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The kwikSynCh cable and charging tips.
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Pros

Low cost, compact, portable solution

Cons

Occasional operational glitches

The lowdown

The kwikSynCh cable and charging tips (mTips) comprise a compact, easy to use, flexible, portable, and low cost charging solution for all those who deal with the care and feeding of numerous battery-powered equipment in a mobile life. It’s comprised of the kwikSynCh cable, which plugs into your computer’s USB port, and provides two ports to plug in custom charging tips to accommodate all your mobile devices. I found the system to be excellent for traveling, saving you the hassle of carrying a backpack full of AC adapters in addition to your laptop.

Our problem

My favorite irony in our so called “wireless” lives is the fact that we’re mired in wires. Sure, everything has a battery now and communicates over a tiny fraction of the available airspace, linking friends, families, and complete strangers. Even from the middle of nowhere Madagascar, I was only a few DTMF tones away from contacting a friend on the street back home in the US. Even with our unlimited connectivity, the wires that feed our hunger and desire for communication and computation are stifling.

Before using the kwikSynCh, I counted at least four unique chargers (and cables) that were stuffed into my backpack at most times. The resulting rat’s nest effectively made them all useless, and wasted a lot of space. (I’m going to stop motivating the problem now, as I’m probably preaching to the choir.)

My solution

The kwikSynCh is a short USB cable that allows you to use the power from your computer (laptop or desktop) to charge your mobile devices. I love the idea because it’s so simple and brilliant (and came from an MIT startup). On top of the value it provides to the mobile electronics user, it’s priced at a level that blows competing solutions (individual chargers for each device) out of the water.

My backpack, which was once a tangle of wires that would even make Medusa’s skin crawl, is now a place of packing, storing, carrying, and other things that a backpack should be. All of my portable devices are charged by a compact, robust unit that could easily and comfortably fit in my pocket. I carry a kwikSynCh with two custom charge tips, one for my phone and one for my Bluetooth headset. When I need to charge them, I simply plug the device into the custom tip, and the other end of the kwikSynCh into my USB port and voila!

Looking the SynCh cable in the mouth

As much as I love the concept and the usability of the idea, it’s unfortunately not without faults. Although the device does have two ports, I found that my laptop’s USB port was unable to source enough current to charge more than just my cell phone. If your devices exceed the power rating of your USB port, the port detects the surge and shuts itself down.

I initially found this to be quite an annoyance, but over time came to accept it as coming with the territory. Given the choice between the hassle of dealing with a mess in my bag continuously, or rarely having to think about charging my devices serially (actually, I don’t think they’ve ever been dead at the same time), the choice was a no-brainer.

The bottom line

Despite the annoyance of an occasional USB surge as you learn the limits of your computer’s ports, this product is worth more than the $15 tag it wears on the MDI Web site. You can buy custom tips from MDI directly for $7 each, at http://www.syncharger.com/kwiksynch.htm.