Apparently, people need multiple ways to charge both their iPhones and their iPhone accessories. There’s no other way to explain Apple’s release of the iPhone Bluetooth Travel Cable ($29), which is bundled with the iPhone Bluetooth Headset and now also sold separately — just in case you need another one.
The iPhone Bluetooth Travel Cable is a dual-purpose charging cable with a total of three white plastic connectors and 40 inches of gray plastic-coated wire. At one end is a standard USB plug that connects to your computer for power and/or synchronization, or an Apple USB Power Adapter (sold separately) for power. Covered by an included, detachable transparent protective cap, the other end has a special Dock Connector plug, which bucks Apple’s recent trend by enlarging rather than shrinking the Connector’s plastic enclosure.
That’s because the enclosure now has space for a magnetized second connector port that can recharge the Bluetooth Headset at the same time as the iPhone’s connected. This magnet prevents the Headset, which dangles from iPhone’s bottom when both devices are connected, from falling out during the charging process. Additionally, connecting the Headset, the iPhone, and a power source at the same time leads the iPhone to activate its Bluetooth mode, instantly pair with the Headset, and display both devices’ current recharging status on its screen, a feature also found on the iPhone Dual Dock. (Just for kicks, we tried to see whether the Travel Cable would bring up this screen when connected to a standard iPhone Dock, and it wouldn’t.)
Since it works exactly as expected and properly charges both the iPhone and the Bluetooth Headset, the only obvious issue with the Bluetooth Travel Cable is its price. Apple’s sale of $19 spare USB cables for iPods has long struck many people as at least mildly objectionable given how little they cost to make—or how little other vendors sell them for—and the added iPhone Bluetooth Headset charging port hardly seems worth an additional $10 premium; this may be a proprietary cable, but it’s just a cable, not a full-fledged kit with a wall charger like the iPhone Dual Dock. As of today, since the Bluetooth Headset includes one of these and a Dual Dock with the same features in a larger package, Headset buyers will have no reason to buy another Travel Cable unless they lose the first one; we’d consider it worth purchasing only if you’re in truly desperate need of a replacement or a spare.
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