I had to fight a couple of co-workers for this thing. It’s a strange thing to fight over, I realize, but we are strange people with a strange job. And more importantly, I won. I’m plugged into the PowerPort Atom as I write this. It’s keeping my 13-inch MacBook Pro alive via the plane power outlet tightly squeezed behind my legs.
I travel a lot, and I try to travel light. Determining what goes into and what stays out of my carry-on feels a bit like stocking delivery rockets for the International Space Station sometimes. But I feel pretty confident in saying that this tiny little plug just scored a permanent spot. Well, until the PowerPort Quark comes along, I guess.
One of the beauties of Apple’s switch to Thunderbolt 3/USB-C is the modularity of it all. I’m sure Apple will tell you to stick to official and officially licensed products, but the ability to mix and match these things has given us some solid options, and Anker’s right there to reap the benefit. The products the company makes are rarely flash or sexy, but they’re often genuinely useful in a way few accessory manufacturers can claim.
As someone who has owned a lot of Apple chargers over the years, it’s pretty remarkable what Anker has done here. I’d recently switched to Google’s PixelBook charger for travel, but that has nothing on this. Hell, the Atom is smaller than some phone chargers I’ve used over the years.
It’s small and white, with a single USB-C port. It’s not quite as slim as, say, a standard iPhone charger, so it can get a bit tight alongside some larger chargers (RavPower’s dual-USB charger, for instance), but it frees up a lot of space. And in scenarios like the plane I’m typing this from, you’re a lot less likely to accidentally knock it out with your leg, leaving you fumbling blindly to plug it back in.
It’s not a perfect thing, of course. It can get quite hot to the touch when charging something large. And don’t even think about charging up, say, your 15-inch Pro. With certain outlets in certain scenarios, the charging process could be downright sluggish. I can’t remember ever seeing “Estimated Charging Time: 10 hours” before.
For the most part, I’d recommend the Atom for those instances when you want to maintain a charge, rather than filling the battery up quickly. I fully expect to continue to bring the full-size charger along with me for when I get back to the hotel and need to fill it back up for the night.
In an ideal world, Anker would have somehow squeezed in an additional USB-C or full-size USB port to charge two devices at once, but that kind of request is probably flying too close to the sun here. And hell, at $30, one is still an excellent deal.