliver their product on time, or at all, even. For now, Infinite's team seems committed to getting it right, but as always, caveat emptor.

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