IDAPT i1 Eco Universal Charger Review

The Idapt i1 Eco is the portable member of Idapt’s family of universal chargers: by using the same interchangeable tips as the dual and triple versions, the usefulness of the system is extended from the home to the car and travel.

Idapt i1 Eco Universal Charger

If you aren’t familiar with Idapt, their system offers a wide selection of charging tips that are snapped into a charging station which has anything from one (i1 Eco) to three (i4) changeable charging points. The benefit is that the charging station can be uniquely customised to your mobile device usage. For example, your phone might have a micro-USB connector, your iPod has an Apple connector and your Nintendo DSi has its own connector. By using the relevant tips, all three devices can be charged at once. Geek News Central reviewed the Idapt i4 earlier in the year.

Within this context, let’s take a look at the i1 Eco. Out of the box, you get a the i1 unit itself, a mains power connector, a USB power connector, a car USB adaptor and three charging tips – mini-USB, micro-USB and Apple.

Idapt Charging Tips

The main unit takes only one of these at a time, but there’s an additional full-size USB port on the side, so two devices can be charged simultaneously.

The i1 Eco can be powered either from the mains or from a USB power source: the cables interchange at the lime green coloured multi-connector. As you can see from the picture below, these are standard connector types, namely micro-USB and IEC “shotgun”.

The power transformer is incorporated into the body of the Eco 1 so there’s no “wall wart”, only an ordinary plug on the end of the cable. The advantage of this will become clear shortly and when buying the i1 Eco, UK, USA or Euro mains plugs can be specified.

Power cable

At the other end of the Eco 1 is the socket for the charging tips. These pop in and out and are exactly the same as the ones used in the tabletop models, which is handy if you have invested in a range of tips.

Tip Socket Tip Inserted

The USB socket on the side is used to charge a second device via a cable, which is best used for tablets or other larger devices which can be unwieldy to connect on the end of the i1 Eco.

i1 Side Shot

As might be guessed from the name, it’s intended to be a green charger. The packaging is all recycled cardboard and the body of the i1 Eco is made from recycled plastic. Even more unusual is the presence of a power button on the side of the i1 Eco, which is there to help save energy.

Most consumer electronics chargers don’t have an on-off switch and most gang extension sockets don’t have on-off switches either, which means that to fully turn off a charger, it has to be pulled out of the socket, which is pretty inconvenient and most of us don’t bother. The chargers continue to consume power even when there’s no device being charged and this power is completely wasted.

The i1 Eco eliminates this problem by having an on-off switch and by automatically powering off when the recharging gadgets are fully charged. This is a great feature and as a result, no power is wasted when gadgets are connected but fully charged and the Eco 1 can be safely plugged in all the time.

Overall, it’s all very clever, useful and green to boot!

Are there any downsides? There are a couple but nothing too serious. First of all, the USB car adaptor that goes in the cigarette lighter socket is a bit flimsy and lets the overall package down. For comparison, the Griffin PowerJolt is a far better adaptor.

Secondly, the auto-power off feature is sometimes a bit over-enthusiastic. On occasion I’d connect up my tablet (Motorola Xoom 2 ME) to charge and I’d come back later to find that the i1 Eco had switched off while the tablet was still only part charged. Other times it worked perfectly with the tablet and I had no problems with other devices (Bluetooth headset, mp3 player, ereader). To be fair, the included literature does mention that some smartphones can be incompatible with this feature so I guess this includes tablets too.

Update: Idapt contacted me to say that with troublesome devices, simply hold the on-off button down for about a second when turning the charger on and this reduces the auto-off sensitivity. I carried out some further testing of the i1 Eco with the tablet and can confirm that this solution works so problem solved. Thanks, Idapt.

The i1 Eco is a clever and flexible portable charging solution that will particularly appeal to those who have already bought into the Idapt way and have a full set of charging tips.

The i1 Eco is available from Idapt for £19.99 and extra tips are mostly £5.95.

Thanks to Idapt for providing the i1 Eco for review.

Veho Mobile Gear at The Gadget Show

Pebble Power PackVeho probably isn’t the first name that springs to mind when thinking about gadgets but they have a sizeable range from miniature video cameras to digital photo frames and Bluetooth headsets. In the UK, their products are sold in the main big boxes – PC World and Currys.

On Veho’s stand at Gadget Show Live, I played with a USB microscope which showed magnified images on the PC screen. Perhaps a little limited with just two magnification levels (20x or 200x) but good fun nevertheless.

In this interview, James Farmer from Veho takes me through some of the Veho range, including their Muvi miniature DV cameras, Pebble portable battery packs and Mimi wireless speakers. I really liked their Pebble range of battery packs as they had a lovely smooth shape, like the original Palm Pre.

 

Verbatim Demos LED Bulbs at The Gadget Show

Verbatim LED LightsVerbatim are best known for their data storage products and I can remember having piles of Verbatim floppy disks back in the day, as it were. Younger readers will know the company for blank DVDs, memory cards and USB memory sticks but Verbatim have recently launched an LED lighting business.

Offering direct plug-in replacements, the goal is to encourage consumers to replace existing incandescent lights with LED-based equivalents. The power savings can be considerable with 60 W bulbs being replaced by LEDs closer to 10 W in power.

Verbatim LED Lighting Demo

At The Gadget Show Live, Ian tells me more about Verbatim’s LED lighting products and why we should all switch over.

IDAPT Universal Multichargers at The Gadget Show

The need to charge today’s mobile gadgets on an almost daily basis is one of the downsides of faster processors and bigger screens. Although companies like Palm have tried to introduce inductive charging, most gadgets need to be simply plugged in. This leads to the proliferation of wall chargers and a mess of cables.

IDAPT‘s solutions bring order to the chaos with multi-device chargers that have interchangeable charging tips to suit the device being charged – smartphones, portable game consoles, tablets, digital cameras, even rechargeable batteries.

The i4 can charge three devices on top with a fourth on the side (right) and the i2+ takes two on top (bottom left). The i1 eco is a portable charger (middle) and only charges one device but is made from recycled plastic.

IDAPT Charging Units

The bright yellow IDAPT S1 Universal Speaker is shown below with an iPad but it’s device agnostic and uses Bluetooth rather than the device connector to transmit the music. I’ve been looking for a decent speaker dock that works with something other than an Apple device so I’ll be taking a hard look at this one.

IDAPT Loudspeaker Dock

I chat with Myles Pomfret, IDAPT’s country manager at The Gadget Show Live to find out more about these versatile chargers.

Fulton Innovation’s Wireless Charging

Fulton Innovation logoThe great thing about CES is that every now and then an unknown shows off something cool. I’d never heard of Fulton Innovation but they have smart products based around wireless power transmission. Todd learns more about eCoupled from Dave Baarman.

Fulton Innovation have developed an inductive coupling solution that scales from simply making a magazine cover light up as you walk past to being able to charge a whole bag of devices without taking them out of the bag. Electric cars could be recharged by parking in the right spot and not by plugging them in.

Not all of these products are ready for market just yet, but inductive charging efficiencies are on a par with plug-in chargers though economies of scale are needed to bring the prices down to a point where it’s built-in as standard. Palm’s Pre range of smartphones used inductive charging with the Touchstone and the Motorola Droid 4 has inductive charging as an option. As a Pre 3 owner, it’s brilliant not having to fiddle with cables and I hope more devices come to the market with inductive charging in 2012.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network, and Dave Lee from Waves of Tech.

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Green Plug Brings Control to AC-DC Conversion

Green Plug LogoAs energy prices rise and green credentials come under scrutiny, each step in the energy path is being examined for inefficiency. Andy and Courtney listen to Paul Panepinto from Green Plug on their technology.

Green Plug have developed a digital controller to optimise the conversion of electricity between AC and DC. For the non-engineers, AC (alternative current)  is what is in your wall socket and DC (direct current) is what most of your gadgets use. All those power bricks and wall warts are transformers combined with AC to DC converters to change 110 V AC to 12V / 5V DC.

Green Plug has pioneered the use of intercommunicating digital power and load processors to optimise the AC-to-DC power conversion and increase efficiency. It’s an area that has been typically overlooked in power management but Green Plug has reduced the implementation cost to make the inclusion of the technology cost-effective. Over the next few years, it’s likely that this technology will start to appear laptop and phone chargers, so keep an eye out for it.

Interview by Andy McCaskey and Courtney Wallin of SDR News and RV News Net.

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OWC Power2U USB in an AC Wall Outlet

OWC Power2U USB socketOWC are more usually known for their line of Mac-compatible SSDs but unsurprisingly, they do have other products. Andy finds out more from Grant.

The unsightly profusion of mobile phone, tablet and other gadget chargers is a bane of modern life. OWC have a tidy and green solution in the shape of a standard power socket fitted with smart USB charging points which don’t draw power when not in use. It’s approved by UL, too, so it’s home safe. The Power2U is available now for $27.99. OWC – please do a UK version too.

Moving on, iPads are an easy target for thieves and corporate devices doubly so. OWC’s iPad GripStand Station securely stores, recharges and syncs up to 8 iPads at once, even when the iPads are fitted with a GripStand. The security bar and padlock make petty theft much more difficult. Available now from $379, which I gather is a somewhat of a bargain.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and RV News Net.

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Allure Energy Intelligent Thermostat with Proximity Control

Allure Energy graphicAllure Energy introduced their latest energy management product, EverSense, at CES 2012. Andy learns how to save money on your electricity bill from Kevin, Allure Energy.

Allure Energy’s EverSense, a thermostat replacement technology, is based around a tablet device that can make intelligent energy decisions on your behalf. The proximity control feature raises or lowers the temperature in your based on how far away you are from your home. By using a GPS app on your iPhone (or Android smartphone) that sends back your location, EverSense knows where you and if you are coming home, it adjusts the temperature to your preferences. Cool.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and RV News Net.

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Built To Tylt Designs for Smartphones

Built to Tylt logoAt CES‘s Digital Experience, Andy talks with Built To Tylt about their funky designs for smartphones and other portable gadgets. Check their website as these guys have got some great stuff.

The Tylt Band is a smartphone car charger made of a colourful flat silicon rubber cable that is nearly impossible tangle. Micro-USB and Apple connectors are available there’s an extra standard USB socket near the base of the cable for plugging in another device.

Tylt also have two portable battery packs, the Zumo and the PowerPlant, with 1500 mAh and 5,200 mAh batteries respectively. The Zumo is intended for the emergency smartphone charging, whereas the larger PowerPlant can part charge a tablet or recharge a smartphone several times.

Finally, if you are an iPhone owner, you might be interested in Tylt’s new iPhone cases, one of which comes with a lens cover to protect the camera and another that has a built-in kickstand (kickband?) to angle the iPhone for movie watching.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and RV News Net.

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iLuv Wins With New Travel Gadgets

iLuv LogoiLuv will be familiar to many with their extensive range of matching accessories for tablets, smartphones and MP3 players. At CES this year, iLuv won no less than 5 CES Innovations Honoree awards to add to their collection of accolades. Todd gets a review of their latest products from Peter of iLuv.

The DreamTraveler is combined iPhone dock, USB charger and mains power strip squared aimed at those unfortunate souls who have to spend time in poorly equipped hotel rooms. It has two USB charging ports, three power outlets and an Apple connector for charging iPhones, iPods and iPads.

For the international traveller, iLuv has the RockWall, a dual USB charger that comes with the right mains plugs for different countries round the world.

Finally, the Mo’Beats is a portable tablet or smartphone cradle with Bluetooth wireless speakers that has a built-in lithium-ion battery which will run for about 4 hours.

All the products will be available in April or May. The Mo’Beats SRP is expected to be $89.99 but the website is currently showing $99.99. I think Peter gets his prices mixed up in the video as the RockWall is priced at $49.99 on the website and the DreamTraveler is $129.99.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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