Remember the FlexUSB? It was a little USB adapter from IDEATIVE that allowed you to position a USB connector in a variety of ways when faced with a cramped space. Now, these same folks have a new product. It’s the Flipit! USB Charger, which will let you charge a USB device when you don’t have an available wall socket or a free USB port on your computer. No, it’s not magic, but it is innovative and possibly useful.
The Flipit is a small White plastic module that has a female USB connector on one end…
And a special power plug adapter on the back.
This plastic adapter looks like super thin wall port and can swivel 270°.
At first glance you might wonder how the heck the Flipit even works. I was scratching my head till I took a very close look at the top two slots in the rotating adapter.
If you click the image above, you’ll be able to see the very small metal contacts that line the top two plug slots. This is what carries power to the USB adapter.
All you have to do is slide a 2 or 3 prong cord into the Flipit adapter and then into an empty wall outlet.
Next plug in a USB cable (not included) for the device that you wish to charge. The Flipit provides 5V/750 mA of power. IDEATIVE plans to offer 1 Amp version very soon.
Like magic, the Flipit will charge the device just as if it were plugged directly into the wall using its own USB enabled AC adapter. I tested this adapter with a Kindle 3, iPad, iPod mini, iPhone 4, and a Droid X. All of the devices appeared to charge just fine except for the iPad, which displayed a “Not Charging” message in status bar. Unfortunately, the iPad requires more juice than this adapter can provide.
In addition to the iPad charging issue, I also found that the Flipit will not work well if you need to use it with a ”wall wart” adapter. Some AC adapters will work with no problems, but the larger ones are too big to fit in the Flipit adapter. The Blue part of the Flipit isn’t long enough to allow the plastic around some AC adapters to clear the body of the USB part of the charger.
One thing that might not be obvious is that to use the Flipit, you’ll need something already plugged in to an outlet to use it.
We can all probably agree that the Flipit is a clever device. But is it really all that useful? How often have you had the experience where you needed an AC outlet to charge a USB device and did not have one? Most of us either have power strips or a USB hub at home or the office. That said, I can remember instances where I have had to juggle outlets in a hotel room while traveling. But after such an experience I started carrying a very small 4 port USB hub with me that solved that problem. For that reason, I’m not sure the Flipit is the most cost effective solution for traveling since it only offers 1 additional USB port. If IDEATIVE offers a slightly larger version with 2-3 USB ports that can also handle charging a device like an iPad, I’d be much more likely to recommend it.
I still think it’s really clever and will probably keep this one in my gear bag just in case, but am not sure it will get used very often.