Review: Apple Computer iPod USB Power Adapter (9/2006)
Pros: A smaller (1.75” square) version of Apple’s prior iPod USB Power Adapter, now including its own iPod-to-USB cable, enabling you to recharge your iPod from any wall outlet. Small size and great looks improve nicely on earlier version without compromising use of optional international wall blades.
Cons: Numerous similarly-priced alternatives provide the same functionality; leading option is 1/3 less expensive.
Though most of Apple Computer’s focus last week was on the debut of new iPods, it also unexpectedly announced updates to two classic iPod accessories - its packed-in Apple iPod Earphones and its iPod USB Power Adapter ($29). For years, Apple’s been selling 2.25” square iPod Power Adapters, originally in a Firewire version packed-in with most iPods, then in a virtually identical USB version for Firewire-less iPods and the iPod shuffle, sold separately. These adapters have matched the company’s larger notebook computer chargers in style, and used interchangeable wall blades - sold only as an optional package - to let you charge your iPod in foreign countries. Price aside, no one’s really complained about these Adapters, which looked good and worked well.
The new iPod USB Power Adapter offers two reasons to get excited. Apple’s shrunk the square to 1.75” on each side, preserving the slightly greater than 1” thickness solely to preserve compatibility with its international wall blade kit. Though a half-inch difference per side mightn’t seem like much on paper, the new Adapter looks and feels certifiably better, now only slightly wider than an iPod nano and still under twice the thickness of a 60GB or 80GB full-sized iPod. As packable as its predecessor was, this one’s even more so.
Size aside, another big advantage of the new iPod USB Power Adapter is the second item that comes in its box - a spare iPod-to-USB cable. In the past, Apple left these cables out of all of its accessory boxes, preferring to sell them separately at a staggering $19 price. You still won’t find the cables in other Apple accessory boxes, and they’re shorter by around half a foot than the cables packaged with most Griffin Technology charging accessories, but at least Apple now includes one here without added cost.
Not surprisingly, the Adapter does its one and only job properly. You plug it into the wall, and the iPod-to-USB cable or iPod shuffle/shuffle Dock directly into its USB port, and the iPod’s battery safely recharges. We tested the Adapter with new and old iPods, nanos, and the shuffle, and all worked without incident. Recharging times vary from iPod to iPod, but unlike unlicensed third-party chargers that can be had for much less, Apple’s Adapter is guaranteed not to damage your iPod’s battery, and we’ve never had a problem using any of the past Apple Adapters, either.
There’s one and only one reason the new iPod USB Power Adapter doesn’t score our high recommendation: at $29, there’s little reason to prefer it to equally functional, properly tested chargers by companies such as Griffin Technology and Logiix, which can often be found for lower prices; similarly, cute factor aside, it offers nothing you can’t get from Sonnet’s $10 cheaper iPod USB Power Charger (iLounge rating: A-). Though better than the prior model, the new iPod USB Power Adapter is yet another Apple accessory we’d recommend highly if only it was a bit less expensive; thankfully, you have plenty of other good alternatives.