iGo Universal Charging Adapters for Multiple Devices (Product Review)

iGo everywhere85 Notebook Power AdapterI use an iGo adapter to power and charge my electronic devices when I’m traveling. The concept behind these is that you can use one adapter/charger for multiple devices like notebook computers, mobile phones, bluetooth headsets, music players, cameras and hand-held video game players. Having one charger for multiple devices cuts down on the clutter and makes it convenient to carry. iGo has been has been selling these for many years. Kensington and Targus also make similar universal adapters. Also, in the last couple of years, many phones and small devices have begun to support USB based charging.

Such universal charging systems have many benefits. For example:

  • I have different makes and models of notebook computers at work and home. Sometimes I need to bring my work laptop home or take my home laptop to the office. With a universal charging adapter that can be used with either of my notebooks, I don’t have to carry a charger between home and the office.
  • When I travel, I sometimes carry my work laptop. On other trips I carry my personal notebook computer. I can just keep the one (same) charger in my travel kit regardless of which laptop I’m traveling with.
  • When I change my mobile phone handset, I only need to buy one tip (~ $10) for my new phone. I don’t need to buy a new set of chargers for my home, office, car and travel. The same applies to a new laptop computer.
  • iGo powerXtender battery operated chargerI love the iGo powerXtender battery operated charger which allows me to charge my mobile phone or iPod Nano using two standard AA batteries when doing outdoor activities like hiking or exploring a city walking.
  • At places like Airports where there are not enough power outlets for everyone who needs to use one, I can charge up to three devices — my laptop, my mobile phone and another small mobile device (e.g. iPod, Amazon Kindle) while taking up only one power outlet on the wall. That’s a nice, friendly thing for my fellow passengers.
  • If I happen to be carrying a compatible tip and a colleague/friend/relative of mine needs to charge their computer or phone, but doesn’t have their charger handy, I am able to help out.

iGo manufactures a number of different chargers. While they are great, they have one shortcoming: At present, notebook tips between different iGo chargers are not interchangeable. (Their sales agent informed me of this in our pre-sales conversations.) For people who only need to have one iGo charger (e.g. for travel only), this is not a problem unless they change their adapter. For e.g., to upgrade from the iGo everywhere85 charger to the higher wattage iGo everywhere130 charger to support their new Macbook Pro (which needs more power than most notebooks). In fact, the iGo Frequently Asked Questions page explicitly states:

No, parts including notebook tips and adapter specific cables can’t be interchanged between adapters. Each adapter falls within a certain electrical range. The parts are designed to regulate the amount of volts and amps that flow in and out of the product. Altering or switching parts can cause serious damage to your equipment.

It would benefit the consumers even more if the notebook tips (and cables) were interchangeable between different iGo adapters. For example, I’d buy 3 or 4 or more iGo adapters:

  • One for travel that I’d take with me on trips and always keep in my travel bag. This would be a wall+car+airplane unit.
  • One for home. This would be a wall-only adapter.
  • One for the office. This would be a wall-only adapter
  • I’d keep a car/auto-only adapter in my car all the time.

This way, when I am at home or in my office, I don’t need to carry or take out my travel adapter. I would only keep & carry the tip with each device (which is much lighter and easier than always carrying the device + tip + adapter).

Also, in the future, I may need to buy new adapters. Say, for example, if iGo came up with a very lightweight one for travel.

Given this situation, which I think is hardly unique to me, it would be useful if iGo notebook tips were interchangeable among different iGo adapters, present and future. It wouldn’t make sense if I had to buy new tips for each device when I get a new adapter.

Having said that, iGo adapters are still excellent.