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An extra charging brick for your iPhone and iPad is technically a want, although it often really feels like a need. Dexim’s Visible Green Smart Charger costs about $5 more than Apple’s replacement 10W USB Power Adapter ($29, www.apple.com), and Apple’s cable even throws in a 6-foot extension cord. But the Smart Charger can shave some pennies off your electric bill, since it shuts itself off when your gadget is charged or disconnected.
The square brick’s prongs fold in, and it has a USB port for the 2.5-foot cord. But the brick is 1.75 inches, and the end of the lighted USB cord is a little over 2 inches, so you may find that it covers more than one outlet in your power strip.
Plug in an iPhone, iPad, or iPod, and you’ll see tiny blue lights “stream” down the white cable (which can also be used without the brick, as shown in the photo) as power flows to your device. After four hours plugged in, our third-gen iPad charged from 4 percent to 69 percent—the lights are supposed to start out quick and slow down when the device reaches roughly 65 percent charged, but they kept going the same speed. When the device is unplugged, the lights slow down and then stop after about 5 seconds. When I plugged in my iPhone 4S reading 100% charged, the lights ran fast for 2 minutes, slowed down at that point but kept going, and finally stopped a whopping 45 minutes later.
Like most people I know, I leave my iPhone plugged in overnight, so that’s when I’m most likely to use this charger. But when I plugged it in on my bedside table (my iPhone is also my alarm clock), I had to throw an old T-shirt over the cable to keep the running lights from casting a blue flicker on my bed. The lights had stopped before I woke up, meaning it wasn’t using any power during the wee hours of the morning.
The bottom line. It’s a cool idea, and the lights are pretty, but the cheaper, better-designed Apple charger is a better value.
iPhone, iPod or iPad with 30-pin dock connector
Shuts off when your device is fully charged. Cable can be used for charging/ syncing to a Mac, without the power brick (as shown).
On the expensive side, since you can get an iPad charger from Apple for $29.