Review: Van Hauser iSuperCharger Portable 4-Way Charger for iPod
Company: Van Hauser
Price: $40 (+ shipping)
Compatible: iPod 4G, 5G, nano, mini
We're not going to claim to actually like Van Hauser's almost comical iSuperCharger ($40 plus shipping), which besides its name and inaccurate marketing can also lay claim to having the most ridiculous iPod accessory commercial ever made. But we can tell you that if you look past certain of its worst characteristics, it's not a bad product - it's mostly goofy and has only a few issues that would concern typical users.
iSuperCharger is accurately described as a four-in-one charger: Van Hauser has grafted a car charger, AC wall charger, USB charger, and 9-Volt battery charger into one big plastic wand of a device. A dangling coiled Dock Connector cord is on one of its sides, a smaller USB plug is on another, and there are places to connect it to a 9-Volt battery (side), car power port (bottom), and wall outlet (back), so you can charge your iPod off of almost any type of available power source, including a computer or disposable batteries. The USB plug only charges when connected to a computer - it doesn’t sync - and the other power sources work for as long as they’re connected and capable of providing juice.
Somewhat predictably, iSuperCharger does what it’s supposed to do - with certain iPods. Since it’s described on its packaging as compatible with every full-sized iPod, plus minis and nanos, while its ad also shows it as working with the first-generation shuffle, we’re still trying to figure out how the device became Made for iPod-certified: it’s not even physically capable of being attached to some of the iPods it’s supposed to be compatible with (1G/2G iPods, shuffle), and won’t even charge another (3G). Thankfully, with other iPods - 4Gs, 5Gs, nanos, and minis - it does charge properly off of every source, in each case lighting up its sole green power light to let you know that power is flowing. Since there’s no switch on the unit, once a 9-Volt battery is connected, the battery’s power starts to run down, so connecting an iPod immediately will be necessary to make the most of that limited, several-hour power source.
There are a few other issues. Most obviously, you’ll have to compromise on the smaller size you’d expect from any one of the individual types of chargers in order to pack four chargers into one housing; other than that, iSuperCharger looks and feels inexpensive relative to the best iPod charging accessories we’ve seen. Its 9-Volt battery holder is cheaply formed, and actually took one of the terminals off of an Energizer battery when we tried to disconnect it - the sort of unpleasant little problem that cost the device even our B- rating. We’ve also heard about, but not ourselves seen, issues with some of the units’ wall power adapters; our unit worked properly from every power source as described above.
Overall, iSuperCharger isn’t a great product, and in our view isn’t really even a good one thanks to its overpromising and so-so quality level. But if you really need a “go anywhere” charger for one of the iPods it actually supports, and are willing to accept the aforementioned limitations, it’s not a bad value for the price.