When Zolt announced the Laptop Charger Plus ($100) at CES this year, I was skeptical that the accessory — a practical, logical power solution — would actually make it to market. Zolt promised that it would work with any laptop, including Macs with MagSafe connectors, and at that point, zero third-party MagSafe accessories were available to purchase. But a week ago, a company called Beaver sent us Quarter, the first MagSafe-based battery pack and car charger. And now Zolt is sending out review samples of the finished Laptop Charger Plus, complete with both MagSafe 1 and MagSafe 2 cables (the $20 “Optional MacBook Accessory Cable”), which will hit stores in less than two weeks. Are MagSafe accessories finally about to become a real thing?
The Laptop Charger Plus continues the concept Twelve South pioneered with the $35 PlugBug, leveraging a MacBook wall adapter to charge both your laptop and a USB-based device, such as an iPhone or iPad. But Zolt’s execution goes several steps further, as it fully replaces any 11″ or 13″ MacBook’s wall adapter with something smaller while adding two extra USB ports. Even if the price is a bit steep, the all-in-one functionality may justify the expenditure for travelers with limited bag space…
Zolt’s box is primarily focused on common laptop power tips from major PC manufacturers, ranging from Asus to Dell, HP to Lenovo, Samsung and Toshiba. The Laptop Charger Plus comes in graphite (shown), orange, or violet, and sits in the middle of the box, while a black cable connects to all of the PC tips. As previously noted, Zolt sells the MagSafe cables as a $20 add-on to the system; they were bundled along with our review unit. Finally, though the manual mentions an included carrying case, it was nowhere to be found in the box.
Each of Zolt’s computer charging cables has a specially molded USB plug that’s deliberately designed not to fit into a conventional USB port — this is to avoid a situation where you try to connect the MagSafe adapters or PC charging cable to a regular USB port. Similarly, while the Laptop Charger Plus has three ports, the PC and Mac charging cables will only fit into the top one of those ports, one at a time. You’re not supposed to connect your iPhone, iPad, or other mobile device to the computer charging port. The two regular USB ports each have enough power to charge any iPad or iPhone at full speed, subject to one limitation: the power draw of your computer.
Total power output from the Laptop Charger Plus is 70 Watts. Zolt says that it’s designed to charge “most 40-65W laptops and UltraBooks,” plus at least one additional device such as an iPhone or iPad. Any MacBook of 13″ or less in size will work with the Charger’s power output without an issue. However, in the event that the total power drawn exceeds 70W, an LED on the unit will flash twice, noting that power is being prioritized to the mobile devices, reducing power to the laptop. A constant blink means that the unit is shutting down because of a short or other overaggressive power draw. During my testing, the adapter became warm but not hot to the touch while in separate use with a 13″ Retina MacBook Pro and an 11″ MacBook Air, which is expected behavior as per the manual. I wasn’t able to get the white light to flash during regular charging, though I suspect that there are circumstances where a 13″ laptop, an old iPad 3/4, and an iPhone 6 Plus all operating under full loads would be able to create a power draw issue.
The Laptop Charger Plus is small — 3.6″ long by 1.3″ wide, with folding blades for easy storage. That’s not much larger than a typical 4,000mAh tube-shaped battery pack, and markedly smaller than most MacBook wall adapters. The blades can be rotated 90 degrees to improve access to the 3 USB ports as needed, and your choice of included PC/Mac cables can be wrapped around the Charger for storage.
Should you get the Laptop Charger Plus? Mac users will probably flinch at the total price of the unit plus the MagSafe cabling, which is almost twice the price of most Apple MacBook power adapters. But if you need something that’s much smaller than carrying around two or three Apple adapters, Zolt’s design accomplishes a lot given its size. And from my perspective, the more MagSafe charging options that people can choose from, the better.
MacBooks with MagSafe 1 or 2, iPads, iPhones, iPods
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Apple should have come out with something like this. The one thing that really pisses me off about their chargers is that when the Mag Safe plug wears out, which they do frequently, you have to buy a whole new charger. I have always thought that was so retarded, why not just make the damn cable with the Mag Safe replaceable? I have at least 4 or 5 of their chargers laying around that are useless because they’re shorted out at the connector.
Totally agree, mine lasted about 18 months and I’m not paying £65 for a new brick. I bought a new cable on eBay for £3.99 and soldered it myself. Only problem is the case is glued and a pig to get it back together. If you look at the reviews on the Apple website it’s full of people with the same problem; Apple really need to step up when it comes to Macbook chargers.
I’ve used the Photive 50 Watt 6 Port USB Desktop Rapid Charger, which has been a god-send for trips both in the States and international. Six USB ports that allow simultaneous charging for all of my iDevices and non-iDevices (laptop, iPad, iPhone, Kindle, iPod, etc.). Each USB port individually compensates for increased/decreased voltage based in what area of the world I’m in. This Zolt sounds like a very similar product to my Photive, yet my Photive costs only a quarter of what the Zolt costs.
Can you get a Mag Safe cable for a Macbook with it?
why??? just use a usb to usb-c cable
Paul Andrew Dixon, I would like something with a replaceable Mag Safe cable to charge my Macbook Pro with. It can’t be done with a USBC cable.
Yes, as the article clearly states: “And now Zolt is sending out review samples of the finished Laptop Charger Plus, complete with both MagSafe 1 and MagSafe 2 cables (the $20 ‘Optional MacBook Accessory Cable.’)”
oops, never mind, I see you are asking about the “Photive 50 Watt 6 Port USB Desktop Rapid Charger” that Chris Sutter mentioned, and not the Zolt Laptop Charger Plus that this article is actually about. Never mind :)
For travel i can sort of see the appeal – but personally i have no issues just plugging stuff into my laptop to charge… if i am visiting friends and family they nearly almost always have usb wall adaptors … plus you get the cables free with your devices, you get the plugs free with your devices, all you need is a mini extension cord that has multiple plug sockets — i live in japan, i can get a 2 socket extension cord, with 2 usb ports, for $25 – and then just need the travel adaptor which costs about the same (and i can use with all my devices that require a plug and not usb) meaning that i save $50 and have more usages…
The only benefit this has is space saving – but for $100 – that means space costs a lot of money
nice accessory, but a little late for MagSafe. Otherwise, a very compelling product. With usb-c being the future, I expect all next-gen MacBooks (Pros / Airs) to ditch the MagSafe port in favour of the new standard. But as a frequent traveller, I very much like this product and I’d likely buy it, were it out with an EU plug as well
They must be out of business. Their website is unavailable. Amazon is still selling a version for non-apple computers, but no manufacturer’s contact information is available. I bought one on the Kickstarter campaign. It has been great.
The Zolt I bought, along with its replacement (with two different MagSafe 2 tips) was never able to reliably charge my 13″ MacBook Pro, even though it was supposed to be compatible, at 65W. I got the “constant blinking” that this review mentions — and that was without any mobile devices plugged in. What a disappointment. Thankfully I was able to get a full refund from Zolt… before they apparently shut down.
I am now using a Dart from FinSix instead and it’s been working great: https://finsix.com/dart/