David Artiss

Tag: ReTrak (page 1 of 2)

ReTrak USB Laser Travel Mouse

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!

One of the items that most travellers with laptops will need is a mouse and ReTrak have a portable solution for that. Their Laser Travel Mouse is a small (but still comfortable in the hand) mouse, in a fetching combination of both matte and shiny grey, that has a built in retracting mechanism for hiding away the cable when not in use. It works equally well if you’re left or right handed and has the now-traditional 3 buttons (the scroll wheel being clickable).

For my own laptop I use a Bluetooth mouse but often find the connection erratic – you really can’t beat a wired mouse for rock solid use. ReTrak have provided a very thin cable with this mouse which means it, unlike traditionally wired mice, doesn’t get in the way. However, I did find that it tends to curl up as a consequence of this.

Underneath the mouse is a small compartment. You open this, retract the USB cable and then the compartment closes again – a thin slit in it allows the cable through. It couldn’t be any easier and the retracting mechanism, as always with ReTrak products, is smooth. The whole thing is 2.5ft in length when fully retracted.

In use the mouse is nice under the hand and moves well. It has a 1600 dpi precision and scans at 6700 fps, which is excellent. As with many ReTrak products it comes with an excellent 3 year warranty.

Reviews of the product on the PC World site shows the only downsides reported are the length of the lead (which is fine if using this with a laptop, but not with a desktop – but why would you? It’s designed for portability!) and, bizarrely, that the lead is thin.

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[review]Another cracking product from ReTrak. The mouse is excellent in use and the retractable cable gives you the convenience of a cordless mouse but without the connection issues. Normally this would cost £19.99 but can currently be bought from PC World for less than £5 – an absolute bargain![/review]

ReTrak Boom Mic Headset

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!

For those people who only occasionally need to use a headset for a phone and don’t want  the expense (or silly look!) of a Bluetooth variation 1, then a wired headset is an ideal compromise.

ReTrak have improved the standard design by adding re-tractability to the cable. Otherwise it’s pretty much what you’d expect elsewhere – a button on the side lets you pick-up and drop calls and an adapter allows you to connect to both 2.5 and 3.5″ sockets.

For testing  I passed this to my teenage daughter who made a number of voice recordings on her iPod Touch using the headset, which she then played back through the same headset. Quality was excellent – very clear, although background noise was equally audible. She found putting the clip over her ear tricky but liked the fact that you can pull it off and mount it the other way around, allowing you to wear this on either ear. On the back of the earpiece is a handy belt clip.

The cable is 1 metre long and the product comes with a lengthy 3 year guarantee. For the audio experts amongst you, it has a sensitivity of 119 dB, impedance of 32 ohm(s) and a frequency of 0-20 kHz.

[review]An excellent sounding, compact wired phone headset. It can be a bit fiddly and it doesn’t filter background noise particularly well, but with an RRP of just £9.99 (inc VAT), it’s a bargain.[/review]
  1. or indeed, the power drain as you’d end up leaving Bluetooth on all the time[]

ReTrak Kindle 4-in-1 Charger Adapter

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!

Up until now my ReTrak reviews have mainly been of basic retractable cables. However, this is different – a Kindle charger that works via USB, mains or car power outlet. It’s a meaty box with lots of options for the Kindle owner.

In the box you get a retractable a Micro USB cable that you can use to connect your Kindle to a USB device to charge. The cable is up to the usual high standard of ReTrak devices – it works smoothly and is well manufactured.

However, you also get a power connector. This is made of black, glossy plastic and has a number of functions. On one end are 2 USB sockets – you can not only connect your Kindle to this but something else as well. The output of these is 1.2A, which I assume is each, not across the two. This would make this over twice the power of a “standard” USB charger, so you will find your device charges quicker than usual. Pull the pointed cap off the end and there’s a plug for a car power outlet so you can charge your Kindle (and other devices) whilst “out and about”. Lastly, fold down the red pin on another side and you have a mains plug. As with other ReTrak products this uses the ThinPlug technology to reduce the plug’s footprint to a minimum.

All of this will work with Kindle 2, Kindle 3, Kindle 3G, Kindle DX and Kindle Fire.

Once again I passed this onto my daughter to try out and she immediately came across the one and only issue – because of the horizontal design of the adapter when plugged into the left hand side of a double mains socket it will obscure the right socket. Plug into the right socket and, although it doesn’t obscure the left socket, it’s very difficult to access the USB connector on the left of the adapter if something is plugged in next to it.

My only point of note is that with this device I can’t see the advantage of the ThinPlug design – normally it allows the earth pin to be folded down allowing the resulting device to be shortner, much better for mobility. However, for this adapter the physical charger unit limits the height and the folding pin doesn’t make the unit much smaller. Indeed, because of the other pins sticking out at right angles to the main unit the device isn’t as practical as other ReTrak products for packing away in a bag.

For a limited time PC World are selling the Kindle 4-in-1 Charger for £9.99, instead of the usual £24.99, representing a 60% saving.

[review]A brilliant all-in-one charging solution for the Kindle. As it works with other Micro USB devices as well (and, in fact, you can plug any USB charger into the actual charging device) you can also use this for all sorts of other devices too. Well made, only the the fact it tends to block other mains sockets being a weak point.[/review]

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ReTrak USB 2.0 Charge & Sync Cable

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]

 

ReTrak Headphone Splitter Cable

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!

The latest ReTrak product that I’ve been looking at is their headphone splitter cable. This is a male audio plug which then separates into 2 female audio connectors. Essentially this allows 2 people to share one audio output.

As with the other products in the range the cable coils away onto a retractable reel – and, again, the quality is excellent with a smooth action both ways.

The cable is 1m in length and all the connectors are gold plated. It comes with a 3 year warranty, which is excellent if you’re worried about the retractable mechanism.

For testing I passed this to my 13 year old daughter – just the kind of person likely to want to share music through separate headphones. In fact, she’d bought a headphone splitter in the past.

She found the output extremely good (in fact she thought it sounded better than connecting directly into her iPod – not sure how that would work though!) and was impressed that each output was stereo – the splitter cable she bough before simply split each channel into a different headphone, meaning that each listener had monaural output. Her only negative was that she found that the 2 cables would sometimes get a little tangled when retracting.

The ReTrak Headphone Splitter Cable can be found at Amazon for £14.99.

[review]An excellent quality headphone splitter with the added bonus of the compactness that the retractable mechanism gives. Because the cable splits into 2 it can get a little tangled at times but the length warranty ensures you don’t need to worry.[/review]

 

ReTrak Retractable HDMI Cable

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!

What I particularly like about ReTrak’s range of cables is that even when they produce a version with multiple connections, they still make individual cheaper versions too.

Take, HDMI cables. ReTrak have 4 in their range – 3 with specific connections and 1 with a “exchangeable tip” connection.

The 3 with specific cables all have a standard HDMI male connector on one side and then either another matching connector on the other (EUCABLEHDAA) or a micro (EUCABLEHDAD) or mini (EUCABLEHDAC) connector. The first is the “standard” connector that you’ll probably find on your PC, monitor or TV. The mini and micro connectors are often found on smaller devices, such as tablets or mobile phones – the micro is a lot smaller and lots very much like a micro USB port.

What all 3 cables have in common is their high quality retractability (however, due to the extra size of the reel needed to accomodate the wider HDMI cable, there’s now a button that automatically reels the cable back in), 1.5m cable length, version 1.4 compatibility, 10.2 GB bandwidth and 3-year warranty. Oh, and they all retail at £29.99.

I tried the standard connector to plug my ThinkPad Edge into my Samsung HD TV. It worked with any hitch and the image and sound was perfect.

Lastly, there’s the “multi pack” version which has interchangeable connectors. By default it has a standard HDMI connector on both ends, but also comes with a micro, mini and VGA connector which slots onto either end to convert the format. Indeed, the standard reel is the same one as in the EUCABLEHDAA pack. Each connector holds in place by two plastic “legs” which slot into ridges that run down the standard connectors edge. The cable is the same standard, bandwidth, etc, as before and still comes with a 3 year warranty. The RRP reflects that this is a 4-in-1 cable and retails at £39.99.

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[review]Without the re-tractability the standard cables can be had for a lot less. However, all 4 cables are excellent quality, as always for ReTrak, and if portability is what you need these are superb. The 4-way multi-pack version is particularly good value.[/review]

ReTrak Micro USB 3-in1 Wall Charge & Sync

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!

I’ve now had the opportunity to review a number of ReTrak products and, I have to say, I’ve now find my personal favourite!

There are 2 variations of this product, with slightly different plug socket variations. Both, however, come with a retractable 1m cable with a male USB connector on one end and a micro USB connector on the other.  Alone this cable can be used for connecting various products to a computer’s USB port – many phones (inc. Blackberry, Android, etc.), MP3 players, cameras, Bluetooth headsets, the Amazon Kindle and even the Sony Ericsson LiveView. Use it to sync to or charge from the computer.

However, you also get a mains socket with a female USB connector. Plug the supplied USB cable into it and you now have a mains charger for the very same devices. It uses the same ThinPlug technology as their laptop chargers, which means that the earth pins folds down, leaving a flat plug – much more convenient for storage. An LED light lights up when the mains power is on – reminding you that power is in use even when you don’t have a USB socket connected to it. Power is 1000 mA, twice the power of many equivalent chargers, giving your device a quicker recharge time.

The two versions available are the UKM5GTHINW and the UKCHGWSCM5 – the former is a thinner, longer plug, which sticks out further from the socket. The latter sticks out less but is a lot rounder as a result.

Both  come with a 3 year warranty and will retail around the £19.99 mark.

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[review]Fast recharge, folds neatly up and a reasonable price too – this is a brilliant use of retractable cables and the ThinPlug technology. Well worth having.[/review]

ReTrak Retractable Universal 70 Watt Notebook Charger

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!

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]

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ReTrak / PC World Competition – Winner announced!

The ReTrak / PC World competition came to a close last week and I can announce that the winner was…

Joe Cushnan from Worksop

Congratulations to Joe.

The correct answer was 20 – there are 20 ReTrak products for sale on the PC World website 1.

  1. at the time of the competition[]

ReTrak Retractable USB 2.0 Cable With "Star" Adapter

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!

The product I’m looking at today is their Retractable USB 2.0 A-Male to A-Female Cable with Multi-Tip “Star” Adapter. Long name – short product.

It’s a retractable USB cable, using the same inertia reel system that was used on their audio cable (pull out the cable on both ends to unwind it and then simply give them a light tug for them to reel back in again) with male to female ends. It also comes with a 4 way “start” adapter which plugs in the end, allowing you to connect USB-B, Mini 5-Pin, Micro 5-Pin and Mini 4-Pin.

The cable length is 1.3m with a transfer rate of over 480 Mbps. Again, it comes with a 3 year warranty, so you can be sure that reel is going to continue working.

At £19.99, this is a bit more pricier than the audio cable and, to me, seems to represent slightly less value for money – if you can get it for £15 then I’d consider it a much better prospect. However, it is compact and is ideal for throwing into a laptop bag for most eventualities.

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[review]An assortment of USB connections in a compact solution. A 3 year guarantee ensure it’s resilience but the price could be a little lower. None-the-less, a worthy computer accessory.[/review]
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