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ReTrak, popular in the US, are now selling their range of products in the UK at retailers such as PC World, Dixons and Amazon.

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!

Now, this is a tricky one. Although not immediately obvious from the product name this is a retractable iPhone/iPod USB cable, and I reviewed a similar product from a pound shop recently. In that case the poor quality of the product let it down as it simply didn’t work after the first attempt. However, I’m guessing they’re not all like that and if you get one that holds up to use a bit more, it’s quite a bargain. In comparison the ReTrak equivalent is around £15 (although at the time of writing this review it can be bought from Tesco for under £10). So, is worth splashing out a lot more for?

In a word, yes.

For a start, you know this is going to work – the 3 year warranty ensures this as well as the fact they’re tested to 5,000 pulls. Although it looks similar to the pound version, all matte white plastic, it isn’t. The quality of the reel mechanism is obviously higher, as is the cable itself. The connectors on the end are a different matter – I prefer the slightly rubberised connections rather than the hard plastic that these are.

As with other recent reviews I handed this over to my teenage daughter (she does, after all, own the iPod in the house). There seems to be a general problem with connecting into the bottom of the latest generation iPod touch – the cable needs to be pushed in square but the base of the device is rounded, making this difficult to achieve. So, it can be tricky getting it just right and it’s a bit stiff (the iPod/iPhone connector, that is). Everything else, however, worked like a dream for her. As soon as both ends are connected the iPod started charging and a quick launch of iTunes got the syncing going as well.

When you’ve finished, disconnect both ends, give them a tug and they retract down to a small footprint that can be easily slipped into a small pocket. Nice. It certainly beats a knotted cable that just gets in the way (stick a couple of USB cables in a bag and it soon becomes a problem!).

Indeed, it’s that compactness that makes this worth the money – no more cables getting in the way during the majority of the time that it’s not in use and it can be neatly stowed away.

[review]As with all ReTrak products the retractable cable mechanism is second-to-none. The iPod/iPhone connector is a bit stiff, but otherwise it’s a breeze to use and provides a neat and compact way to charge your portable Apple device.[/review]