Travel Tuesday: InCharge Cables Review — Tech Minimalism for Travel
Over the years that my wife and I have been traveling together, a funny thing has happened. While we’ve managed to become incredibly efficient when it comes to packing clothes, toiletries, and the like, the amount of tech we now need to bring on every trip only seems to grow. Granted, part of this is related to the tools we need to do our jobs, but nonetheless it can be a bit much. Even worse, bringing several different electronic items often means packing several different chargers, cables, and dongles.
That’s why I was excited to see the words “tech minimalism” on a display at this year’s CES event. The booth in question belonged to a company called Rolling Square, makers of InCharge cables among many other products. After getting a look around their line-up at the show, I went home and purchased two of their cables for myself: the InCharge 6 Max and the InCharge X. Alone, each of these two cords can charge the vast majority of my tech items. Together, they are now (nearly) the only two cables I feel compelled to pack with me,
What are InCharge Cables?
So what’s the deal with these cables? Well, each features six different configuration options via five different input types (with only four actual inputs, but we’ll cover that in a minute). To do this, each side of the InCharge cable features a removable part that, when taken off, reveals another plug option. What’s also nice is that this removable part does stay attached to the rest of the plug so you don’t lose it. Both cords also feature a handy magnet to keep the two sides of the cord neat.
The InCharge 6 has a USB A on one side, which removes to reveal a USB C plug. Conversely, on the other side is a USB C plug with a Lightning/Micro USB plug underneath. Meanwhile, the InCharge X starts with the same USB A on top/USB C on the bottom side but reverses the other side to be Lightning and Micro USB on top/USB C on the bottom.
On the topic of that Lightning/Micro USB feature, you may be a bit confused since those two connectors look basically nothing alike. Alas, that’s what I thought until I saw the clever way InCharge managed to make this dual-purpose adapter work. It’s subtle, but it works.
How I’m Using My InCharge Cables
To give you an idea of how I’m using my InCharge cables, here are some of the various items I packed that can be charged using them:
- Bose Sleepbuds
- Portable powerbank
As for what they don’t cover, I can only really think of one main exception: my Apple Watch. Granted, that has more to do with Apple than InCharge — and I can’t think of a way they could integrate support for the watch while keeping a sleek design. Oh, also, I didn’t bother trying to charge my computer with either cable.
I suppose now is as good a time as any to explain why I choose the InCharge options I did and cover the costs. First, I knew I wanted to try one of InCharge’s super compact keychain cables. However, I also wanted a longer cable so that my device wouldn’t always have to reside so closely to an outlet. That’s where prices came in.
Currently, on the InCharge site, the short InCharge X goes for $29 while the InCharge X Max is $39. Meanwhile, the InCharge 6 shorty is $19 and the InCharge 6 Max is $24. Because of this, I figured it made the most sense to try out the short InCharge X but go for the cheaper InCharge 6 Max for my lengthier option.
As for why I bought two when each cable offers so many configurations, the answer is pretty simple: I want to be able to charge more than one thing at a time. Also, as I mentioned, I like these two different cable lengths for varying needs. So, that’s the plan I went with.
Beyond just charging, InChange cables can also be used for other tasks. For example, I employed my InCharge X to connect my external hard drive to my laptop while editing. According to Rolling Square’s site, the cable offers data transfer speeds of up to 480 Mbit/s. This seemed to be just fine for my needs as I had no issues. However, later in my editing process, I had switched to my InCable 6 Max instead. That’s when I noticed that I was having issues trying to playback my project. Initially, I thought my computer or Premiere were having issues —until I realized that the cable may have been to blame. Sure enough, after switching back to the X, my playback issues resolved themselves.
Although there’s a chance this could have just been a coincidence, I’m thinking that the InCharge X just offers superior transfer capabilities, allowing it to cleanly playback video from my hard drive while the InCharge 6 struggled to do the same. Sadly, the site doesn’t offer too much info, just noting that the InCharge 6 supports “both charge and sync,” but not citing transfer speeds. This further leads me to believe the X is an upgrade in this department. Because of this, if I had to do it again, I might have splurged for the longer InCharge X in addition to the smaller one, but I’m happy with what I have as well.
In terms of any other downsides of the InCharge cables I have, they’re all pretty minor. For one, for as cool as the design and ability to switch between input types is, the way the adapter part hangs down when you’re using the bottom connector can sometimes get in the way. Because of this, I make sure to position it the way I want it ahead of time, such as having it face toward me when plugging in my phone so that I can lay it down on a table without having a “kick stand.”
Similarly, given the InCharge X’s compact design, it can be a little difficult to connect a device to your laptop and have it sit or lay nicely if you’re using either of the bottom connectors — and is especially true if you’re using both bottoms. Then again, using top to top connections isn’t 100% either as you can accidentally disconnect the charger if you’re trying to adjust something. Again, these issues are mostly nitpicks and outliers. Nevertheless, they are worth mentioning lest you encounter them in your use cases.
Final Thoughts on InCharge Cables
Truth be told, eliminating a few charging cables from my suitcase isn’t really going to make or break me when it comes to packing. Still, it is very nice to simplify my travel electronics situation. Plus, there is peace of mind knowing that I’ll be covered with just these two cords and not worrying that I left something specific behind. For those reasons, I’d give the InCharge site a look and see if any of their cable options are right for your travel needs or just everyday use.