Review: Sonnet iPod USB Power Adapter
Pros: A reliable iPod wall charger with two components - a small USB charging bulb with flip-open wall blades, and an iPod-to-USB cable that can be used for charging or data. Lower priced than similar products by major competitors.
Cons: Though compatible with international power standards, doesn’t include international wall adapters.
There’s no use waxing philosophical about iPod wall chargers: they are essentially commodities at this point, with predictable prices and features. Options released so far almost always fall into two price categories ($20 or $30), and differ only in a few specifics. Some come with detachable iPod-to-computer cables, some include international wall adapters, and rarely, you’ll see one at a higher price with a small twist, such as a way to use the charger in a car, like Incase’s $50 Charger (iLounge rating: B).
Sonnet’s new iPod USB Power Adapter ($20) has taken the simple and cheap approach. It sells for $10 less than Apple’s iPod USB Power Adapter (iLounge rating: B+) and Griffin’s nearly identical PowerBlock AC Charger (iLounge rating: B+), offering the same functionality in a more compact physical package. You get a small (2 1/8” x 1 5/8” x 1 1/4”) USB wall charger with flip-out blades, plus a detachable cable that can connect to your iPod and the charger, or your iPod and computer. This cable is included with Griffin’s PowerBlock, but not Apple’s Adapter. Remove the cable and Sonnet’s Adapter can instead charge the iPod shuffle or a comparable USB device, which the other devices can do as well.
The wall charger is pretty simple. There’s a single light on its front surface that glows yellow-green when not charging and orange when charging, which we found useful to gauge iPod recharging status at a distance. And not surprisingly, the charger worked properly in our testing with iPods, nanos, and shuffles. But surprisingly, Sonnet offers the Adapter in both white and black versions with matching cables, making it the first nano- and 5G iPod- color-accessorized in-home power solution we’ve tested. Like each of the other options, it’s electronically capable of running from 100-240 Volts, and 50 or 60 Hertz, depending on the country where you’re using it, though you’ll need to buy international wall blade adapters separately.
There’s only one wall adapter we’ve tested that’s a better value for some people than this one - Capdase’s USB Power Adapter (iLounge rating: A-) also includes several of the most common international wall blade adapters in its box, and retails for what initially appears to be an aggressive price of $19. But as we noted in our review of that Adapter, customers in the United States can’t get it for that price; they’ll need to import it from overseas, and once the required cost of shipping is factored in, Capdase’s adapter sells for the same $30 you’d pay for Apple’s or Griffin’s adapters at any local store. By comparison, Sonnet’s products are actually available in U.S. brick and mortar shops such as CompUSA, Fry’s Electronics, and J&R Music World, making the $20 iPod USB Power Adapter a much better buy overall. We’d highly recommend it to any iPod owner who wants an inexpensive but reliable wall charger.