- Solid, compact build; sleek appearance
- Can charge a computer and a USB device simultaneously
- No loss of power; charges just as quickly
- Compatibility issues with many devices
- Not any more compact than some chargers
- Can only charge two devices at once
Quick TakeThe mCube Slim from Innergie is a far cry from universal, as advertised, and offers little more than the chargers included with your devices.
The Innergie’s mCube Slim Universal Adapter attempts to be a universal charger for dozens of different computers and devices, but given the fact that it can only charge computers with its power cable, a built-in USB charging port serves as the only means to charge other devices, many of which cannot charge via USB.
So for many people he only scenario in which this device would really be preferable to your regular chargers, then, is on the rare occasion that you’re carrying around multiple computers and would like one charger that can juice all of them.
DESIGN & BUILD
The bulk of the mCube slim is a 3.9 x 2.2 x 0.7-inch power brick—no more compact than the size of my netbook charger—that has a 5V USB port and a power cable with a female outlet on the end of it that connects to any one of the included tips, allowing the charger to plug into most laptops and netbooks.
Next to this port is a smartly implemented switch, allowing you to change the voltage range of the power cable from either 15V-17V or 18V-21V, depending on your machine’s needs. Unfortunately, the switch is a convex nub that can only be flipped by using a pen, which is a minor annoyance.
It’s a shame that the mCube Slim can only charge two devices at a time, and two very specific ones, at that: one has to be a 15V-21V device that is compatible with one of the included tips (which basically means it has to be a computer, but I’ll get to that), and one has to be a USB device. This isn’t a charging hub with adapters that allow you to mix and match what devices you have charging simultaneously, like with the Idapt I3, but rather, it has very specific devices in mind.
Although the mCube Slim comes with such a wide selection of interchangeable tips that allow you to plug into machines made by over a dozen different manufacturers, these are really only for netbooks and laptops. The 15V-21V range is much too high to charge anything that isn’t a computer, leaving the USB port as the only option for devices that charge using a lower voltage. Needless to say, many devices don’t have USB charging cables, but Innergie attempts to remedy this issue by providing a free “Magic Cable”—a USB charging cable with a couple of different tips to accommodate certain phones, GPSs, or other devices—with any purchase of a laptop charger. We did not receive a Magic Cable with our review copy of the mCube, so it is difficult to speak to how much this helps. Voltage issues, however, still remain, so this may not always serve as a solution.
Take, for example, my Sony PlayStation Portable; besides the fact that there is no included tip that would fit it anyway, its voltage is 5V, which means it would fry if I tried to plug it into the power cable of the mCube Slim. USB is out of the question here as well, since there is no USB charger for the PSP. Same goes for my Nintendo DS (5.2V) or other devices, like certain phones. Needless to say, gamers like me—with their portable gaming devices and peripherals—are going to feel a little left out in the cold here.
I wouldn’t fault Innergie’s device for these problems if the company hadn’t claimed that this was a universal charger; lack of compatibility with so many devices besides computers, be it due to voltages or plug types, makes “universal” seem like a bit of a false moniker in the description of the mCube Slim.
The mCube Slim is very simply constructed, but with a nice, solid feel. The compact power brick has a glossy white finish and a blue LED that lights up when charging, and the brick can be detached from both cables so it can be packed away easily with the included carrying case.
All of the included tips that plug into the female outlet on the end of the power cable fit snugly; nothing ever felt flimsy or as if it were at risk of becoming detached while charging.
The mCube Slim comes with 10 different adapters that work with notebooks and netbooks from myriad companies, including Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, IBM, Panasonic, Samsung, and Sony, among others. There are no sorts of labels on the tips that offer any sort of insight into which ones work with which brands/computers, but there is a small chart in the packaging that has suggestions. Even with this, however, there can still be some trial and error; I have a Compaq netbook, for which the chart suggested using either tip A, B, F, or I. Naturally, it was the last one I tried.
There may be a lot of little interchangeable tips to keep track of, but the mCube Slim comes with a nice little carrying pouch for them, which in turn can be tossed into the carrying case and have everything in one place. I thought this was a nice touch.
However, notably absent is a charging tip for the iPhone, iPod touch, or iPod. I checked the Innergie web site, and it doesn’t list a tip for Apple products.