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Mobee Magic Bar review: Mobee Magic Bar

Mobee Magic Bar

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David Carnoy
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David Carnoy

Executive Editor / Reviews

Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable e-reader and e-publishing expert. He's also the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks and Nook e-books, as well as audiobooks.

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Mobee Technology bills its Magic Bar as "a greener way to use your Apple Bluetooth Keyboard and Magic Trackpad."

Mobee Magic Bar
7.3

Mobee Magic Bar

The Good

The <b>Mobee Magic Bar </b> replaces the AA batteries that power your Apple Wireless Keyboard or Magic Trackpad with a rechargeable battery pack that offers inductive charging. It's easy to set up, and it's made out of aluminum that matches up well with your Apple accessories.

The Bad

It doesn't charge when your computer is completely off. The included USB cord could be slightly longer.

The Bottom Line

The Mobee Magic Bar is a great way to add easy, (mostly) cordless recharging to your Apple Wireless Keyboard or Magic Trackpad.

That's because it allows you to replace the two standard AA batteries that typically power Apple's two popular computer accessories with a rechargeable cylindrical battery pack that gives you about 10 days of usage time.

Mobee says it all takes a minute to set up -- and it does. Just pop out your existing batteries, slide the battery pack in, and screw it into place (the screw-on cap that holds the standard batteries in their bay is no longer needed, but you'll probably want to keep it in a safe place). No extra tools are required. Just your hands.

The main piece of the Magic Bar is the "base station" that connects via USB to your computer and serves as a dock for inductively charging the battery pack. You can obviously store the base station out of sight and disconnect it from your computer when don't need it for charging, but I think you'll be fine leaving it on the desk -- Mobee's done a good job matching Apple's aesthetics, and the base station appears as if it could have been made by Apple itself. It's constructed out of aluminum and is recyclable, according to the company.


Here's what comes in the box.

For the uninitiated, "inductive" charging works when the product is placed in the cradle (like some electric toothbrushes). You don't need to plug in anything; you simply place the rear of your Apple Wireless Keyboard or Magic Trackpad sitting in the dock for the battery to charge. Most people will charge the battery overnight and you should get about two weeks of use before you have to recharge again.

Alas, the Magic Bar only comes with one rechargeable battery so if you have both Apple accessories, you'll need to buy a second Mobee battery (they cost around $25). As noted, the base station is compatible with both the keyboard and trackpad; you just have to dock them separately when charging. (If you want to charge them simultaneously, you'll need to buy two separate Mobee kits.)

The USB cable length is just more than 41 inches. It could be a little longer, but I was able to plug the cord into a USB port on the back of an iMac and run the cord under a desk to a keyboard I have in a slide-out tray (the cord just reached; it was close). You can always buy a USB extension cable, but I would've preferred if the cradle's cable was longer -- say, 1.5 to 2 meters (59 to 79 inches).

It's worth noting that you can charge your keyboard or trackpad while using it at the same time. However, you can't charge anything if your computer is completely turned off (though if it's in Sleep Mode, it will charge). I also tried charging using a standard 5-volt USB wall charger that would charge your typical smartphone -- that worked, too.


The Apple Wireless Keyboard, seen "docked" with the Mobee Magic Bar.

This rechargeable battery solution is more expensive than picking up a set of standard rechargeable batteries and using those instead of alkalines. But I didn't get much battery life when I used NiMH rechargeables (only a few days) and found the Mobee to be a much better -- and more convenient -- rechargeable option.

The big question is how long will it take for you to recoup your investment. Based on a $60 sale price (the product can be had for slightly less online), Mobee says it'll take a year but it's probably closer to two given that you can get good deals on bulk battery packages online. The good news is Mobee's rechargeable battery is rated at 500 cycles (recharges), so it should last several years before having to be replaced.

Conclusion
It can be hard to sink $60 upfront on batteries for a product that costs about the same price (the Apple Wireless Keyboard goes for around $60, the Magic Trackpad costs $69). Eventually, however, your investment will pay off. And on the green side of things, you don't have to worry about chucking all those one-use alkaline batteries in the garbage and having them end up in some landfill. (True, some people dispose of batteries properly. But many don't.)

In the end, the Mobee Magic Bar may not seem like the best deal at first glance, but it's a well-designed product that makes a good companion to the Apple Wireless Keyboard or Magic Trackpad and will save you money down the road.

Mobee Magic Bar
7.3

Mobee Magic Bar

Score Breakdown

Design 9Features 6Performance 7