TIME Gadgets

Tiny New Laptop Charger Could Be Mistaken for a Cell Phone Charger

FINsix_Dart
The FINsix Dart is a 65-watt laptop charger that's about the size of a cell phone charger. FINsix

Back at the CES gadget show in January, yours truly laid eyes on FINsix’s pocketable laptop charger. As someone who hates — hates — stuffing a bulky laptop charger into a bag full of modern-day, svelte gadgets, to say the idea of this charger was intriguing to me would be an understatement.

The charger was developed by a few MIT alums, using a patented MIT technology known as very high frequency (VHF) conversion that shuttles power from wall sockets to devices at a much higher frequency and more efficiently than standard chargers, allowing FINsix’s version to be scaled down to its diminutive stature. The charger also sports a USB port for good measure, which you can use to charge your phone or other small devices.

The group used a Kickstarter campaign to raise $200,000 for production of the charger, which is now being called the Dart. That goal was met within 24 hours, with 1,000 early backers getting in at $79. Back at CES, FINsix told me the retail price would be around $90, and it looks like there’s an $89 option that’s still available to potential backers.

When the charger was first unveiled, it was shown off with a MacBook-compatible MagSafe adapter — the connector that magnetically attaches to a MacBook and can quickly detach without damaging the computer if someone trips over the cord. The problem was — and still is — that Apple doesn’t license the MagSafe technology to third parties.

FINsix has found a way around this hurdle, but it doesn’t come cheap: If you want a Mac-compatible Dart, you’ll need to shell out an additional $79, which is used to purchase an off-the-shelf MacBook charging kit from Apple in order to get access to the magnetic connector. The Dart can also only charge laptops up to around 65 watts, which means the 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pros and the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display aren’t compatible.

PC users have it easier, as the Dart is compatible with most major brands (see this PDF here for the full list). Just make sure you have a machine that draws 65 watts or fewer at between 18 and 21 volts.

FINsix is aiming to start shipping the chargers out to backers by the end of the year.

Dart: The World’s Smallest Laptop Adapter [Kickstarter]

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