CARD Travel Adapter 4-Pro review: a card-sized universal travel adapter and charger
Mon Jul 23, 2018 · 5 min read
Mon Jul 23, 2018 · 5 min read
The CARD Travel Adapter 4-Pro is aptly named. This credit-card-sized charger is, honestly, a bit of a unicorn.
When I recently went on a mission to slim down my out-of-hand charging supplies (more on that in a later post) I knew my success would likely hinge on finding the key component: a universal adapter that could charge my laptop, phone, and everything else, but without being bulky or heavy. I know, I’m dreaming, right?
Well don’t pinch me, ‘cause I found it. After putting this guy through the acid test as my only charger on a recent 3-day trip, I can confirm that it checks all the boxes.
The adapter is a successful Kickstarter that didn’t actually suck, and was designed and engineered in Singapore. It comes in a thoughtfully designed box and includes a carrying case and USB-C to USB-C cable. (I’d already ordered one from Anker for myself, so I gave away the included cable. I’m not sure on its specs.)
The CARD Travel Adapter 4-Pro is well built, looks and feels sturdy but isn’t heavy. In fact, it really is credit-card sized, and doesn’t weigh much at all:
It weighs less than a 45W Lenovo USB-C Adapter, which itself weighs 170g, and only really does one thing. This adapter does a whole bunch of things, namely, charging all my electronics with just one unit.
With the USB-C port, I can charge my laptop (a Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon). Any of the USB-A ports will fast charge my iPhone, my Apple Watch, camera, and all my other peripherals. Since the output to the USB-A ports is shared, if I want to take advantage of the fast charging, I’ll charge my phone by itself first.
Here’s a chart showing the results of my (unscientific) test using the CARD to charge my iPhone 8. I plugged in my phone and didn’t use it throughout the charging time, except to turn the screen on briefly to check the percentage.
As is expected with fast charging, I got a very quick gain initially that tapered off later. My iPhone went from 21% to 71% in 35 minutes, a 50% charge gain that aligns pretty closely with what Apple has to say about Fast Charge. The quick gains taper off after 45 minutes or so. At an hour and a half, the battery was at 99% for a while before finally deciding to flip over to 100%.
Update: Oct 19, 2018: I’ve now been travelling for months with the CARD Travel Adapter 4-Pro as my sole charger. It’s worked just fine for me in countries using 110V as well as 220V.
CARD, an acronym for Compact And Revolutionary Design, has really taken their mission to heart. The various plugs for the adapter all fold into its back in a genius fashion. Accessing them requires removing the protective back cover, which also stores a spare fuse.
The back cover is possibly the flimsiest part of the unit, being made from a flexible plastic. I imagine this is to allow for some play since it will often be removed and replaced. Time will tell if its flexibility is an asset or detriment to its durability.
The plug design is really nice. All the different configurations seem to have been placed so that they’ll do their best not to block the second socket with the charger in use. This isn’t going to be true in every case, of course, as the positioning of wall outlets differs wildly all over the world. However, the fact that each plug type opens into a position to the far side of the brick gives me the impression that this is some very conscientious design.
A clever sliding lock lets you switch between the EU and US/UK plugs. Even the indication on the sliding switch is cleverly placed, but you’ll have to look closely to see it.
The front of the unit provides a universal socket that takes UK, EU, AU, and US plugs. The third earth pin, if any, sits outside the unit.
Besides a slight concern over the flexibility of the back cover (time will tell!), I’m pretty sure that the smooth plastic on the front of the adapter might show scratches. If, like me, you can sometimes be rough on your gear, you might want to keep the adapter in a padded pouch or roll-up cable organizer. I’d point out the included carrying case, however…
It doesn’t actually fit the unit! I suspect I may have had the wrong one in my box, as CARD makes other, smaller adapters (albeit without the 45W USB-C port) that this carrying case seems to be sized for. No matter, the padded case will be perfect for storing my JBL Reflect Mini Headphones.
All in all, I’m very happy with the CARD Travel Adapter 4-Pro. It replaces multiple various chargers I used to carry for all my devices, and cuts down on quite a bit of bulk.
In a future post I’ll talk about the other components of my minimal charging set up - stay tuned!