Review: ReTrak Universal 90W Notebook Wall Charger

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Short Version: A universal notebook adapter with retractable cabling that extends to almost ten feet in length, comes with nine adapter tips, and features two USB charging ports.

Features:

  • 90-watt universal notebook adapter
  • Nine adapter tips
  • Retractable cables extend to provide 9.5-feet of total length
  • Includes two USB charging ports
  • MSRP of $99.99

Pros:

  • No tangled cables
  • Built-in USB charging ports
  • Decent system compatibility

Cons:

  • Not all that compact, despite marketing claims that it’s “up to 60 percent smaller than competitors.”

Review:

When it comes to universal notebook adapters, it’s important to keep a couple things in mind. First, the term “universal” is a bit misleading as you’ll be hard pressed to find the Mag Safe adapter tips used with most of Apple’s notebooks. But that’s more of a legal/patenting issue than an omission by universal adapter manufacturers.

Second, most of them are priced pretty similarly so it’s a good idea to focus on certain features that appeal to you. The 90-watt ReTrak Universal Notebook Wall Charger, for instance, sports two built-in USB charging ports and a retractable cabling system for $100 as its way of differentiating itself (there’s also a 70-watt version available for $80).

When I first wrote about this item back in October, I saw the product photo and thought, “Hey, this thing looks pretty tiny.” And, indeed, it’s billed as being “up to 60 percent smaller than competitors.” Here’s the product shot:

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You’ll notice that the retractable cord doodads in the above photo appear to be small compared to the main adapter housing. In real life, though, they’re not nearly as svelte – see the photo I took at the top of this post for a more accurate depiction.

So my initial reaction after actually opening the packaging was more like, “Oh, it’s about the same size as most of the other adapters I’ve seen.” It absolutely may be a bit smaller than some adapters out there, but I’m not sure where that 60% figure came from. That must have been a gigantic adapter that was used for comparison.

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For the sake of our own comparison, here’s the adapter next to a 90-watt Sony adapter (on the right) and a netbook adapter (on the left). As you can see, it’s actually kind of big. Remember that you get the two USB charging ports, though, and the retractable cabling extends out to almost 10 feet in length without getting tangled up in your bag.

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Both retractable cables can be detached from the adapter, which is a nice feature, and you get a little carrying bag for transporting the main parts of the adapter and the tips. As for compatibility, the adapter works with various notebooks from Acer, Compaq, HP, Fujitsu, Toshiba, Gateway, Sony, and Dell (see the full list here).

The product works as advertised – I tested it with a 13.3-inch Sony, a 15.6-inch Gateway, a 15.6-inch Sony, and even an 11.6-inch Acer netbook, as well as several USB devices (iPod, iPhone, MP3 players, PMPs, pocket camcorders) with no problems whatsoever.

Bottom Line:

Even though it’s not actually all that compact, the ReTrak universal charger’s tangle-free cabling, broad system support, and nice added bonus of two USB charging ports helps it to stand out from similarly-priced adapters. If you’ve got a handful of notebooks and a pile of portables that have made travelling an unbearable mess of adapters and cables, this ReTrak adapter can help to simplify things considerably.

Product Page [EmergeRetail.com]

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