FEATURE: 12.07.18- Looking for the perfect gadget to give as a stocking stuffer or gift for the MacBook user in your life that won’t break the bank and can actually help them organize the cable and cord clutter that USB-C style Apple power adapters have become? Why not give a Side Winder as a present for this holiday season, one that will remain useful throughout the new year and beyond?
Gone are the days when Apple power adapters for its notebook computers — such as the previous generation MagSafe style for the MacBook family or the much older PowerBook G4 and white iBook G3 & G4 models — were known for being innovative with the cable that directly connects to the corresponding port on the computer able to be wound up around the power adapter itself on the two built-in prongs when not in use. To add to the conundrum, what is a user to do if the extension cord is also in use as well, since there’s no comparable way to wind that long cord anywhere much less neatly store the entire thing away when it is connected to the power adapter?
Enter the Side Winder, a product from the Provo, Utah-based company Fuse. Labeled the “#1 Funded Kickstarter MacBook accessory Of 2017,” the Side Winder is a contraption that is a reel which when paired with the Apple power adapter for your notebook computer — either for the MacBook, MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air — cleverly and neatly stores away the USB-C cable and 6-foot extension cord with the twist of your wrist.
With the Side Winder installed on the USB-C style Apple power adapter for your MacBook, the entire package is neat and tidy getting rid of all of that cord clutter for good. In addition, it prevents the common problem MacBook users face with their Apple power adapters with the power supply cable getting frayed or worse, damaged.
The “Apple-esque,” as the company describes it, design of the device — it’s white and glossy — is just as portable as the Apple power adapter itself and fits easily into the pockets of laptop bags and backpacks for storage.
The Side Winder comes in two product configurations:
— one for the newer (current) USB-C style Apple power adapter which includes the reel, an insert for the 61W adapter, a custom right angle USB-C cable, and instructions (the reel ships ready to use with the 61W adapter and is compatible with the 87W adapter without any inserts)
— one for the older MagSafe style Apple power adapter (type 1 and 2) which includes the reel, an insert for the 45W adapter, insert for the 60W adapter, and instructions (the reel ships ready to use with the 60W adapter and is compatible with the 85W adapter without any inserts)
A separate USB-C cable is supplied because, according to the company, it is a custom right angle USB-C cable which is included to accommodate the small size of the reel. Fuse said that the original Apple USB-C cable will work with the reel but it puts a lot of pressure on the head of the cable and can damage it.
Note that neither of the two product configurations include an Apple power adapter which is sold separately (not by Fuse).
I first learned about the Side Winder from an ad I read on my Facebook news feed earlier this year and I, being the curious type, was intrigued so I inquired with the company about getting a product for review to do a story on the device. Fuse happily sent me a review unit, a MagSafe model — that oddly enough also came with a USB-C cable which I did not need — for my notebook computer, a MacBook Air 11-inch 2011 model that uses a 45W MagSafe style Apple power adapter (type 1), free of charge which got me very excited and anxious to try it out.
The Side Winder is mostly circular in design which is akin to the “prohibited” symbol / sign (a circle with a slash inside). If you want to get creative, think of it almost like Apple Park, the new headquarters of Apple, Inc. in Cupertino, California that is a ring shaped spaceship-like campus. (Talk about an “Apple-esque” design!).
The reel opens up by unhooking, or unclipping, one of the notches parallel to the other notch on the opposite end which serves as its hinge. Once opened, you simply insert your Apple power adapter, with its extension cord connected, into the square slot inside the reel making sure to align both the power supply cable and extension cord with the appropriate grooves inside the reel. Then you close the reel and simply turn the handle clockwise to wind up your cable and cord (or counterclockwise to unwind it).
As noted previously for the two product configurations available for the Side Winder, the USB-C model is ready to use with the 61W Apple power adapter while the MagSafe model is ready for use with the 60W Apple power adapter. If you have the 87W or 85W ones, respectively, you must remove the pre-installed inserts on the sides of the square slot inside the reel in order to slip in those larger Apple power adapters.
If you — like me — have a smaller 45W MagSafe style Apple power adapter (type 1 or 2), you must remove the pre-installed inserts for the 60W and install the inserts for the 45W into the sides of the square slot which are included with the MagSafe model of the Side Winder.
Being visually impaired and completely blind (since 2013), which regular readers of this column should know by now, I enlisted the assistance of my dad to help me assemble the contraption so that I could put it to use and test the waters, so to speak. Initially, I was not impressed because my dad and I (more him than I) were having a difficult time figuring the thing out and how to put it together.
Here are just some of my observations that did not impress me prior to using the product:
— Upon unboxing, it took us almost 30 minutes from reading the directions (in order to reconfigure the reel) to final assembly before I could try the Side Winder out.
— The directions for replacing and installing the 45W inserts were not as described as far as we could tell. And we had to play around with them before we finally figured it out for ourselves (which added to the prolonged time it took to install the Side Winder onto my Apple power adapter).
— It takes some maneuvering and effort to line up the reel correctly to get the Apple power adapter inserted with its power supply cable and extension cord into the corresponding grooves inside the Side Winder so that you can close it.
— As far as the assembling of the Side Winder, the reel is not a very friendly accessory that is accessible for the visually impaired (just look at the difficulty my dad had putting the thing together and he can see!).
— Opening the reel where it clips together at one of the notches (for assembly and disassembly) was quite difficult for me personally and I could not, for the life of me, ever open the Side Winder without help from my dad (I don’t know if it is because of my visual impairment or what but all I know is that I broke a nail attempting to do so and still failed to open the thing!).
With those things said, after everything was put together and I finally tried it out for what it was designed for, I think it’s a really nifty contraption and would recommend the product with those caveats. It does a great job of storing everything together in a neat and clean, all-in-one package.
I will have to say though that contrary to the company’s claims on their website that state “the Side Winder allows you to wind and store your MacBook charger in under five seconds,” it takes me on average about 35-40 seconds to wind up my power supply cable and extension cord (and that had nothing to do with my disability!). Also, I found it easier to wind it up holding the Apple power adapter “brick” instead of the handle on the reel and noticed that I had to guide the cable and cord a little bit to stay in line so that they didn’t bunch up and get jammed during the winding up process.
On the flip side, unwinding the reel and getting it ready for use with your notebook computer takes less time and only took me on average 10-15seconds to unravel it from end to end. (Your time may vary depending on how long you need to extend the power supply cable and extensioncord, which stretches out to anywhere from 12 inches to 12 feet, based on how far your MacBook is from the electrical outlet).
If I could change some things about the reel’s design, I would make the handle that allows you to wind up the cords to be a little more raised. (It is a little hard to get the thing turning). Also, maybe a second handle on the reverse side to make it even easier to hold the reel when winding. And if it was possible, instead of winding the reel, make the whole thing retractable with just a tug of the cords. Now that would be a really cool feature to have in a version 2.0 of the product!
However, I’m not one who always uses the 6-foot extension cord connected to my Apple power adapter so the Side Winder isn’t something that I would use on a regular basis. But don’t get me wrong. It’s a really wonderful and handy product that provides a solution that every user of either a MacBook, MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air has been clamoring for and should get for themselves without any hesitation, especially those with the newer USB-C style Apple power adapters that are currently supplied with MacBooks.
So, who is the genius behind this Apple power adapter solution and what was their impetus for the invention of the device?
The Side Winder is the brainchild of Logan Bailey, the 26-year old founder and CEO of Fuse. “The driving force behind the project was a legitimate need in the industry,” he said. “Everyone hates their MacBook charger. Especially college students that carry it with them on a daily basis. I saw every table in the library covered in MacBook cables and wanted to solve the problem!”
The reel was created in Bailey’s university house basement while he was in college studying business at Brigham Young University.
“I set up a shop in my basement storage room with tools, 3-D Printers, and a mini fridge (of course). I had the idea while sitting in the University library and immediately began prototyping and designing a solution that I could mass produce. I developed over 50 prototypes on my $250 3-D printer until I nailed down the design, and could send it off to my manufacturers. It was a long and tedious process, but I learned a lot about product design and MacBook chargers.”
Bailey added, “I had the idea in March of 2017. I prototyped for 5 months, launched the Kickstarter in September, pulled the trigger on manufacturing in October, and released the product on March 12th, 2018. So, almost exactly one year from idea to product in the market.”
Released just ten months ago,Fuse has sold approximately 35,000 units of the Side Winder and the reviews have generally been positive.
“The reviews are amazing!” said Bailey. “Everyone loves their Side Winder! We have yet to have a single defective reel since shipping out.”
Bailey noted that they had a small issue with some of the USB-C Cables from the first batch but the company has since redesigned the internals of the cable and replaced those units.
The only burning questions left to ask are how much does the Side Winder cost and where can it be purchased?
The USB-C model currently retails for $32.99 and the MagSafe model currently retails for $27.99. Both models are available for purchase and are in stock now either directly on the Fuse company website or on Amazon Through this link. (Note that prices on Amazon may vary from those on the company website).
People who have purchased the Side Winder on Amazon rate the product an average of 4.1 out of 5 stars based on 164 customer reviews as of publication time.
The Side Winder will only fit the MacBook family of Apple power adapters. Unfortunately, users of older Apple notebook computers such as the PowerBook G4 and the white iBook G3 & G4 need to look elsewhere as the reel is not compatible with those style Apple power adapters even though they are similar in design.
An important note is that the Side Winder will not function if your Apple power adapter does not have the 6-foot extension cord connected as the entire package works in tandem with the reel.
In a revelation, the company shared exclusively to MacPrices the news that they are creating a new second product — a project known only to the previous Kickstarter backers of the Side Winder — which Bailey described as a “super innovative product” and is primarily geared toward MacBook users that don’t use the 6-foot extension cord. It is also made and designed specifically for use on the USB-C style Apple power adapter as it adds the two prongs Apple removed but it will fit any square power adapter on the market.
The product, which already has a name and will be revealed to the public soon, will launch through Kickstarter sometime at the end of January 2019 and is expected to be released sometime later in the Spring (schedule subject to change without notice).
Fuse is offering a special 20% discount especially for readers of MacPrices now through the end of the year on the purchase of a Side Winder. You can either click on this special link to automatically apply the savings or enter the coupon code “MACPRICE20” (without the quotation marks, of course) at checkout on their website. The offer ends on December 31, 2018.
There is no limit on the number of units you can purchase and the discount is valid on your entire order. With those savings, you can afford to buy one as a gift for everyone on your holiday shopping list including yourself! (A very special thanks to Logan Bailey and Fuse for extending this limited time offer to our readers for the holiday season.).
Do you already own a Fuse Side Winder Reel? How do you like it? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Drop me a line at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or simply log in to your Facebook account and leave a comment below.