Pros: Affordable set of three charging items for use at home or on the road.
Cons: Generic and inexpensive looking, car charger doesn’t offer audio line-out.
[Updated: After our initial review of this product, vendor Gadget Accessories contacted us to inform us that some users have complained about iPod-related problems with second-generation units that shipped with components that are (and look) different from the ones depicted in the photographs below. The company has withdrawn the product from market until an adequate replacement is available, and says that it is “happy to offer refunds to any customer that received the 3 in 1 charger and does not want to continue using it.” Our review text below therefore refers only to the first-generation version, which is no longer available.]
Like a number of Gadget Accessories’ other products, the concept behind the 3-in-1 Travel Charger ($14.99) is very simple: you get three parts that collectively enable you to charge your 3G, 4G, or mini iPod wherever you might be.
Part one is a white car charger with a USB port on its back. While decidedly more generic-looking than MacAlly’s identically priced iPodCarCharger (iLounge rating: C), Gadget Accessories’ car charger features a red light to indicate that it’s receiving power, and functioned just the same as the iPodCarCharger when charging our test iPods.
The second part is a white generic-brand USB-to-iPod Dock Connector cable, which intriguingly is the first that we’ve seen with a fully metal-edged clone of Apple’s official Dock Connector part. While Gadget Accessories’ USB cable isn’t as thin and sleek as the ones included with all current iPod models, it’s fully functional for its intended purpose, and doesn’t in any way hurt as an extra item in the box.
Gadget Accessories’ third and final piece is a mostly rectangular, internationally compatible white wall charger with a USB port. Again, while not as nice as Apple’s glossy iPod pack-in charger, it works, and also includes a red power light to indicate power status.
Therefore, what you get for $14.99 from Gadget Accessories is a full USB set of alternatives to Apple’s fully FireWire-based iPod wall charging and syncing system. While the wall charger is similar to the one Apple packs in with iPods, the USB port makes it different and potentially easier for PC users to carry on the road, along with a USB-to-iPod cable, and the car charger. All of this, for the same price as MacAlly’s car charger adapter alone – which requires you to use Apple’s FireWire cable and doesn’t include the wall charger.
One might assume that aside from the white car charger, the other two items are worthless to iPod owners since they parallel or duplicate items Apple’s already provided. But from our perspective, they add extra value for the already low price and are just a little different in ways that PC users might prefer. The wall charger, for example, mounts horizontally rather than vertically like Apple’s, and might better fit some users’ wall outlets; similarly, the choice of USB ports rather than FireWire ports eliminates a PC user’s need to carry two cables wherever she travels.
The 3-in-1 Travel Charger isn’t the sexiest or most useful set of accessories that we’ve seen, but it’s highly affordable, works as promised, and will appeal to a certain group of users. We’re still not huge fans of car chargers that lack line-out audio capabilities, but by comparison with directly comparable alternatives at the same price point, this is a good product.
Jeremy Horwitz is Editor-in-Chief of iLounge. His recent book, Law School Insider, has been called the “best book about law school – ever,” and he continues to contribute to Ziff-Davis electronic entertainment magazines.
Company and Price
Company: Gadget Accessories
Model: 3-in-1 Travel Charger
Compatible: iPod 3G, 4G, iPod mini, iPod photo