Product Review: 5 Travel Adapters Go Head-to-Head
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Travel adapters, at first glance, seem like a mundane concern. Just pick one and go, right? Not exactly. While many of them offer the same conveniences — worldwide charging in over 150 countries — size, weight, speed and sturdiness can make or break your charging experience on the road.
Here’s a round-up of five different devices that stand out from the pack.
LOOP makes a range of travel accessories, including several different adapters. When deciding which to review, I opted for the latest 3.0 model that included an integrated battery, something atypical to the traditional adapter model. Loop calls this version the “Swiss Army Knife” of travel adapters because, as mentioned, it features a built-in 3000mAh power bank (a second version ramps it up to 6000mAh), a universal AC plug socket and dual USB charging ports, all of which can be used simultaneously. It includes all four of the main international plugs (US/EU/UK/AU). The model comes in black, blue and pink.
Pros: The integrated battery came in handy during long car rides on a recent trip to China. I also appreciated that I could charge my laptop, iPhone and iPad at once, although I seldom needed to. Also, all the international plugs were integrated into one device, so there weren’t any little pieces to manage.
Cons: It had a bulky frame compared to the others in this round-up. It was also clumsy when plugged in, falling out easily if not nest.
Verdict: B- for bulk, average charging speed and awkward fit, but if you don’t have an external battery on hand, it could provide a boost in a pinch.
Buy: Amazon, $15
Savvy travel company FLIGHT 001 designs sleek yet functional accessories for everyone from casual travelers to road warriors. Their most recent adapter model, the 5-in-1, is a compact system that fits together like a puzzle cube. Featuring a series of color-coded detachable plastic adapters, it includes all four main international plugs (US/EU/UK/AU), each with an AC port and an additional piece with 2 USB ports at 2.1amps that can be plugged into any of the adapter pieces.
Pros: It was attractive, light and compact. The bright colors might help you remember the adapter in the hotel room by catching your eye. If you’re only traveling to the EU, remove the small green piece, attach it to the white piece for USB support, and you’re ready to go.
Cons: If you’re prone to losing small objects, then this might not be the best option. Of course, the cube shape is meant to help you keep track of them by giving every adapter a place to fit, but the unit didn’t come with a carrying case, just the original hard box. If you plug the USB charger into the adapter’s only AC socket, you can’t simultaneously charge, say, a laptop.
Verdict: A- for looks, size and weight. Travel with the entire unit or toss the pieces you need in a plastic bag. Just a tad expensive.
Buy: Amazon, $35
Highly rated on Amazon, the BESTEK is listed as a #1 bestseller with 2,357 reviews, 1,000 answered questions and 4.1 stars. This unit is meant to provide an all-in-one adapter solution, convert 90-220V to US voltage (110V) and charge seven devices simultaneously via four USB charging ports, plus three AC ports. The unit comes with a 24-month warranty and claims over-current, over-load, over-heat and short-circuit protection, although USB outputs are isolated from the AC power. It’s advertised as compact at 6 x 3 x 1.57 inches, but a 5-foot detachable power cable adds weight and bulk. The power cable comes fitted for the EU, while three international adapters (US/UK/AU) lend combined support for over 150 countries. Comes in white and black.
Pros: This unit charged a slew of devices simultaneously. With three AC plug ports and four USB charging ports, this adapter will power a small family or a professional with an assortment of electronics in constant need of charging. Offered surge protection. Came with a velvet sleeve.
Cons: For one person with a laptop, tablet, iPhone and camera batteries, I found this device overkill due to size and weight. Also, while advertised as a converter, the fine print advised not to use it for a hair dryer, hair straightener or curling iron, regardless of wattage. Finally, the converter’s fan made a constant whirring sound, a feature I found annoying.
Verdict: Depends. This device came in last on my list for a solo, streamlined business or leisure traveler, although someone with greater simultaneous charging and/or converter needs might grade it higher.
Buy: Amazon, $40
Pac2Go is a travel accessories company founded by longtime travelers who started designing products to fill needs they had on the road. The latest model of their travel adapter, an all-in-one 2.5 inch cube, features integrated plugs (US/EU/AU/UK) to eliminate the need for multiple adapters, one 8-hole universal AC socket and four USB ports (2 x 2.1A and 2 x 2.4A). Comes in black.
Pros: Lightweight, had multi-charging capabilities and came with a nylon carrying case. Also, if you’re traveling with a non-US companion, they can plug their AC devices into the universal socket, too.
Cons: You had to remember to set the plug control switch to the desired country before you could eject the correct adapter, lest you risk breaking it. Also, it’s length and width precluded it from fitting into tight or recessed spaces like the AC socket on my recent United domestic business class flight (Boeing 737-800).
Verdict: Solid “A” for everything mentioned above. I’ve even started using this at home for its consolidated four USB ports.
Buy: Amazon, $27
A 4 x USB port travel adapter, this 5-star Amazon rated device is currently the cheapest of the bunch in this round-up at $18 (for white). It has two ports for faster charging of larger devices like tablets (2.4A) and two ports better suited to cell phones and smaller devices (2.1A). It’s certified safe due to built-in “smart IC” meant to protect against overheating, over-load on the unit and over-charging onto the devices. The device has a built-in US plug which folds down to allow either an EU or UK removable adapter to slide over it. Does not have AU compatibility; does not have an AC socket; comes in white and black.
Pros: Fast charging, sleek design, lightweight.
Cons: The negatives are what it lacked: incompatibility with AU and didn’t have an AC socket. Plus, loose pieces and no carrying case meant keeping track of small objects.
Verdict: Depends. Most business travelers need an AC socket for laptops, rendering this model useless. But for those who can streamline their devices down to USB-charged only, then it’s a good, affordable option.
Buy: Amazon, $18
Since price points don’t vary too drastically, pick a unit based on the features. If you’ve got to charge a lot of devices on the road and worry about surge and power conversion, go with the Bestek for around $40. Otherwise, it’s too much product for the average traveler. The Flight 001 5-in-1 is great and lightweight if you don’t care about an all-in-one device. If you do, opt for the universal Pac2Go. Of course, if you’ve slimmed down your electronics to USB devices only, then the Syncwire is a good option.
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