My latest gadget goal is to lighten my gear bag load by half the weight and half the junk. One way to do that is to reduce the number of cables that I carry to just the bare essentials. I am not sure how they managed to breed, but looking in my gear bag pouches, I found several micro USB, mini USB, Apple, and USB to USB extension cables. So I’ve been looking at shorter cables, dual cables and multi-tip cables like the Visible Green Data/Charge Cable for Apple and USB Visible Light Multi-Charge Short Cable that Brando recently sent me.
Note: Click the images in this review to see a larger view.
Besides performing normal sync and charge operations, these USB cables offer a unique feature that may seem silly at first, but is actually very useful. Let’s look at the Visible Green Data/Charge Cable for Apple first.
This cable is 36 inches long end to end. It’s available in either Black or White that you see here. The cable itself is flexible, yet sturdy feeling and a Velcro strip is included to keep the cable tidy when not being used. The USB end looks a bit like a flash drive due to the extended plastic sleeve. That sleeve holds the circuitry for the unique feature that this cable offers…
When you connect the cable to your computer and an Apple device (iPhone, iPad, iPod), Blue LEDs in the cable will start “flowing” from the USB end to the 30 pin connector end. The LEDs move at a faster rate depending on how much juice the device needs to fully charge the battery. When the device is fully charged, the LEDs turn off completely. Since Apple devices don’t have their own battery status LEDs built in, you can imagine that this is a quick way to know if your iPhone or iPad is fully charged without having to press a button to wake it up and check the onscreen battery status.
You can also choose between different cable colors and LED colors as this cable is offered in Blue-LED Black Cable, Violet-LED Black Cable, Blue-LED White Cable and Green-LED White Cable.
If you like the LED feature but need a cable that works with more than Apple products, the USB Visible Light Multi-Charge Short Cable includes 8 different tips:
- Nokia I (3.5mm)
- Mini USB
- micro USB
- Samsung i900
The cable is similar in style as the first one I showed you. It is 12 inches long and also has a White plastic flash drive looking sleeve on the USB end. But the other end has a connector so that you can attach one of the included tips.
I tested the Apple connector, micro USB and mini USB connectors.
Like the other cable, the LEDs move faster when it’s charging and then slow down to almost a stand still when fully charged. I never did see this cable stop glowing / moving though…
One thing to keep in mind is that this cable is for charging only. If you need to sync data, you’re out of luck…
See it in action
In the first part of the video you see how the LED looks when a device is fully charged. If you pay attention, it moves, but very slowly. The 2nd part of the video shows the first cable and how fast the LEDs move when the device is charging.
I like the multi-tip cable because it’s shorter, but I’m afraid I’ll misplace the main tips that I need (micro, mini and Apple). I almost wish there was a version that had 3 cables coming out of the USB end. One with micro USB, one with mini and one with Apple.
As is, the USB Visible Light Multi-Charge Short Cable is the better buy since it includes 8 different tips. But just remember that it’s for charging only…
I really like the LED feature and now wish all my USB cables had it. What about you, do you think moving LEDs are a gimmick or a useful feature?