Though Apple’s latest high-tech iPad and MacBook batteries have cast joy-inducing spells on their users, there’s nothing magical about its Mac accessories’ reliance on AA batteries, which can require replacement after three months of steady use. Only in August did Apple release its own rechargeable battery solution called the Battery Charger, giving users an officially-endorsed alternative to chucking sets of two or three AAs in the trash. Even so, Mac OS X’s normally reliable charge remaining indicators were thrown off by the new rechargeables, leading users—including us—to see inaccurate “low battery” warnings for weeks at a time.
A new Swiss company called Mobee Technology has come up with a really smart if imperfectly executed alternative in the form of The Magic Charger ($50), an inductive recharging solution that works with Apple’s new Magic Mouse—nothing else. The kit consists of a battery pack, a charging station, and a gray USB cable designed to match Apple’s design sensibilities, and for the most part, they succeed. You pull the metal battery compartment off the Magic Mouse’s bottom, remove the prior AAs, and pop Mobee’s replacement in their collective place. The Magic Charger’s battery is machined to look and feel so close to Apple’s original part that you won’t know the difference once it’s properly installed, and yet the Mouse will have gained another magic power: the ability to refuel itself with the most minimal user effort, short of turning the mouse pad itself into a giant charger.
To back up one moment, installation of the new battery pack is not as easy as it should be. Mobee doesn’t include any text instructions in the package, and its several illustrations gloss over the fact that there are recessed tabs on the battery pack that need to be inserted into the Magic Mouse chassis in a specific order, top first. Mess up and you’ll be left wondering whether you can safely pry your new battery pack off without bending its thin metal edges; a replacement pack is, amazingly, $30. Seeking to avoid damage, we gently wedged a plastic card into the side of the top seam, moving it across the pack’s entire top surface to distribute its leverage across the maximum area, then popped the battery off and reinstalled it properly. The feared metal curves didn’t materialize, though they probably would have if we’d tried to yank the panel off by one corner. Better instructions would make the process trouble-free.
Thankfully, there’s no challenge whatsoever in recharging the Mouse once installation is complete. Mobee includes a silver and white plastic tray that looks almost as if it could have come out of an Apple factory, and you connect it to your computer or anything else you may own with a full-sized USB port. A charging light flashes green when a Magic Mouse is on the surface, stays green when the charge is done, and turns red when nothing’s sensed for charging purposes.
The Magic Charger is as close to an elegant charging solution as we’ve seen for any Apple mouse, and though other companies have obviously been selling mice with their own recharging stations for years, this one works without having to align the Magic Mouse with charging pins: just place it on the soap dish at any angle and recharging commences. One wonders why Apple hasn’t just built this feature into its mice already.
We’d guess that it has something to do with adding yet another expense on top of an already pricey peripheral, and possibly the fact that the port- and button-reductionists at Apple mightn’t see the value in offering a charging solution that requires the same USB port you could have just connected to a wired mouse. Except, of course, that there isn’t a wired Magic Mouse. And that you can connect this someplace else in your home or office, away from your computer if need be. At least within the confines of products that Apple currently offers, this product just makes sense. Whether it’s worth ponying up $50 more to improve upon a $69 mouse is up to you.