What do you get when you cross a power charger with a 1TB portable SSD? The iXCharger, a 65W compact charger with 1TB of built-in storage and automated backup features.
A trio of startups, Phihong, Vinpower and Silanna Semiconductor, came up with the novel idea and expect consumers to foot up around $200 (about GBP160, EUR186, AUD306) when it launches later this year. Smaller capacities will be available but more powerful chargers - especially useful if you want to power the Apple MacBook Pro - won’t.
In an email exchange, a spokesperson for the company told me “The unit we are showing at Computex is still a prototype, we anticipate a pilot run out in late June and then full production by August. With that said, we haven’t finalized the costs to determine pricing yet, but our expectations is to have a market price of between $50 up to $200 depending on the size of the memory from 32GB up to 1TB”. Enough to replace a NAS.
A Type-C connector means that you will be able to use the charger across various devices (laptops, desktops, smartphones) but we don’t know whether that could extend to “dumber” platforms such as smart TV, digital cameras or Android boxes. The charger uses a third-generation GaN technology and a world travel kit with plenty of plug adaptors.
A free app will be available for Android and iOS users to enable automated backup should you not use either Google Drive or Apple iCloud drive.
The end of the line
One can expect the iXCharger to go on sale on popular marketplaces like Amazon and Newegg later this year but there’s a lot of questions still outstanding? What sort of memory is being used and what sort of performance can be expected. Could a future version with Type-C ports that allow data to be transferred be launched? Isn’t the end goal just a tiny laptop docking station located inside a plug? Can the storage be used offgrid (i.e. without connection to a power supply?).
The humble plug has, for decades, been a device fertile for experimentations and projects, some wackier than others. The two that we fondly remember are the Quanta Compute plug which was unveiled to the world, almost eight years ago at Computex and the Sunvell T95P which I reviewed back in 2017. Both of these are complete computers, one running on Windows and the other on Android. And let’s not forget the one that started everything, the Sheeva Plug from Marvell that launched in 2009 and ran on Linux.
I’d love the team behind iXCharger to try something like this as this could prove to be a boon for businesses that want to deploy something quickly and cheaply without having to worry too much about desk space. A PC that fits in a plug and can run Windows 11 Pro would be a great candidate for our best business PC or our best mini PC buying guide. That’s food for thought.