Pros: Attractively priced USB charger for iPods from 4G to mini, photo to shuffle, with support for wall charging in a solid collection of foreign countries. Can be used to charge iPods that don’t include their own wall chargers when a USB 2.0-to-iPod cable is attached.
Cons: Look and feel aren’t as slick as Apple’s official part; provide your own cable (such as the one that comes in the iPod box) for the connection with any iPod except the shuffle.
If this new AC power adapter from Capdase seems somewhat familiar to you, join the club. Our review two months ago of Capdase’s Universal AC Adapter for iPod Series was quite positive (iLounge rating: B+), noting that the company had produced a fully working (albeit unlicensed) iPod charger that was modestly cheaper than Apple’s official part, and also included several international plugs useful for travelers. The only caveat was the fact that import fees for the Hong Kong-based company’s products make them at least as expensive as Apple’s official parts for our readers in countries such as the United States.
Now Capdase has released a very similar product with an even longer name – the USB Power Adapter for iPod shuffle & Other iPod* ($18.95). The computer mouse-shaped adapter is a white repackaging of an inexpensive black plastic USB charger the company previously introduced for non-iPod use some time ago. Its only adornments are a gray Capdase logo on its front, a power sticker on its back, and molded ribs on its sides. But did you notice the asterisk at the end of its name? Yes, it’s actually on the box.
That’s because the USB Power Adapter isn’t just for the iPod shuffle: it can also charge USB 2.0-friendly fourth-generation iPods, minis and photos when connected to any decent USB-to-iPod cable – including the ones packed in with these iPods. A triangular amber light on the Power Adapter’s front glows when it’s plugged in, and the battery charge indicator on your iPod works just as you’d expect it to.
Without an extra cable, you can plug the iPod shuffle directly in to the Power Adapter’s bottom for direct USB charging. While lights on both the Adapter and the shuffle indicate that charging is taking place, it takes a bit for the shuffle’s front orange light to go on and denote that charging has started. We found that both the iPod shuffle and other Dock Connecting iPods charged off of the Power Adapter without any problems.
Therefore, either as a shuffle-only charger or as a Dock Connecting iPod charger, the USB Power Adapter is $10 less expensive than Apple’s official iPod USB Power Adapter (iLounge rating: B+) and works just as well. Then there’s the added bonus of getting four traveler-friendly power faceplates with Capdase’s offering. They’re the same four plugs included with the Universal AC Adapter, which is to say that the Capdase adapter can be used out of the box in the United States, Canada, Continental Europe, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, Japan, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore. By comparison, Apple’s $29 product only comes with one type of plug, and you’ll need to buy a $39 World Travel Adapter kit to use it elsewhere.
Other than the aesthetics (shape and gloss) of Apple’s part, there’s no reason to prefer it to the equally portable and more internationally useful Capdase offering. Even including Capdase’s shipping charges from overseas, you’ll likely come out at about the same price for both items. For that reason, we think Capdase’s USB Power Adapter is a highly recommendable offering, and we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to any current-model iPod owner who needs a wall charger.
Company and Price
Model: Universal AC Adapter
Price: $18.95 (+ shipping), Available at shop.vinko.com
Compatible: iPod 4G, iPod mini, iPod photo, iPod shuffle