At a Glance
Unviersal AC charger for all iPods (FireWire and USB)
If you travel with your iPod, it’s always handy to have an AC charger, especially if you don’t always bring a laptop along. (Even if you do, having a charger means you don’t have to keep your laptop running just to charge your iPod.) We’ve recommended Sonnet’s $20 iPod USB Power Adapter in the past, but PowerLine’s new $25 musicPower Univeral AC Charger is also a good bet — and works with more iPod models. Like the Sonnet charger, the musicPower includes a swing-out AC plug, and although larger overall than Sonnet’s offering, the musicPower is thinner, so it doesn’t seem quite as bulky. But what makes the musicPower stand out is that instead of a single USB port, it provides both USB and FireWire ports — in other words, it can charge every iPod ever made, from the original iPod to the shuffle to the nano to the iPod (with video). All you need is the dock connector cable that came with your iPod. (Sonnet’s charger includes a USB dock connector cable.) If you have an iPod shuffle, you can connect it directly to the musicPower’s USB port.
PowerLine also claims that the musicPower is the only iPod AC charger on the market that simulates a USB data connection; some USB iPods apparently don’t charge via USB unless they detect such a connection. I can’t independently verify this; in fact, Sonnet makes the same claim about their charger. What I can tell you is that the musicPower successfully charged every iPod we threw at it.
The musicPower is also able to charge other USB-powered MP3 players using the player’s own USB cable. On the other hand, in case you’re wondering, the musicPower can’t power USB and FireWire hard drives. That would have been a nice bonus for those times when your FireWire hard drive isn’t getting enough power from your laptop’s FireWire port; then again, the musicPower wasn’t designed to do this, so I can’t fault it for lacking such a feature.
If you’ve got an older iPod that charges only via FireWire, the musicPower is the most compact charger we’ve seen. If you’ve got multiple iPods, older and newer, it’s the only charger that can handle all of them.–Dan Frakes