Tech, Autos, & Gear in Layman's Terms Since 2006

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May 12, 2011 • Reviews

Car Audio Accessory Review: XtremeMac InCharge Auto iPhone and iPad Chargers

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If you spend a fair bit of time in the car, it makes sense to have a car charger for your electronic devices. I know I have always kept one handy for my iPhone, since topping off my iPhone when I drive from place to place is always useful — especially on long days when my iPhone would otherwise NEVER make it through the day. Things became a bit more complicated when the iPad was released, since it requires a 10w charger, and most of the previous adapters aren’t up to the task. XtremeMac has rolled out a few car chargers that solve this and work with the iPhone, iPod touch AND the iPad. They sent two models over for us to take a closer look. Both include rapid charging and a fuse to ensure that your precious device charges safely!

The first is a car charger with a detachable USB cable that is a great choice if you use other devices in addition to iPhones and iPad, since Apple still uses their proprietary adapter in their iOS devices. The second doesn’t have a detachable cable, but it does have a pass-through for a line out so you can plug your iDevice into your car stereo’s Aux port (assuming there is one).

Let’s take a brief closer look.

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First up is the XtremeMac InCharge Auto USB.

From XtremeMac:

Charge your iPod, iPhone or iPad in your car with XtremeMac’s InCharge Auto USB. This compact, low profile charger provides 10 watts for fast powering and charging on the road. InCharge Auto includes a detachable USB cable for charging and syncing with a computer. The USB port can also be used to charge most other USB
devices.

Powers and charges iPod, iPhone and iPad

10 watts provides rapid and safe charging

Compact design fits 12V accessory outlets

Includes 1meter detachable cable for charging and syncing

LED power indicator indicates proper connection

Self-resetting fuse for superior device protection

 

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The iInCharge Auto USB is a simple device. It consists of two parts. The first is the USB adapter that plugs into your car’s power port. The second is the USB cable with a USB connector on one side and the proprietary Apple dock connector on the other.

There isn’t much to say about this particular item, except to note that it is a quality piece of kit. The USB adapter is as small as possible but feels heavy-duty enough to work reliably for quite some time. This isn’t something you can assume since less expensive USB adapters tend to fall apart after a short period of time. The included cable has a decent amount of weight to it. In fact, it is heavier than the one Apple provides.

In short, if you simply need to charge you iPhone, iPod touch or iPad while in the car AND you want the flexibility to charge other kinds of devices at times, you can’t go wrong with this accessory.

But what if you want to go a step further than merely charging your iDevice? That’s where the InCharge auto AUX car charger comes in handy.

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From XtremeMac:

XtremeMac’s InCharge Auto Aux is a compact car charger with a 3.5mm auxiliary jack for listening to your iPod, iPhone or iPad while charging. This low profile charger provides 10 watts for fast and efficient powering and charging on the road. InCharge Auto Aux includes a 3.5mm aux cable for a simple and convenient connection for listening to your music while charging. It’s the perfect solution for line out quality in cars equipped with an auxiliary jack.

Powers and charges iPod, iPhone and iPad

One piece design with tethered 1 meter 30 pin cable

Convenient connection for listening to audio devices while charging

10 watts provides rapid and safe charging

LED power indicator indicates proper connection

Includes 3.5mm aux cable for connecting your device to your car stereo

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The cable on the InCharge Auto AUX is not detachable. That means this is a cable designed to work specifically with Apple products. That loss of flexibility might be a problem for some, but if you ONLY need to charge an iOS device you don’t need the extra flexibility.

Like the InCharge Auto USB this accessory is nicely constructed and looks to be up to the task of keeping your charged for quite some time.

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The package includes a 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable and does so for a good reason since it has an AuxIn plug built into it. If your car stereo has an AuxIn function, you can simply plug this cable into the charger and the car stereo and the music will flow from your iOS device THROUGH the dock connector and into the stereo. It is a simple and clean solution for charging your device AND enjoying the music from it while on the go.

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Now the reasonable question you might be asking is, “Why do I want or need this functionality since I can still plug the AuxIn cable from my stereo directly into the device itself? Isn’t this entirely unnecessary?”

The short answer is “Yes… And no.”

Yes, you can still plug the AuxIn cable directly into the car stereo, but you actually gain two important things by doing so through the XtremeMac Auto AUX. First, when you use the Auto AUX the ONLY way to control the volume of the music is through the car stereo since it bypasses the iDevice itself. This simplifies controlling the music AND ensures you will not be fussing with the small device while barreling down the highway. The second, and more convincing argument, is that with this adapter you can leave the AuxIn plug in place and never need to think about it. If you go the route of plugging the device directly into the car stereo, you need to make two connections — to the charger and to the car stereo — each and every time you get in the car. The AuxIn cable means you ONLY need to plug in the dock connector to be charging AND rocking out. It is a small thing, but try it the other way for a day or two and you will appreciate the convenience. I know I did, and I tried it both ways for a few days.

In short, if you use your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad a lot, you really should consider one of these car chargers. They are quality products, albeit a bit pricey (especially for the $49.99 InCharge Auto AUX).If you don’t need the line-in music functionality, go for the less expensive charger with the detachable USB cable. All the more-so if, like me, you are in a mixed marriage and your partner used something like a BlackBerry. If you listen to a lot of music and your car does not have integrated Bluetooth, consider the InCharge auto AUX. Either way you will get a product that will work well and last quite some time.

Both car chargers can be ordered directly from XtremeMac. The InCharge Auto USB can be found here. The InCharge auto Aux can be ordered here.

MSRP: InCharge Auto USB $24.99; InCharge Auto Aux $49.99

What I Like: Good quality and heavy-duty; not a lot of bells and whistles which makes for ease of use

What Needs Improvement: They strike me as a bit pricey, particularly the InCharge Auto AUX

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