By November 30, 2010

Meritline 12V to 5V USB Car Charger Review

One of the things I hated the most about portable devices were all of the proprietary power jacks. Sometimes manufacturers will standardize on jacks — for example, Motorola-made mobile phones use all the same type unless it’s a Moto smart phone — but you still have a bunch of oddly-shaped adapters.

A few years ago, third-party accessory makers started to make charging cords with the proprietary jack on one end, and regular, full-sized USB jacks on the other. This made it really easy to charge your mobile devices from your computer. I spend a lot of time in front of a computer every day, so this was super handy. Unfortunately, there wasn’t an easy way to use these third-party cords in the car.

That is, until about a year or so ago, when 12V (cigarette plug) to 5V USB adapters started to become a lot more common. These days, everyone is making them, including big names like Kensington. I went to Meritline, my favorite online purveyor of questionable gadgetry, and bought a two-pack for $3.99USD shipped.

There are three important things about the USB car charger adapters that I really like:

  1. It’s a full-strength, 5V charger. Sometimes USB chargers are 3.3V, which may keep a device alive but may not be enough to return it to a full charge.
  2. It is a low profile charger. Some 12V-to-USB adapter are shaped more like a wand. This form factor is sometimes hard to plug in depending on the layout of your car’s interior, but it is always annoying. If I used a wand-shaped adapter in my Mazda it would interfere with my gear shift.
  3. It’s less than four bucks — for two.

I was worried about the adapter “over-charging” whatever I plugged into it, so I tested it with my Sansa Fuse MP3 player. I’ve kept it powered / charged this way for about two weeks with no ill effects. I have also used the plug to charge up my HTC Droid Incredible phone, which it does without a complaint.
One of the USB cigarette lighter adapters in the jockey box of my Mazda. Note the older, unused chargers at the bottom.

You can get similar looking 12V-to-USB adapter car chargers from US-based sellers, but you may wind up paying $8 or $9 each for a device that is just the same. If you’re not in a hurry (these have to travel overseas), then I definitely recommend going with Meritline.

Strongly recommended.

Posted in: cars, review

1 Comment on "Meritline 12V to 5V USB Car Charger Review"

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  1. bc says:

    I have a similar one that I love, because it is all the things that yours has, but it has TWO usb plugs in it, in a small form factor as well.

    similar to this one:
    elago Dual USB Auto Charger