Tylt Ribbn is a premium, pricey USB car charger for power users

Starting at $40
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Antuan Goodwin/CNET

I've been using the Tylt Ribbn for a few weeks now and, as USB car chargers go, it's pretty awesome. The Ribbn is a 4.8A 12-volt car charger for smartphones that integrates a 3-foot long (1m) flat ribbon cable. At the end of the cable is either a micro-USB connection or an Apple Lightning connector.

I especially like that the flat cable doesn't get tangled and knotted in my backpack when transporting it and my phone from car to car. Other colors are available (black, yellow and blue), but I also like that my example's eye-searingly bright red makes it easy to spot in my bag and in the car. There is little chance that I'd lose it in a test car or leave it on my desk when heading to the garage. It also color-matched almost perfectly with my equally gaudy red LG Nexus 5. (Despite appearing to be orange in the pictures accompanying this article, the Ribbn -- and my phone -- really are red.)

Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Being an integrated plug and cable combo, I find the Ribbn is easy to carry around and feels more robust than a separate USB charger and cable. I can be more careless about chucking the rubberized Ribbn into my bag with the rest of my junk without fear of bending a plug.

The flat cable also fits through into tighter spots than a similarly robust round cable would. The Ribbn shined when the host car's charging point was under the center console armrest and needed to snake out of a closed compartment door. With 3 feet of cable, there is usually enough slack to reach wherever I need it to.

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Antuan Goodwin/CNET

The 4.8-amp charging circuitry and second USB port boast enough juice to quickly charge my smartphone and another device, meaning that I'd more often arrive at my destination with a full battery. I could even quickly charge a pair of tablets if I wanted to.

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Antuan Goodwin/CNET

On the other hand, 3 feet of flat and thick ribbon cable can be unwieldy when you only need it to span a short distance, which can make cable management tricky for some drivers. For me, the gaudy red hue served as a reminder to grab the cable at the end of every trip, but if left in the car the color could attract the attention of thieves. Drivers who prefer to leave the cable in their car between trips may prefer the darker black or blue colors.

The $39.99 MSRP for the micro-USB model is pretty pricey for a car charger and cable -- even a good one. $49.99 for the Lightning model is even harder to swallow. (UK and Australian pricing was unavailable at time of publication.) As USB car chargers go, the Tylt Ribbn is remarkably well made; it justifies its high cost of entry with a premium feel and robust construction. However, for most drivers, a USB car charger is not a premium purchase and the Ribbn is a tough sell when a similar 4.8A dual-USB charging setup (with standard round cables in you choice of length) from Anker or Aukey, for example, will only run you about $12 to $15 online.