Vinpok Bolt-S Cable: MagSafe capability for the MacBook Pro with USB-C (review and giveaway)

Vinpok Bolt-S Magnetic Charging Cable. Photo ©2017, Steven Sande

Vinpok Bolt-S Magnetic Charging Cable. Photo ©2017, Steven Sande

So, you’ve moved up to a new MacBook Pro but you miss the safety provided by Apple’s clever MagSafe power connector. Vinpok has a magnetic charging cable called the Bolt-S (US$50, available for pre-order for $24) coming soon that may be what you need to resurrect the functionality of the MagSafe — keeping your MacBook Pro (or MacBook) from dropping to the ground when someone trips over the power cable. 

Design

Let’s get one thing out front right away — the Bolt-S Cable cannot be used as a data cable as it’s not designed for that functionality. It’s a magnetically detachable power cable, and that’s it. On one end is a USB-C connector that plugs into Apple’s provided AC adapter. On the other, you’ll find the special feature of the Bolt-S...

The end of the Bolt-S Cable that stays in your MacBook Pro. Photo ©2017, Steven Sande

The end of the Bolt-S Cable that stays in your MacBook Pro. Photo ©2017, Steven Sande

That feature is a detachable USB-C end that is inserted into one of the USB-C ports on your MacBook Pro. The cable has strong magnets on the end that snap right into the end that’s inserted into the USB-C port. Put the cable end next to the detachable end, and the two snap together. 

If anyone trips over the cable or yanks on it, the cable snaps clear of the end in the MacBook Pro, just like the Apple MagSafe connector. In case you're wondering how far out the connector that stays in the MacBook Pro sticks out, it's just a scant 2.2mm. One other nice little feature: the Bolt-S comes in a small hockey puck-sized zippered carry case that's perfect for carrying the cable.

The carry case for the Bolt-S cable. Photo ©2017, Steven Sande

The carry case for the Bolt-S cable. Photo ©2017, Steven Sande

The Bolt-S is designed to work at the full 87W power rating of the 15-inch MacBook Pro and I can attest that it works just fine with the 60W rated 13-inch model. Of course, the 12-inch MacBook also uses USB-C and the cable works with it as well... but it also takes up your only USB-C port without adding data passthrough. 

The cable itself is nothing special; it has a smooth plastic cover on it while top-tier cables use a braided sheath. At 2m length (6.6 feet), the Bolt-S is the same length as the standard Apple charging cable. 

Function

The end that’s plugged into the MacBook Pro is designed to stay in there, but it does not take much force to install. I found that it was quite simple to remove the end with my fingers when needed; some other reviewers have made nonsensical remarks about needing needle-nose pliers to remove it.

I tested the Bolt-S by plugging the cable into my 2017 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, then pulling on the cable to see if the laptop moved before the connector detached. This was all done just a few inches above a padded surface… just in case.

What I found is that in "real-life situations", the Bolt-S cable disconnected before the MacBook Pro moved even a quarter-inch or so. What do I mean by "real-life situations"? I mean that most of the time when someone trips over a cable, they're going to be dragging it laterally so that the cable is at an oblique angle. In those situations the Bolt-S disconnects before your MacBook Pro has a chance to move. The worst case is when one pulls the cable exactly perpendicular to the side of the MacBook Pro -- the magnet is quite strong, and in that special case the MacBook Pro still moved only a fraction of an inch before the cable released.

Conclusion

The Vinpok Bolt-S cable is currently in an Indigogo campaign that has reached 320% of its intended goal in just a few days. While many people may be in situations where the possibility of having someone trip over a power cable is remote, the Bolt-S cable brings back a much-needed capability for students and road warriors. My only concern is the lack of data passthrough capability, and that's really not an issue with the four USB-C / Thunderbolt 3 ports on the MacBook Pro.

Apple World Today Rating (out of 5 stars): ★★★★★


Giveaway Closed: Our winner was Carrie Adkins

Just in time for heading back to school with your MacBook or MacBook Pro, we're giving away a Vinpok Bolt-S. Just fill out the form below to enter. You will not be added to any mailing lists.