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Dollar Store Accessories: USB car charger


For a dollar, this USB car charger is quite adorable. Rated at 1 amp and surprisingly well built, I could find nothing to fault with this unit except that I bought it at the Dollar Store.

Let me back up for a second here. Almost none of the other US$1 accessories I have purchased to date have an equal potential to utterly and completely mess up[1] my precious iPhone.

That's because I cannot stop thinking about what will happen if things go wrong. Several TUAW staffers had to talk me through the testing because I was a complete nervous Nellie trying it out. (Skipping to the chase? It worked; it worked fine; I kept my testing really short.)

Of course, in the end, it was Steve Sande who gave the best advice. "Open it up," he said, "and see if it has a fuse. If it doesn't, run away, run away." I pulled out my tiny Phillips screwdriver, opened it up and sure enough, there was a fuse and some other fancy electronics in it.

For $1, this charger felt pretty well built and, given that it had a fuse to prevent stray power surges from frying my iPhone, a reasonable value. And I tell you now, I would have tossed it or given it away if I hadn't destroyed it looking for a fuse. That's because I have little or no quality trust established with my dollar store. Some of the accessories I've tested have been unexpected delights. Quite a lot of them have been utter crap[2].

When it comes to this kind of intimate relationship between your phone and amps, you may want to stick with a brand name. Give me a "name" provider, particularly one with hundreds if not thousands of reviews on Amazon. It's not as if the name versions cost all that much these days.

[1] A "family-friendly" and "suitable for work" way of saying what I think it could do to my iPhone.

[2] See [1], but referring to the quality and value of the review item.

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