Maria Montero

The Anker PowerPort Atom is my new travel companion …

I had to fight a couple of co-workers over this. It’s a strange thing to fight over, I realize, but we are strange people with a strange job. And most importantly, I won. I am connected to the PowerPort Atom as I write this. It keeps my 13-inch MacBook Pro alive via the airplane power socket snugly behind my legs.

I travel a lot, and I try to travel light. Determining what goes in and what is out of my carry-on feels a bit like a delivery rocket for the International Space Station at times. But I feel pretty safe saying that this little plug just marked a permanent spot. Well, until the PowerPort Quark arrives, I guess.

One of the beauties of Apple’s move to Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C is the modularity of it all. I’m sure Apple will tell you to limit yourself to official and officially licensed products, but the ability to mix and match these things has given us some solid options, and Anker is there to make the profit. The products the company makes are rarely flashy or attractive, but they are often really useful in a way that few accessory manufacturers can claim.

As someone who has owned many Apple chargers over the years, it’s pretty amazing what Anker has done here. I recently switched to Google’s PixelBook charger for travel, but that has nothing to do with it. Heck, the Atom is smaller than some phone chargers I’ve used over the years.

It’s small and white with a single USB-C port. It’s not quite as slim as, say, a standard iPhone charger, so it can be a bit snug with other larger chargers (RavPower’s dual-USB charger, for example), but it does free up a lot of space. And in scenarios like From the plane I’m writing this on, you’re much less likely to accidentally kick it with your leg, leaving you blindly clumsy to plug it back in.

It is not a perfect thing, of course. It can get quite hot to the touch when loading something large. And don’t even think about carrying, say, your 15-inch Pro. With certain outlets in certain scenarios, the loading process could be downright slow. I don’t remember seeing “Estimated Charging Time: 10 Hours” before.

For the most part, I’d recommend the Atom for those cases where you want to hold a charge, rather than quickly charging the battery. I hope to continue to bring the full size charger with me when I return to the hotel and need to recharge it overnight.

In an ideal world, Anker would have somehow compressed an additional USB-C port or a full-size USB port to charge two devices at once, but that kind of request is probably flying too close to the sun here. And heck, at $ 30, one is still a great deal.