Since Apple moved from the former Firewire charging system to USB, lots of old accessories were rendered partially useless due to the change. For example, several high-end audio systems such as the Bose SoundDock and Tivoli iSongBook systems both used the old charging system as well as many older in-car iPod systems such as the DICE electronics iPod interfaces to OEM stereos and aftermarket systems. Because of this sudden change by Apple, newer devices did not support both charging technologies like the first generation iPhone and older iPods did. This created the new market of iPod and iPhone USB charge converters. Two very popular brands of adapters come from Griffin and CableJive.
You may think that the adapter is just a simple connector that changes which wires pair to each other, but in reality it’s a little more complicated than that. Because Firewire charging uses +12v DC and USB uses +5v DC, a very tiny circuit that both relays the leads from both ends as well as connects the Firewire +12v to the USB +5v while converting the voltage is necessary. Inside these devices is a simple circuit design that utilizes a voltage regulator. It would be very difficult to build one yourself, especially in the small form factor both of these devices give you.
Both devices act the same way. Instead of getting the “No charging” warning you would normally and possibly running out of power in a short time, you instead get the old and very welcome charging icon. Such a tiny adapter allows you to charge once again!! Instead of throwing away your expensive stereos or adapters, you can still use them.
The Griffin unit looks a little cleaner and slightly thicker and longer but a little less wide. But it’s more expensive than the CableJive unit. Otherwise, they act identically.
One major setback I had with the CableJive unit was that it stopped working. After about 1 week of use, it failed to even allow my iPhone to play music through the utilized cable. Immediately, CableJive righted the issue by sending a replacement. Oddly, the replacement broke within a few days, having the female connector pull straight out of the unit. This was very odd and CableJive again offered to replace the unit for no cost.
So, depending on whether you want to risk a potential failure, go with either unit. They’re basically the same, but longevity may be the only issue. I had no issues with the Griffin unit, however I must say that the CableJive support team was perfect in execution for customer satisfaction. Thumbs up to both companies for standing by their products.
These adapters are absolutely necessary if you have or are planning on getting a new iPod or iPhone and have an old Firewire only system. I highly recommend them.
Griffin Technologies Charge Converter – 9.5/10
CableJive Charge Converter – 8.5/10
[Griffin Charge Converter] – $29.99 MSRP / $19.88 Walmart
[CableJive Charge Converter] – $27.95 MSRP