• My Nomad CHARGEKEY and CHARGECARD reviews

    If youíre out or travelling around and have ever needed a charging cable, youíll know what a pain it is to bring one along. Charging cables are meant for you to connect your phone to your wall charger, so when you have to pack them, they can make a mess because theyíre too long.

    Fortunately, Nomad sent me their CHARGEKEY and CHARGECARD chargers which are both available with a Lightning connector (for iOS) or a MicroUSB (for everything else). Theyíre charging cables which are shaped like a house key or a credit card so theyíre easier to carry around.

    First impressions are good. Check out the smart packaging. Itís not wasteful and itís easy to open.

    Nomad CHARGEKEY:

    The ChargeKey is a microUSB or lightning cable thatís approximately the same size as a key.

    Thereís a loop for you to attach it to your keychain. The middle is flexible which should take a lot of strain off your computerís USB port and your phoneís charging connector.

    The connectors are very stiff so it feels pretty durable. Itís solid where it needs to be solid and flexible where it needs to be flexible. The only part that makes me worry is the loop that attaches to your keychain. While itís not extremely thin, sometimes things get tangled up in my pocket. When that happens, I usually just tug until they get untangled. I wonder if the loop will be able to handle the stresses that pulling on it will produce.

    Since the ChargeKeys are meant for your pocket, I noticed Nomad made 2 changes that make them more pocket friendly. First off, the edges on the USB connector are rounded slightly so they wonít tear up your pockets.

    Ditto for hooks on the MicroUSB connector that are missing from the MicroUSB version.

    If you have an iPhone and use a thick case with a narrow charger connector, you might have troubles with the ChargeKey. While I donít have an extremely thick case lying around, I do have this TPU one - itís a tight fit around the Lightning connector. You could say the same thing about the MicroUSB charger.

    While the Chargekey is pretty short, itís flexible so if youíre desperate you can plug it to your wall charger and let your phone dangle off of it. Then again, itís best if you use it with your laptop on a table to charge your phone.

    Since itís flexible, you can also use with with a portable battery charger and then toss both in your pocket.

    The MicroUSB port is oriented so that phones which have a port which is oriented like an ďAĒ (most phones) will be face down (unless you twist the key around). Phones which have a port which is oriented like a ďVĒ (Nexus 5) will be face up.

    While theyíre marketed primarily as a charging solution, you can also use them to connect to your computer. I backed up my 32GB iPhone 5s with the lighting ChargeKey just fine.

    The only complaint I have about the ChargeKey is the price: On Amazon, the Lightning version is $29 USD or $35 Canadian which is kind of steep but then again, at $19/21 Lightning cables in general arenít cheap. So in that sense, the ChargeKey is an extra $10 USD or $14 CAN more than a regular Lightning cable from Apple.

    The MicroUSB version is a harder sell. While it costs the same as the Lightning version, you can pick up a brand name MicroUSB like a Samsung one for around $5 on Amazon.com. Now I realize a regular cable is a lot less convenient than a ChargeKey but is it really worth paying an extra $24?

    3.5 Howies out of 5.

    very portable

    loop should be thicker
    loop is right next to charger connector


    If you donít want to carry around a spare charger on your keychain you can opt for the ChargeCard which should fit in most wallets.

    It has a smaller footprint than a credit card and is about as thick as 4 credit cards stacked together.

    The Lightning or MicroUSB connector is located on the corner while the USB connector pops out of the middle.

    The USB connector snaps into place when you close it. Sometimes popping it out it requires more pressure than Iíd like to.

    The flexible part on the USB connector is pretty short. When I use it I feel like I have to flex it more than Iím comfortable doing. I noticed a stress crack where the USB connector part meets with the rest of the card.

    At $29, the ChargeCard occupies the same price point as the ChargeKey so my comments on price apply here.

    2.5 Howies out of 5.

    very portable

    may develop stress cracks where the USB connector meets the rest of the card like mine did

    Which one?

    Since they both cost the same, itís a difficult choice between them. Iím happier with the ChargeKeyís design, but Iím not sure Iíd like to carry it around on my keychain. The ChargeCard is more convenient since I can stick it in my wallet but then again, my wallet is already bursting. Since itís as thick as 4 credit cards I probably wouldnít use it there.

    If I had to choose one, Iíd probably just get the ChargeKey because itís slightly more versatile. Iíd just toss it in my bag or carry it around in my pocket.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: My Nomad CHARGEKEY and CHARGECARD reviews started by howard View original post
    Comments 3 Comments
    1. s002cjs's Avatar
      s002cjs -
      I have to say I've never understood the lack of products in this area, and then most often, like in this case, they're WAY overpriced for what they are. I've gone a lot of routes trying to find keychain or pocket-sized micro USB charging cables, including going through Chinese and Hong Kong electronic stores. What I've ended up with (if you can manage to find them) are EyeCandis (looks like they might have been bought out or changed their name to SoundBot) micro USB charging/data cable. About 3 or 4" long, and fits easily on a keychain, this thing has been handy when suddenly needing to charge something in the car, or when I'm just sitting around with friends at a coffee shop and we suddenly NEED to connect something.

      Best part is, they're only $5.
    1. BiancaAtOrchard's Avatar
      BiancaAtOrchard -
      To be clear, I don't have the experience of owning one of these myself, but my co-worker has the ChargeKey and is pretty evangelical about it. Plus, since I tend to be delinquent when it comes to keeping my phone charged, I usually have to borrow his to make sure my battery doesn't run out.

      The thing does seem pretty durable, really compact and portable, and does what it says it does: it plugs into your USB and charges your battery. I'm left wondering if it actually solves a problem that a regular charger can't. I used to think that I wasn't "mobile" enough for it to make sense for me, but then I realized that anyone who is super mobile (NOMAD has photos of bike messengers and surfers all over their press kit) probably wouldn't have their computer around to use its USB port. And once you introduce accessories for wall outlets, the whole compact/portable advantage kind of goes out the window.

      TL;DR - I know someone who loves the ChargeKey but I probably wouldn't buy one.
    1. PaisanNYC's Avatar
      PaisanNYC -
      I have the ChargeKey. It's not something I use all the time, but it definitely is convinient when needed. And the idea in the article about using the ChargeKey with a phone and portable battery is genius.