Hands-on with the Nomad ChargeKey Lightning cable

This keychain-friendly cable goes where you go for convenient charging and syncing of your iDevice. A Micro-USB version is in the works as well.

The Nomad ChargeKey comes in Lightning (shown) and Micro-USB versions.
The Nomad ChargeKey comes in Lightning (shown) and Micro-USB versions. Nomad

The Nomad ChargeKey aims to solve a common problem: There's never a sync cable around when you need one.

You know the routine: You're killing time at the airport and suddenly realize that your iPhone battery is down to 6 percent. There are USB charging ports everywhere, but you don't have a cord. As long as you have your keys, however, you're in business.

True to its name, the ChargeKey is a key-shaped cable with a USB plug at one end and a Lightning (or Micro-USB) connector at the other. With it, you can sync or charge any late-model iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. I tried it with a fifth-gen Touch and an iPhone 5c, and it worked as advertised (which is to say the Lightning plug would appear to be certified; a lot of cheapie cables are not, and flat-out don't work).

The ChargeKey is currently available for pre-order, with shipping expected to start in February. Same goes for the Micro-USB version, which is identical save for that connector. Both "keys" are made of a very durable-feeling bendable rubber.

Needless to say, this is a really convenient item to keep on your keychain. It would have made for a great stocking-stuffer if it had been available in time for the holidays, when finding an ideal gift outweighed a somewhat inflated price.

Now, however, $25 (the preorder price for both versions, shipping included) seems pretty steep. I'm all for convenience, but to me this is a $10 to $15 item. (Cheapskate tip: If you sit idle on the Nomad site for a few minutes, you should see a pop-up window offering you a 15-percent discount code in exchange for tweeting, following, or liking Nomad. That's a savings of $3.75, for a total price of $21.25 -- still on the high side, but a bit more palatable.)

That said, if you frequently find yourself in need of a charge cable and don't want the hassle of packing an actual cord everywhere you go, the ChargeKey makes an excellent travel companion.

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