Review: Belkin Power Adapter
Over the past week, Belkin has released four iPod accessories that surprised us a little -- not for their innovation, but for their simplicity. Two of the accessories are simple iPod chargers: Belkin's Power Adapter ($25) includes a USB-to-iPod cable and a wall charger, while the Charging Kit for iPod ($35) has the same two parts and a cigarette lighter power adapter for your car. The other two are iPod docks, the Power Dock ($35) and the Power Dock AV ($50).
Though Belkin’s relatively late to market with each of these options, the ideas here are fairly obvious: go after low-priced product categories that have been dominated by Apple or Griffin, offering slightly lower prices and/or more limited features. With the Power Adapter, you get a wall charger and USB cable combination similar to Apple’s iPod USB Power Adapter, only $4 less expensive, and with slightly less impressive engineering. Belkin’s included iPod-to-USB cable only works for charging iPods, not for synchronizing data, and is marked as such with a tag. The power adapter is a bit larger than Apple’s, but still has convenient fold-up blades, and now includes a blue power LED and a silver facade.
The Charging Kit for iPod is basically the equivalent of Griffin’s previously released $40 PowerDuo Charging Kit for iPod, only minus a couple of frills. Belkin leaves out a second USB-to-mini-USB cable found in Griffin’s package, and again, its iPod-to-USB cable can only charge an iPod, not synchronize it. You pay less and you get less; Griffin’s bundle is, all considered, a better value.
Performance-wise, all of Belkin’s accessories do what they’re supposed to do. The car and home chargers charged our iPods just as they were supposed to, and the docks worked properly with both computers and TV/wall outlet combinations. Our only complaints were their limitations: thanks to the chargers’ crippled USB cables and the docks’ lack of remote features, none of these accessories is a complete rival for the best accessories we’ve seen from Belkin’s competitors. The car charging bulb is the same as low-end Chinese ones we’ve seen, with only a removable fuse, a small power light, and appropriate testing to differentiate it from the cheapest such offerings, and lack of synchronization aside, the wall power adapter doesn’t bring anything new to the table. But they are all nice-looking and functionally good enough to merit our standard-level recommendations; consider them worthwhile more on looks and basic functionality for the dollar than anything else.