Van Hauser iSuperCharger
We've covered a few multi-purpose iPod chargers in the past, including Incase's excellent home/car model. But Van Hauser's new iSuperCharger easily bests the competition by offering not one, not two, but four different ways to charge your iPod.
At first glance, the oddly-shaped iSuperCharger looks like an oversized car-accessory-jack ("cigarette lighter") power adapter. And in one respect, it is: plug it into your car's 12-volt accessory jack, connect the attached dock-connector cable to your dockable iPod, and the iSuperCharger will power and charge your iPod.
But you're not limited to car charging. At the end opposite the car adapter is a fold-out wall plug; plug it into any 110-volt household outlet to charge your iPod. A USB plug attached to the side of the unit connects to any USB port on your computer, or to any USB power adapter (including Apple's own), for charging your iPod via USB. Finally, on the opposite side of the iSuperCharger is a 9-volt battery connector; plug a 9-volt battery into the connector and your iPod is charged even if you're nowhere near a traditional power source. (The company claims a new 9-volt battery can provide 18 hours of music playback; we didn't test this claim.) Although our first review unit did not provide power via the AC wall plug, two subsequent review units performed properly, successfully powering and charging a variety of dock-connector iPod models. (The company told Playlist that that the original review unit was from a "first group" of samples; the two latter units were from later production runs and allegedly reflect the product available for purchase by consumers.) It's also worth nothing that -- contrary to Van Hauser's claims -- the iSuperCharger does not charge third-generation (3G) iPods
A green light on the iSuperCharger indicates when it's receiving power. Although useful, this light does require a bit of power of its own, so if you're charging your iPod via 9-volt battery, be sure to disconnect the 9-volt from the iSuperCharger when you're done to avoid wasting any leftover juice.
My biggest complaints about the iSuperCharger have to do with its short cables. The USB cable is only one inch in length; if your computer's USB ports are crowded, you may have to unplug a few other USB devices to connect the iSuperCharger. And although the dock-connector cable extends from its coiled length of 7 inches to a more reasonable 30 inches, it doesn't do so without considerable pulling; I would prefer a longer cable so you don't have to keep your iPod so close to your power source.
Those complaints aside, this is a unique and versatile accessory for the iPod owner who has a frequent need for power on-the-go. Although bulky compared to other iPod power adapters, most of those adapters work with only a single source of power. When you consider that the iSuperCharger can power your iPod at home, in the car, from a computer, and using a 9-volt battery, it's actually fairly compact compared to the amount of space it would take to carry separate chargers.
Van Hauser iSuperCharger
4-in-one charger for iPod.