01/03/2012

Mu USB charger, not quite what it should be

In 2009 design student Min-Kyu Choi designed a folding plug that became a big hit on the Internet, though many people were sceptical it would ever become a reality as it wouldn't meet the strict British Standards required for UK mains plugs.

Choi then joined forces with Matthew Judkins to form Made in Mind to develop folding plug systems.

The first product released is the Mu USB smartphone charger (though they say they'll be releasing a tablet charger later in 2012 followed by the folding plug designed to power laptops).

The Mu is actually 14mm x 55mm x 60mm, so almost square and quite thin (suitable for putting into a laptop case pocket). Unfortunately even when folded the earth pin protudes from the end by about 5mm - though it is plastic so shouldn't scratch anything - one of the live/neutral pins also extends just beyond the curve of the Mu and this could scratch something as it's bare metal.


The charger is very easy to use, just open the side flaps and twist the live/neutral pins through 90 degrees (so they move from vertical to horizontal, which also locks the flaps in place) and then it can be plugged into a mains socket.

The charger will support most low power USB devices such as smartphones as it supports 5V at 1A.


Not perfect

The protruding plastic earth pin isn't ideal and the protruding live/neutral metal in is definitely a flaw. If the case was 1mm larger then the metal pin wouldn't protrude at all and a 5mm larger unit would mean the earth pin wouldn't either. The earth pin could also have been linked to the opening of the flaps so it extended when they were opened and contracted when closed (the earth pin is plastic and is just there to open the live/neutral gates on a UK mains socket, it's not needed for the USB adapter to work in terms of circuitry).

Future

Though Made in Mind say they are going to produce a folding mains plug, the industry is still skeptical whether it will meet the very strict requirements of BS 1363 covering UK plugs.

The unit is available for order at TheMu and will ship on 28/02/12 and costs £25.
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