A couple of weeks ago, we ran a post about the release of the XtremeMac InCharge Home USB charger (US$29.99) for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Now the device is available in the wild, and one was sent to the sprawling TUAW Labs for hands-on testing. Read on for a detailed look at this ultra-portable charger for your favorite iOS device.
Let's face it -- if you try to put one of Apple's little power cubes into a pocket, you're likely to be asked "is that a charger in your pocket or are you not too happy to see me?" Yep, they make an awkward little bump in your pocket, with the iPad's charger being a little larger and even more obtrusive.
XtremeMac managed to put a full 10W, 2.1A charger into an exceedingly thin package. The InCharge Home USB charger, which features a glossy black front to match your favorite iOS device screen, is just under a half of an inch thick (12.7 mm). It's also extremely light, weighing in at just 1.6 ounces (45 grams). By comparison, Apple's standard iPad charger is an inch thick (25.4 mm) and weighs 2.3 ounces (65 grams). XtremeMac has out-Appled Apple on the design of this charger. It even looks better than Apple's little white box.
As you'd expect, the InCharge Home USB charger features a set of fold-out plugs to maintain that slim profile. Note that the existing model works only with the standard twin-blade NEMA sockets used in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and parts of Asia including Japan, so many of our European readers are out of luck unless they wish to carry a clunky plug adapter with them.
Like I mentioned in the last paragraph, this is a much better design than Apple's! In terms of functionality, it basically does the job of delivering up to 10 watts of power at up to 2.1 amps, enough to charge up a single iPad or other iOS device.
Since the InCharge Home USB comes with a standard USB port on the "downstream" side of the adapter, you can use it with just about any device that uses a USB charger cable. I have a number of devices that use micro-USB to USB cables for charging, and they all worked perfectly with the InCharge Home USB. InCharge includes a USB to dock connector cable that's suitable for charging your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, as well as older iPods that use the dock connector for charging.
Owners of iOS devices who need a replacement or extra charger should definitely consider the InCharge Home USB. At $29.99, it's about a buck more than Apple's iPad 10W USB Power Adapter ($29), but doesn't include an extension cable. It's about $5 less than the new (and about to be reviewed) TwelveSouth PlugBug, but that device allows charging of both an iOS device and a MacBook Pro / Air from one socket.
Who's the InCharge Home USB for? Anyone who wants a well-constructed, lightweight, and very thin charger to accompany them anywhere. I honestly hope that Apple looks at licensing this design to power the next generation of iPad.