Review of the Mu folding USB UK mains adapter
If you’re the type who has to carry a phone charger everywhere you go, then you need something that’s small and compact. That’s easier said than done with the sturdy old three pronged UK mains plug. That’s where the Mu USB adapter comes in, its folding and pivoting design makes it easy to slip in a pocket while you’re on your travels.
The design of the Mu adapter has been on the go for a while. It was originally devised by designer Min-Kyu Choi, where it was originally envisioned as a replacement to for plugs on the end of a mains lead. In this original incarnation, a bar connecting the live and earth pins rotated so that all three pins were in line – this is what they call PVT Technology. Behind the pins, there were two panels which folded out as a socket cover that also exposed a little handle so that the plug could be easily pulled out of a socket. The design was taken further with a multi-plug adapter which would connect to multiple plugs in their folded configuration.
Neither of those visions made it to market. However, what has made it to market is the USB mains adapter version of the PVT’ing plug (pardon the pun). The adapter supplies 1 Amps at 5.0 volts (the standard voltage for USB), which puts it in line with most mains adapters that are supplied with smartphones. However, that also means it’s insufficient to charge a tablet, but Made in the Mind (the company behind PVT plugs) say that a tablet version of the adapter is the next product to be released. Bear in mind that it was “coming soon” in 2012, though).
The USB version of the PVT plug has the socket cover concealing the pins of the plug. So you must fold those back first, then rotate the pins in to position. It’s as simple as that. There’s a single USB socket on the back where a USB cable will be connected. I hope that when Made in the Mind come up with a tablet version that they can consider putting two USB sockets, say one at 2.1 Amps and a second at 1.0 Amps to make the charger even more versatile.
The adapter itself is a master piece of design, which I say as objectively as possible. Even the packaging is actually more Apple-like than Apple in its elegance and simplicity. I’m verging on non-objective terms, however, these are the first words that spring to my mind as descriptions.
When closed, the adapter measures 5.5cm x 5.5cm x 0.9cm. Compare this to the next most compact phone charger, the Nokia AC-16X which an equilateral triangle with rounded corners that would occupy a square of 5cm x 5cm. However, its casing is 1.5cm thick without accounting for the pins, which are non-collapsible. Bring the pins in and we’re looking at 5.0cm x 5.0cm x 3.6cm. Compare that to the svelte 0.9cm thickness of the Mu adapter and the advantage is obvious.
The adapter costs £25, which is on the expensive side for a mains adapter. So you will probably want to stop and think before you purchase. If you already carry around a portable charger, such as a Proporta Turbo charger maybe you don’t need to be leeching power from elsewhere. However, if you’re regularly moving between locations where a power socket is available, this solution is far more compact. What’s more, the novelty of having a mains adapter that can fit in your pocket is brilliant. You might also consider this as a vanity product. I used this while travelling on the UK rail network and got a few nudges and looks as I unfolded (or should I say transformed) this device and plugged it into the socket beside my seat.