Model: Universal AC Adapter
Price:$28.00 (+ shipping), Available at shop.vinko.com
Compatible: iPod 3G, 4G, iPod mini, iPod photo
Capdase Universal AC Adapter for iPod Series
Pros: Reasonably priced world travel charger for full-sized iPods, iPod minis and photos, with support for wall charging in a solid collection of foreign countries. Can be used to charge iPods that don’t include their own wall chargers.
Cons: Though domestically available overseas for less than Apple’s iPod Power Adapters, may be more expensive when imported outside of Hong Kong.
Three months ago, Capdase’s Universal AC Adapter for iPod Series (approx. $28.00 plus shipping) would have been only marginally useful to new iPod owners, but its value shot up dramatically once Apple dropped wall chargers from the boxes of its popular iPod minis. Suddenly there’s a greater need for third-party iPod AC adapters, and Capdase fulfills that need - and more.
The Universal AC Adapter includes four components: first is a matte white rounded power box that vaguely resembles Apple’s glossy iPod USB and FireWire Power Adapters, permanently attached to a six-foot cable with an unlicensed iPod Dock Connector at the other end. On one side of the power box, there’s a single amber light that indicates that it’s plugged in and working, as well as a small Capdase logo. Some users will attach one of the four included face plates to the box, plug it into the wall, connect an iPod, and toss the rest of the plates into the closet without using them.
But that would miss part of the Universal AC Adapter’s appeal. The other side of the power box includes a large sticker that shows the various international electricity standards the Adapter has been tested and certified for: it’s capable of automatically switching between voltages from 100 to 240V (50/60Hz), and uses a spring-loaded mechanism to attach to any face plates sized to fit power outlets in a number of different countries. United States, Canadian, Continental European, United Kingdom, Australian and New Zealand, Japanese, Chinese, Taiwanese, Hong Kong and Singaporean users (among others) will find the adapters they need in the box, and the Adapter therefore works as a travel charger for all of these countries as well.
Consequently, what Capdase gives you is more than what you get with Apple’s $29 iPod Power Adapter. Since Capdase includes an integrated cable, you won’t need to remove the Apple cable you keep connected to your computer or buy a second one ($19). New iPod mini users in particular may appreciate the added convenience, given that Apple no longer includes the Adapter or a second cable in the box. And the Universal AC Adapter also overlaps Apple’s separate $39 World Travel Adapter Kit, which includes adapters to let the iPod Power Adapter work overseas. They’re not identical, since Apple includes a couple of extra adapters, but the Capdase kit is still a very good value by comparison if you want to visit any of the countries listed above.
Our testing of the Universal AC Adapter was limited to use in the United States, but we found that it perfectly charged each of the iPods we connected to it: two generations of iPod mini, a 4G iPod, and an iPod photo worked without issues, as Capdase says they would, and we also found that it properly charged a test 3G iPod that the company didn’t list as supported. Capdase’s spring-loaded mechanism made it easy to insert and remove face plates, and we found no defects in the product’s construction: everything looked and worked well.
The only problem is finding the Universal AC Adapter for the $28 price mentioned above. It’s from a Hong Kong-based company, and though Hong Kong locals will be able to pick it up inexpensively, others will likely have to cough up $40 including international shipping costs. If that’s the case, many U.S.-based customers would sooner go to a local store, pay Apple $29 for a standard adapter, and use the cable or cables they already own.
If your iPod didn’t come with a wall charger and you are considering domestic or international travel, you’ll be most likely to find Capdase’s Universal AC Adapter a worthwhile purchase - even including shipping expenses. Otherwise, you’ll probably prefer to pay less for an Apple or other third-party iPod wall charger, even though the total value proposition of Capdase’s offering is substantially higher. Now all Capdase needs to do is get these into U.S. stores at an attractive price; if Apple keeps pulling pack-ins from iPod boxes, cheap third-party wall chargers could become very popular. Bump our rating up to an A- if you can find it for the same price as Apple’s Adapter.
Jeremy Horwitz is Editor-in-Chief of iLounge.