One thing I have to deal with in this line of work is having an ungodly amount of chargers plugged in to keep my things powered up. For example right now on my desk there is two PS Vita plugs, three tablet plugs, an iPhone plug, and two plugs for different cameras. I am constantly looking for ways to let me charge multiple things from one device in the hopes of eliminating the rats nest of wires that accompany all of these chargers. While I’ll probably never find something that will work with some of the proprietary connections (really is it so much to ask for everyone to use a standard USB or micro-USB connector?), the Joy Factory has come up with a pretty good idea in the Zip Mini Touch-n-go.
The design of the Zip Mini Touch-n-go is simple and complex at the same time; it will sit on your desk looking very unassuming, but it does a heck of a lot. It is a small round puck with four little depressions on it – these depressions are where the magic happens. Each has magnets in them that are used to hold what the Joy Factory calls “Zip tails”. These Zip tails have magnets in one end (obviously or the whole idea would be pointless), but also connectors that transfer power from the puck base station to whatever you are charging on the other end – simple, yes?
The Joy Factory says it is an answer to induction mat chargers, and I can see how that comparison can be made. Neither form of charging tech will make you remove a cord before you can walk around with your device (let’s be honest here, most devices come with a six to eight inch charging cord – no where near long enough to move around with), but the Zip Mini Touch-n-go doesn’t make you put extra bulky cases on your devices to make it work. Someone might say now that the Zip Mini Touch-n-go still uses cords though, right? Oh and the cords on this are only like two inches long – so how is that better? It’s better because you have no need to physically unplug these cords if you need to move in a hurry. The magnets are strong enough to keep a connection, but release with just a small amount of force. Granted it may look silly to walk around with a little dangly tail on your phone, but the time you save from detaching and reattaching the charging cable is worth it.
I do sincerely wish that this had its own built in battery – it would have probably replaced all of my other chargers then. As it is though, the Zip Mini Touch-n-go needs to be plugged in to a standard USB connection in order to get power. While they send a wall plug in the packaging, it is just a lot easier for me to leave it plugged into my computer and keep it stationary on my desk. At least that way I know where the Zip tails are, as I could see someone like me (with a lot of clutter) losing them easily. Now there is a “bigger brother” version of the Zip Mini Touch-n-go called (you guessed it) the Zip Touch-n-go. I don’t know if the larger model has a built in battery as I have never tested it – the only real difference I know is that the larger model can handle charging sixteen different things, while the Zip Mini Touch-n-go can only charge four.
Now just because it can charge four things, doesn’t mean they give you the cables to charge four right off the bat. No, the package comes with two charging cables – one Apple 30 pin charger, and one Micro USB charger. You can buy other cables like a Min USB, but they don’t come standard. In my testing I found that the Zip Mini Touch-n-go charged things pretty fast when two were plugged in – I have heard that the charging power drops significantly when more than three things are plugged in, and even though I can not confirm or deny this, I just want to put it out there as a warning that it could happen. I really hope other manufacturers allow them to make cables for their proprietary cable ends – Sony in particular. I have a Vita and two Sony cameras – all charge on USB power, and none share the same cord; when the Joy Factory gets licensed to use those ends I’ll buy all the Zip tails they want to sell me.
Do I think induction charging is the wave of the future? Absolutely – but big changes like that take small advances to make them work. Hopefully companies will see how well this little beauty performs and will either license out their connectors, or offer to start making Zip tails of their own, because let’s be honest here – the Zip Mini Touch-n-go will live or die by the connector support it has. If the Joy Factory is able to make it appealing to more consumers, I can’t see a situation where this design will fail. Adding in that battery that I want will also do a huge amount of good towards making this a product that every geek will have to have.
The Bottom Line: As it stands right now, the appeal for the Zip Mini Touch-n-go will be there for a specific audience only – however I truly believe that once this product gains more support and a few things are changed, that it will have real mass market draw.
- The Zip Mini Touch-n-go has a very sleek and sophisticated design, and will be a conversation starter
- No having to unplug your phone, or risk it ripping out the charging cord
- A good idea that isn’t just copying off of someone else’s good idea – a rare find today
- Only a limited number of cable ends to choose from could be disastrous
- No batter backup means this has to be plugged in to work
- Reports that power drops too much with more than three things connected is troubling
You can pick up a Zip Mini Touch-n-go from the Joy Factory for $49.95