You may have come across retractable cables before – often found on portable mice for laptops, they wind excess cable into real which is suspended half way along the cable length. What ReTrak have done is improved upon this, added other new technologies and then created a huge range of products. Basically, what you get are a range of electrical accessories that take up as little space as possible.
Their range includes computer, visual and audio cables along with power supplies, headphones, iPhone and eBook products, mice and even a retractable mouse mat with built-in USB hub!
So far I’ve had nothing but praise for ReTrak products and with their universal 70w notebook charger, that’s not about to change. Indeed, this is more than just a retractable version of a standard cable.
As with most laptop chargers, it comes in 2 bits – the transformer “brick” with cable that plugs into your laptop and a separate cable that goes from the transformer to the mains supply. This is usually done so that the latter can be swapped out for different countries.
As usual, ReTrak have put a retractable reel on both cables, the former of which (the one that goes into the laptop) has a slimmer cable due to the lower voltages involved. The whole thing reels out to about 9.5 feet (about 2.8 metres).
The transformer, designed to work on laptops requiring up to 70w, is a pretty standard device and you can plug it into a range of laptops using some interchangeable tips – there are 9 provided in total (more on this in a minute).
The really clever bit is the UK mains plug. ReTrak have created something they call the ThinPlug – a foldable version which makes it truly compact (see the pictures below). And it works brilliantly.
So, the cables reel in and the plug folds down – the chunkiest bit is the transformer – all this does mean it’s a lot easier to keep one in the tight confines of a laptop bag. To top it all off, they supply a handy cloth travel pouch to keep it all in.
Back to the charger tips… ReTrak claim that they will fit 7,000 models. Unfortunately, my ThinkPad Edge isn’t one of them. Or my wife’s Samsung. Or my daughter’s Samsung. So, if you do buy one I’d recommend either checking out the connectivity first or buy it from somewhere that will happily let you send it back if it doesn’t work for you.
There’s only one other issue worthy of note.. the price. This will cost you about £70, whereas it’s not difficult to find an equivalent product (although not with the compactness) for under £20.
[review]The price is a little steep but the engineering is fabulous – if space is at a premium you’re not going to do better. But check that it’s compatible with your laptop first.[/review]