Pros: An all-in-one bundle of wall, car, and airline charger components for the iPod, with a unified, highly attractive aesthetic design, carrying case, and multiple wall blades for use in international travel. The parts work well and look better than any other simple chargers we’ve seen.
Cons: No discount for this bundle relative to prior standalone iPod auto/air chargers and international wall power adapters; you pay as much here as you would buying the parts separately. Car charger remains functionally basic by comparison with best designs we’ve seen.
A good idea with great industrial design? That’s XtremeMac’s Incharge Traveler, a three-in-one iPod charging solution with add-on accessories for travelers. The package includes a zippered carrying bag to hold four sets of international wall blades, a wall adapter, an auto adapter, and a cable that can connect to the wall or auto adapters, or be used without them in some airplanes. At the other end is an iPod Dock Connector, covered by a protective rubber travel cap. Incharge isn’t the smallest or least expensive charging system we’ve seen, but it’s one of the most comprehensive, and nicest-looking.
An international iPod wall charger sells for $35. Auto chargers sell for $20-30. And airplane chargers – a dying breed of accessory – sell for $25 to $30. So when XtremeMac announced InCharge Traveler, a “global charging kit featuring wall, car, and airplane adapters,” there was some conceptual justification for the $70 asking price: you get all three types of chargers in one package. And they look nice, too. So is the InCharge Traveler package right for you?
Our answer is “possibly.” Truth be told, the economics aren’t quite as much in XtremeMac’s favor as the numbers above would suggest: BTI and Monster Cable were selling all-in-one iPod airplane and car charger cables called Auto/Air Adapter and iAirPlay Charger respectively for $30 or less two years ago, and it goes without saying that if you’re charging more than Monster Cable for an accessory, there had better be a good reason.
XtremeMac’s reasons would be these: with InCharge Traveler, you also get a wall charger with four sets of international wall blades – the equivalent of Griffin’s recent $35 PowerBlock travel (iLounge rating: B-) in the box, plus a nice zippered and compartmentalized carrying case for all of the pieces. And as is now typical of XtremeMac’s products, all of these components look really nice. The power adapter and car charger pieces are unusually stylish by the standards of such accessories, and accented with blue power LEDs that shine through their white plastic surfaces.
They also worked well, properly charging our iPods as we’d expect from any such adapters, and doing so silently. Unlike Griffin’s recent PowerBlock travel and PowerDuo travel, XtremeMac’s power adapter didn’t exhibit any high-pitched noises – it just worked. That’s not surprising, as most iPod power adapters do the same. Just as with Griffin’s accessories, InCharge’s wall adapter switches automatically between 120 and 240 volt outlets to safely provide power to your iPod, and the car charger has a user-changeable fuse hidden inside a screw-off tip, just in the unlikely case of a power surge. [Editors’ Note: This fuse detail was added on April 5 to the original review, correcting a prior reference.]
The only reasons we have any hesitation about InCharge Traveler are obvious: pricing and functional limitations. Like most of the low-end iPod car chargers we’ve seen recently, plugging InCharge into your iPod’s Dock Connector port means giving up access to its line-level audio output, which isn’t the case with chargers like Belkin’s Auto Kit and SiK’s imp. XtremeMac’s solution is really just here to charge your iPod and provide access to its headphone port, nothing more. And the price speaks for itself: at $70, this isn’t a bargain compared with the PowerDuo travel, or the previously mentioned BTI and Monster accessories. You could buy both for XtremeMac’s price, assuming you really need the airline adapter, which unfortunately has not become any easier to find places to use in planes over the last few years.
In our view, InCharge Traveler’s pricing makes it less of a mainstream travelers’ accessory than it could be, but it’s hard to fault in features, performance, or aesthetics. Those looking for a charging solution that can be used almost anywhere would be hard-pressed to find a package as convenient and eye-pleasing as this one, but budget-sensitive buyers may find that less fully equipped or more aggressively priced charger bundles are more practical for their needs.
Company and Price
Model: Incharge Traveler
Compatible: iPod 4G, 5G, nano, mini