I had not planned to review any more products that connect to the 30-pin connector that is found on the iPhone 4S and earlier models and the third generation iPad and earlier models. The future is the Lightning connector. But some smart folks in Los Angeles came up with a product called the ChargeCard that is so neat that I couldn't resist trying it out when the developer sent me a free review sample of this $25 product. Plus, a new version with a Lightning connector is supposed to come out in May.
This is one of those products for which a picture is worth a thousand words, so take a look at the following photographs and you will understand the portability of the ChargeCard and how it works:
The ChargeCard is about the length and width of a credit card, and about as thick as three credit cards, but even though it is incredibly thin, it has a flexible rubber "tongue" in the middle with a USB connector and 30-pin connector on the side. Thus, if you have your iPhone or iPad with you, and if you have anything that sends power to a USB port with you (such as a laptop computer), you can pull the ChargeCard out of your wallet and charge your iOS device. No need to carry around a USB cable. And if connected to a computer, you can sync using the ChargeCard.
In my tests, the ChargeCard worked as advertised. It is somewhat awkward to use, and distance is limited so you have to keep your iPhone very close to the USB port, but of course those are inherent limitations of a product this small and thin. The ChargeCard does let you charge and sync an iPhone, so it is indeed something that fits in your wallet that can take the place of a USB to 30-pin connector cable.
As noted above, the developer is working on a version with a Lightning connector that will work with the iPhone 5, the fourth generation iPad, the iPad mini — and with future iPhones and iPads, considering that I suspect that Apple will stick with the Lightning connector for many years to come. Here is an artist rendering of the Lightning version of the ChargeCard that is still in development:
The ChargeCard is a really neat idea. It is always a pain when you toss a USB connector cord into your briefcase, only to have it unravel and get tangled on everything. The ChargeCard's small size means that it is not as versatile as a USB cord, but on the other hand, it could not be any easier to carry, whether it be in your wallet or a small pocket in your briefcase. This 30-pin version works well, and when the Lightning model comes out, I could see it being very useful to me.
Click here to order the ChargeCard from the developer ($25) [30-pin model shipping now; Lightning model shipping in May of 2013]