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Quirky Porkfolio review: Quirky packed its piggy bank with plenty of charm

If you read one CNET review of a piggy bank, make it this one.

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Ry Crist
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Ry Crist

Senior Editor / Reviews - Appliances

Originally hailing from Troy, Ohio, Ry Crist is 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, and home networking.

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"The Internet of Things" is an admittedly broad term, so I suppose we shouldn't be too surprised to see a connected piggy bank. That's exactly the "Thing" that Quirky's offering with the Porkfolio: a smart, Wi-Fi-enabled coin collector capable of tracking your savings on your phone. It even has its own channel on IFTTT.

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7.2

Quirky Porkfolio

The Good

The Quirky Porkfolio counts your coins as promised and boasts one of the best smart home apps that we've seen.

The Bad

Not all of the features worked, and some seemed a bit silly anyways.

The Bottom Line

Novelty factor aside, at less than $50, the kid-friendly Porkfolio feels like a justifiable splurge -- and a good gift, too.

If you just rolled your eyes or breathed a heavy sigh, I hear you. The $50 Porkfolio certainly seems less like a smart home necessity than a solution in search of a problem. And yet, unlike the equally unnecessary Quirky Egg Minder , the Porkfolio takes its frivolity in stride. There's just enough charm and basic usefulness packed into this pig to keep you more or less happy with it -- and it carries some unique, kid-friendly appeal, too. If you're looking for a lighthearted smart-home novelty for your 7-year-old nephew (or perhaps your inner 7-year-old), I think you could honestly do a whole lot worse than this.

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Colin West McDonald/CNET

Some pig

If the Porkfolio's cute design doesn't immediately win you over, give it some time. The blunt-nosed guy has been sitting on my desk at work for about a week now, staring at me with dimpled eyes even as I type this sentence, and I have to admit: I've grown a little fond of the thing. I know, I know. A year spent critiquing repetitive stainless steel designs and boring, white-plastic-bodied gadgets has made me particularly susceptible to a little pink porker with a few ounces' worth of personality.

If pink isn't to your tastes, the Porkfolio also comes in white or black. All three versions are made from thick, rubbery plastic, making it feel very much like a toy. As a smart-home gadget geared towards kids, that's a design choice that makes plenty of sense. To this end, you can even rotate the head and the limbs, which switches the pig between lying on its back and sprawling out on its belly.

Quirky's Porkfolio brings home the bacon (pictures)

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To get started with the Porkfolio, you'll need to download the free Wink app to your Android or iOS device, then follow the onscreen instructions. If you don't have a Wink Hub , don't worry -- you don't need one in order to use the Porkfolio.

You'll pull a tab inside the Porkfolio's belly to activate a built-in battery. The pig's nose will begin to flash (it also lights up for every coin you deposit). When prompted in the app, you'll touch the nose to your phone's screen. The screen will flash a code at the Porkfolio, telling it your Wi-Fi information, and voila, you'll have connected your piggy bank to the cloud.

That's the same connection trick that Quirky uses for other Wink-powered products, including the Quirky Aros , the Quirky Pivot Power Genius , and the Quirky Spotter . For the most part, it's a pretty easy way of getting things synced up, although on occasion, I've needed to flash my phone at my device more than once to get it to work.

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Screenshots by Ry Crist/CNET

From there, this smart piggy bank works more or less like any other piggy bank -- you put coins in the slot, and it hangs onto them until you're ready to take them out and dash off to the nearest bank or Coinstar machine. The difference, of course, is that you'll be able to track just how much coin you've collected in the Wink app.

As we've noted in earlier reviews, Wink has one of the better-looking smart home apps we've come across. The design is fun, playful, and befitting a product like the Porkfolio. Front and center is the piggy's face (he'll wiggle his nose a bit and blink at you, which is a nice little touch). Tap his nose, and you'll be able to change the colors that shine whenever you deposit a coin.

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The pig's nose lights up whenever you make a deposit. Ry Crist/CNET

Above the image of the pig's face, you'll see how your stash totals up. Below, you'll be able to set a savings goal and graph your progress. You'll also be able to tell the Porkfolio how much you're taking out whenever you make a withdrawal, which you'll need to do if you want to keep the total accurate.

The Porkfolio tracks your savings using a clever, spring-loaded mechanism in the top slot. Push a coin through, and it'll push the spring out of the way. This lets the Porkfolio know how big the coin is, which is how it figures out what sort of coin you're putting in.

For the most part, this works perfectly well. In my tests, there was never more than a second or so between putting a coin in and seeing the total go up in the app. Still, it isn't foolproof. Put a coin in at an angle, or push it a few extra millimeters against the spring by mistake, and you might fool the Porkfolio into thinking it's bigger than it actually is. I was repeatedly able to trick it into thinking a penny was a nickel, for instance, although I needed to make a conscious effort to do so.

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A spring mechanism in the Porkfolio's slot tells it what kind of coin you're putting into it. Colin West McDonald/CNET

Another problem with this design is that the Porkfolio can only handle one coin at a time. Slide two coins in side-by-side, and the spring mechanism will only read it as a single coin. This gets tedious if you're transferring an entire jar's worth of quarters into the thing, but for the most part, it's a small quibble.

To get to your loot, you'll remove a plug on the bottom of the bank. Inside, there's an annoyingly inclined ridge around the rim of the opening that keeps the coins from falling out naturally, so you'll need to do a fair deal of shaking to get them out, and probably fish around with your finger for those last few pennies.

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You can set the Porkfolio to alert you if someone flips it over to get at your loot. Colin West McDonald/CNET

Smart features

Aside from tracking how much money you're putting into it, the Porkfolio will alert you when it's running low on batteries. You can also set it to alert you if someone moves the bank, or if it gets flipped upside down. I couldn't get the movement alerts to work at all, but the upside down alerts came through like clockwork each and every time.

Upside-down alerts might sound like a rather pointless feature, but I could see it coming in handy as a sneaky way for parents to know if their kid is jumping the gun on their nest egg, or perhaps as a means for the kid in question to catch a thieving sibling red-handed.

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Tap the pig's nose, and you'll be able to change the color of the Porkfolio's LEDs. You'll find additional settings beyond the main screen. Screenshots by Ry Crist/CNET

I also enjoyed the way the nose lit up whenever I put a coin in, and appreciated that I could customize the color of the light in the app. You can't program the lights in any other way, though, and that seems like a wasted opportunity. For instance, why not have the lights change to green after surpassing a savings goal? To red when the battery is low?

Another strange omission is that the Wink app won't notify you when you've hit your savings goal. An automatic congratulatory alert seems like a no-brainer, but you won't get anything of the sort. Instead, you're forced to turn to the Porkfolio's IFTTT channel, and while it's easy to enough to program an IFTTT alert on your phone or elsewhere whenever your balance rises above a certain point, this still feels like a feature that belongs in the Wink app itself.

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It was difficult to come up with a useful IFTTT recipe with the Porkfolio. Screenshots by Ry Crist/CNET

Speaking of that IFTTT channel, it's a little bit sparse, which isn't surprising considering that we're talking about a piggy bank. You'll have access to two "If This" triggers: "money added" and "balance rises above." Both of these are just what they sound like -- the first triggers your action of choice whenever you deposit a coin, the second triggers an action once you've cleared a certain balance.

The balance trigger makes sense for the aforementioned time-to-raid-the-piggy-bank-and-go-buy-a-video-game alert, but the money added trigger seems less useful. I suppose you could set up a recipe to let you know how high your balance has risen whenever you deposit coins, but the constant stream of updates seems like it would get old fast -- and besides, isn't that what the app is for?

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Ry Crist/CNET

The bottom line

Frivolity is forgivable if the product in question doesn't take itself too seriously, and that's probably the most important thing the Porkfolio gets right. It isn't trying to be a smart-home game changer. It's just a place to put your coins that's slightly more functional -- and slightly more fun -- than that old mason jar you keep on top of your dresser.

Absolutely no one needs a Porkfolio -- but I couldn't blame you for being charmed into wanting one. At $50 (or less if you can catch it on sale, which doesn't seem particularly difficult to do), it isn't a purchase that'll sting too badly at checkout. Most importantly, it's just fun enough to warrant regular use, which might make it a good way to teach an app-savvy kid about budgeting and saving -- or a good way to keep you collecting loose change until you can afford to splurge on some other silly gadget.

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7.2

Quirky Porkfolio

Score Breakdown

Features 7Usability 6Design 8Performance 8