The Highs.Carry 1 charger versus 4 or 5; works at home, in the car, on aircraft; reasonably priced

The Lows.iGo website not quite as good as the product

The Verdict: .Love it, despite issues with the iGo site

If you find yourself lugging along several AC chargers for your gadgets when you travel, consider an iGo charger.   Although iGo makes replacement wall chargers, their claim to fame is their travel chargers:  able to work with 110-240v wall outlets, 12v car power outlets, and airline power (an Empower plug is included), the iGo travel chargers are compatible with all manner of laptops, netbooks, music players, GPS units, and mobile phones.

I’ve been experimenting with an iGo Netbook Travel Charger (pictured left) and am very impressed.  I can charge my netbook and BlackBerry at the same time; it’s also compatible with my iPod Touch and Garmin Nuvi 350 GPS.

The following 1½ minute video does a good job of summarizing the iGo Netbook Travel Charger’s key features:

Key Features & Specs

  • Charges virtually all netbook computers from your home, car, or airplane
  • Guaranteed to safely and quickly charge your netbook automatically
  • Powers from any standard wall, car, or airplane outlet
  • Interchangeable power tips allow you to charge multiple devices with a single power solution
  • Included iGo USB charging cable plugs directly into the USB port on the charger or any other USB port to charge your other mobile devices
  • Works worldwide; no need for a voltage converter when traveling
  • Two free tips of your choice are included with product
  • Dimensions: 4.35 x 2.42 x 0.93 in (110.5 x 61.5 x 23.8 mm)
  • Weight: 7.4 oz (209.8 g)
  • Input Power: 110-240 VAC; 50-60 Hz; 11.5-16 VDC
  • Output Power: 40WPACKAGE CONTENTS:
  • iGo Netbook Charger
  • Wall Cable
  • Auto/Air Cable
  • Travel Case
  • USB Charging Cable
  • User Guide

Website woes…

I’m enamored with the iGo; its website, not so much.  The specs reviewed above are directly from the iGo site:  note that no mention is made of the fact that 4 tips come with the product, but you get to choose two of your choice.  So when it came time to do so in the ordering process, I selected the tip for my Asus 1000HA netbook, and one for my iPod Touch.

When the unit arrived, I discovered the 4 free tips – in addition to the 2 I’d selected.  Messing around with them, I found that one works with my (work) ThinkPad.  “Fantastic!,” I thought.  Then I looked at the others, each of which bore a 3 digit code.  Flipping over the one with a “401” code revealed that it was imprinted with the word “Asus.”  Uh oh.  Checking the one I’d selected for “free,” I discovered that I’d burned one of my two free tips on a tip that comes with the unit.  Not good, and not particularly helpful.   (For the record, the unit comes with these tips:  207, 206 (ThinkPad), 401 (Asus), and 212.  I’d tell you what the 207 and 212 tips are for, but couldn’t find a way to identify that on the iGo site.)

Another thing about the site:  if you first select the Netbook Travel Charger and then try to find the tip for the Asus 1000HA, it’s virtually impossible to locate.  If you instead begin searching for that tip from the site’s homepage, using the “Tip Search” feature, you’ll find it immediately…   as long as you search for “Asus 1000HA;” if you search for “Asus 1000 HA” (inserting a space between “1000” and “HA”), good luck – you won’t find it.  A search engine supported by more robust database tables would be a really good idea, iGo.

A few other thoughts…

If you’re using this product for a netbook (and given its name, that’s likely!), think hard before you buy a tip for an iPod or other device that uses a USB cable.  The iPod tip is $12.49, and it’s highly debatable that spending that much for a tip – versus bringing along your iPod USB cable, which weighs all of 22 grams – is worth it.  Same goes for items that use a standard USB cable for power:  the iGo Netbook Travel Charger’s USB jack puts out the standard 5v output.  If you’re bringing along a USB sync cable for use with your digital camera, for instance, use it for charging your GPS, or other compatible devices…  no need for separate tips.

Wrapping up

One of the most appealing aspects of the iGo Netbook Travel Charger is its flexibility – use it at home, in a hotel, car, or aircraft.  It includes the Empower plug for use on many aircraft, a big plus for travelers.  Its compatible with 100v – 240v systems, so no need for a converter.  Its cables are long, a plus in hotel rooms where outlets are often hidden away in inconvenient locations.  It comes with a handy carry case – with everything in the case (including all 6 tips), it weighs a little over a pound.

Price? It’s $59.99, which seems reasonable, if you’ve ever priced replacement wall warts for a laptop or netbook. Throw in the extra versatility, and it seems like a solid bargain.   See it here at the iGo website.

The Fine Print:  I have no connection with iGo

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2 Comments on Quick take: iGo netbook/gadget Travel Charger

  1. Excellent review and it sounds like a very efficient and compact product for travelers trying to stay light.

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