Review: MobileCharge by Speck Products

An innovative, but pricey car charger (February 21st, 2006)

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Product Manufacturer: Speck Products

Price: $39.95 US

The Good

  • Innovative design, especially if you like the stick shift look. Convenient and subtle light. Self-resetting fuse.

The Bad

  • A little large. A little pricey for a charger.

In a world where there are now thousands of iPod accessories, many of the products overlap and look suspiciously similar. It appears that many companies use the same suppliers then just slap their logos on a variety of products. Not so with Speck Products, they strive to bring new products to market with a distinctive look that immediately sets them apart from the herd. Whether a new line succeeds is ultimately up to the consumer, but at least you have to respect that Speck attempts to innovate and provide a real choice.

Not As Silly As It First Looks

The first release in Speck's new Mobile iPod accessory line is MobileCharge. It is simply a car charger for any docking iPod, but with a distinctive design. At first look, I thought it was bulky and a bit silly looking. It is black leather covered with a silver chrome finish round bulb on the end and a round bright blue light. Upon plugging it into my lighter, its first feature came to light, literally. You can see it in a dark car and it subtly illuminates the iPod, which is helpful when an FM transmitter is connected. It also didn't blow my lighter fuse, which has been a big problem in my car.

This charger provides continuous power, while other chargers I've used charge intermittently, probably more a problem with my outlet than anything else. (Newer cars with power plugs, instead of lighters, have fuses that are more robust and probably don't blow fuses as easily, nor have power issues, like my car.) There is also a built-in self-resetting fuse, which will take a power hit before your iPod, always a good thing.

Another pleasing feature is that the MobileCharge complements my stick shift handle nicely. Most people own automatic cars, so this feature may not even be on your radar. I liked how it mimics the gearshift knob, and it reminded me of the stick shift on my poor, dear, departed MG.

Fast Charger and Secure Connector

My iPod battery was nearly depleted when I set up the MobileCharge, and as advertised, the iPod seemed to charge up much faster than when connected to other chargers. It also paused and powered down my iPod when the car was turned off. As noted in my review of XtremeMac's airplay2, the dock connector is very secure and doesn't let go of the device.

The only problem experienced with the MobileCharge was when it was unplugged by a passenger and dropped out of the car onto the pavement, as they tangled it around their feet. It still works, but now has a curious rattle. The leather seemed thick enough to avert any problems like that. Speck offered to take it back and investigate what broke and report back.

Although I had a positive experience with the MobileCharge, I think the price is high for a car charger, even with its many features. Griffin Technology, XtremeMac, Logic3, and others sell car chargers for about $20.00, and I'm not sure the enhanced features warrant the extra 20. Hopefully the price will drop as Speck releases other products in the Mobile line.

by ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor


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