The IDAPT i1 Eco Universal Charger ($25) aims to be your charge-every-device portable charger. But this is one instance where bigger is indeed not better.
First, since it’s relevant to the conversation, let me start with a brief explanation on how IDAPT products work.
IDAPT makes chargers unlike most you’re probably familiar with. Each charger can be fit with a “charging tip,” and these tips are interchangeable in their various charging models. The idea is, you buy the charger you need, then you use it with the tips you need. That means you could use the tips in your i1 Eco to charge your iPhone and headset while in your car, then use those same tips at home in one of IDAPT’s charging stations, like the i4+ I reviewed last week.
Ok, let’s continue.
The IDAPT i1 Eco is truly the Swiss Army Knife of chargers. It can be powered via your wall outlet, your Mac’s USB port, even your car’s DC plug (car adapter is included). And with the three included charging tips, you can charge iPhones, iPods, or any device with a micro or mini USB plug.
Got some weird device? Maybe a Nokia? The nice thing is IDAPT makes charging tips for practically everything, and you can buy extra tips for just $10.
The i1 Eco also includes a USB port on the side of the unit, meaning you could even charge two devices at once.
Aside from charging talent, the i1 was also constructed with conservation in mind, and I applaud IDAPT for that. When the i1 is not in use, or when your device is charged, it automatically powers down to draw less energy. It is also made from recyclable plastics.
As much as I liked the idea of the i1 Eco on paper, with all its multi-tip charging finesse, I found myself hesitant to actually use it for a multitude of reasons.
First — and there’s no nice way to say this — the i1 feels cheaply made. The unit has a weird texture to it, unlike normal plastic. Maybe that’s because of the recyclable material it’s made from, I don’t know, but the plastic feels like the kind you get when you buy cheap Chinese knockoff products.
The i1 also didn’t fit together quite right. At the seams, the plastic wasn’t smooth and level, but rough, and unevenly fit; I could even see inside the unit. The charging tip kept half-popping out too. That was annoying. The i1 seemed incapable of keeping the charging tip secured in place.
And the wall cord, why did it have to be so stiff? It was hard to bend and hard to wrap up, and after unfolding it for use, it would keep trying to recoil, sliding my iPhone and towards the outlet at edge of the table. The car adapter wire wasn’t like that. It was pliable and pleasant and let my iPhone rest where it laid.
But aside from the cord issue, here’s the biggest reason I found I resisted using the i1: its size. Most phone and headset adapters these days are tiny, much smaller than the i1, which is supposed to be a “portable” charger. Some smaller devices even come sans charger, with only a short USB cable you can use to charge them via your computer. Why carry the i1 when it’s larger and less portable than all the chargers I have combined? It can charge my devices in the car, that’s pretty cool, but that’s only advantage I see it having over my OEM chargers.
If you find you need a decent car charger for your phone or bluetooth headset, and if you also like to travel, the IDAPT i1 Eco Universal Charger might be for you. But due to its size, it’s not the best travel charger — it’s too big and its cable is too unruly. I love the “charging tips” in IDAPT’s home charging models, but they don’t translate well into this “portable” travel charger.