Company: Newer Technology
Model: Charge & Sync+
Compatible: Dock Connecting iPods, iPhone/3G/3GS
Newer Technology NuPower Charge & Sync+
In the strictest technical sense of the word, Newer Technology's NuPower Charge & Sync+ ($40) isn't the "first" combination wall charger and battery set we've seen for iPods and iPhones -- Griffin Technology previously released PowerJolt Reserve at the same price -- but its implementation is novel, and if not universally better, it's going to be equivalently appealing to a slightly different crowd.
The idea here is to combine a power adapter with a battery and a Dock Connector cable, stuffing all three parts into a very compact, roughly 2.3” by 2.88” by 0.75” glossy white plastic shell. Cable included, it’s the smallest such item we’re aware of that’s fully capable of charging an iPod or iPhone with or without the benefit of a currently available wall outlet; you switch between battery power and wall power by pressing a little button on the unit’s side. Newer Technology also includes two additional cables, one for mini-USB devices and the other for micro-USB devices, and you can have any one of the three total cables connected to NuPower Charge & Sync+ at a given time, wrapping its black wire around the accessory’s edge and storing its tip in a compartment on the back.
To be completely fair in discussing NuPower’s pros and cons, Newer Technology’s implementation of some of these features isn’t totally perfect. The black wrap-around wire works well, but has to make a hard turn to get into the aforementioned compartment, and if the cable’s going to fray, that’ll be where it happens. This compartment is, regrettably, a pop-off piece that could benefit from a hinge rather than just fully detaching from the body. And the battery that’s inside isn’t super heavy-duty: in our testing, we found that it had just enough power to nearly recharge an iPhone 3G once. Nearly.
But some perspective is required here: even finding a way to stuff all of these things into a casing so small is a pretty major accomplishment. NuPower’s 1400mAh battery has nearly three times the capacity of the cell found in Griffin’s PowerJolt Reserve, Newer Technology includes cables that Griffin doesn’t, and the fact that everything—wall blades, Dock Connector tip, and battery—folds inside is a real boon for space-strapped travelers. If it wasn’t for the fact that Apple has shrunk its own cable- and battery-less wall adapters down to tiny nubs, the feat would be even more impressive: NuPower’s total volume is around as small as the original wall adapters Apple included with iPods, and sold for years thereafter. Moreover, the cables it uses are all half-height USB connectors on one end, so you can plug them into a computer for synchronization purposes, too. They’re short and thus somewhat less than ideal for home syncing use, but for connection to a laptop on the road, they work in a pinch.
Overall, NuPower Charge & Sync+ offers extremely good value, and we feel that it’s deserving of our high recommendation: a standout on features for the price, making wall and battery charging easy, while adding sync options via smart little detachable cables. If having a smaller and lower capacity battery pack with similar wall charging functionality is appealing, PowerJolt Reserve offers another nice option, but Charge & Sync’s compact profile is even better for travelers who really need to keep everything together in a tiny space.