Review: Ten One Design's Stella Helps You Plug in Your MacBook in the Dark

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Apr 12, 2001
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Ten One Design is known for some useful Mac and iOS products, like the Blockhead that changes the orientation of your MacBook power adapter and the Mountie+ that transforms the iPad into a second screen for a Mac, but it's newest product, the Stella MacBook Power Cord, is perhaps the company's most interesting accessory to date.

Stella features a built-in LED that activates whenever it senses a faint electrical field next to an electrical receptacle like a power outlet, resulting in a bright light that comes on whenever you go to plug it in.


The idea behind the Stella is to provide a bit of light when attempting to plug your cord in while it's dark, which, admittedly, is not a situation that most people are likely to encounter on a regular basis.

Stella snaps onto a MacBook's power adapter where the extension cable would normally go, essentially replacing the standard Apple extension cable (or short prong portion). The part of the Stella that connects to the power adapter is white and it looks rather similar to the regular extension cable, so there are no surprises there.


The cord of the Stella is made from a nice, flexible braided material that looks great and is a less unwieldy than the Apple branded extension cable. The cable itself is 1.8m long, like the Apple extension cable.

I don't use an extension cable with my MacBook Pro power adapter because the USB-C cable is generally long enough for most places where I need to plug in, so I do wish that there was an option for a set of light up prongs sans extra cable.


Ten One Design accounted for extra cord, though, with a handy bi-directional slide out clip that can hold the additional wound up cable in place. There's so much cable that it doesn't work well on the 29W/30W MacBook adapter, but winds up nicely on the larger 87W MacBook Pro adapter. Because the cord is flexible, it stays wound up neatly.

The Stella website says the cord was designed with the 85/87W chargers in mind, wrapping around them eight times. It also works with the 61W chargers, but you'll need to wrap it around an additional time or two.


The plug part of the Stella is grooved and shaped in a way that's simple to grip, and it comes in either blue or aqua. The plug is smaller than the plug of the Apple extension cable, and it is two pronged instead of three pronged. It also takes up less space than a MacBook power adapter without an extension cable, so it's a good way to save outlet real estate if you have a lot of things plugged in.

The Stella's LED is located right above the two prongs, and in my testing, it reliably lit up every time it was next to a power outlet, providing sufficient light to find the outlet's holes even in the darkest room.


It starts lighting up when it's about a foot away from the outlet, which seems to be an ideal distance. Ten One Designs says this distance can vary, though, depending on the strength of the outlet and based on factors like the material covering the outlet.

Stella also lights up near other devices that are plugged in, so you'll see it light up if it's located near your MacBook, your toaster, your TV, or anything else. It needs to be in close proximity, though, so I never found the LED to be irritating.


I didn't run into any issues with Stella failing to light up, but Ten One Design says that if you hold it sideways against a receptacle it will always light up, which can be useful in situations where an outlet has low signal.


Once plugged in, the light on the Stella goes out within a few seconds, so it's not going to keep shining in a dark room.


Stella is compatible with all MacBook chargers, 10W and 12W iPad chargers, and PC laptop chargers, though there are different editions for PCs and Macs.

Bottom Line

Ten One Design's Stella is neat, but it's something of a novelty. At $34.95, it's rather expensive when you can just use the flashlight on your phone or a light switch.

Stella is undeniably useful when you might want to plug in your MacBook cable with the lights out, but I can't imagine that such a situation is a regular occurrence for most people.

Apple's USB-C MacBooks don't ship with an extension cable anymore, with Apple instead selling them for $19. Stella is priced at $34.95, which means it's a $15.95 premium over what you can get from Apple.

Whether that's worth it for the braided cable and the built-in light will depend on your needs. If you work in the dark a lot or travel often, the Stella is potentially worth the upgrade, but if you're not moving your power adapter on a regular basis, it's probably not worth the extra cost.

Ten One Design has said that it plans to license Stella technology to other manufacturers, so it's possible we may see more useful applications in the future with the light up functionality perhaps added to power adapters of other types, such as those meant for iPhones or iPads.

How to Buy

The Stella MacBook Power Cord can be purchased from the Ten One Design website for $34.95.

Note: Ten One Design provided MacRumors with a Stella MacBook Power Cord for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was received.

Article Link: Review: Ten One Design's Stella Helps You Plug in Your MacBook in the Dark
 

coolfactor

macrumors 601
Jul 29, 2002
4,643
4,681
Vancouver, BC
Thank the heavens for USB Type C fixing what Apple refused to... the other side of the power brick.

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$35 and it doesn't even include a grounding pin?

I realize it's not STRICTLY necessary but come on...
Good point! I didn't even realize that. Bizarre that they'd do that, but it likely has polarity pins, so can only fit on one way, which serves the same purpose.

EDIT: The photo does not show a polarity pin. #shocked#
 

alphaod

macrumors Core
Feb 9, 2008
22,173
1,216
NYC
The braided cable is a nice idea, but $35 is a bit of a stretch seeing the Apple cable is $20.
 

Alphadork

macrumors newbie
Jul 21, 2015
6
2
I have one of these and it's fantastic. You folks who are dissing it I am guessing don't fly a lot with your lap tops. This makes the brick more compact when you wind it up which makes it easier to stuff it into your brief case; and the LED on the plug makes finding the electrical outlet down there between the airplane seats much easier. I also have an outlet under a dresser at home that I often use, and the LED makes it much easier to see what's going on down there. For travel, it's great. But if you mostly work at a desk, I can see this having limited utility, though.
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A solution in search of a problem.
As I point out in my comments below - for travel and flying, I am finding it to be extremely useful. I'm glad I bought it.
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This is what the flashlight button on the lock screen of my iPhone XS is for.
Try simultaneously holding a phone/flashlight and a power cord in the 2 inch space between your airplane seat and the knee of the person sitting next to you . . .
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A solution to a problem that doesn't exist springs to mind!
In addition to being great for flying in particular and travel in general, it's also nice for compact spaces
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Thank the heavens for USB Type C fixing what Apple refused to... the other side of the power brick.

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Good point! I didn't even realize that. Bizarre that they'd do that, but it likely has polarity pins, so can only fit on one way, which serves the same purpose.

EDIT: The photo does not show a polarity pin. #shocked#
Not needed. Apple branded and Native Union branded 2-prong adapters don't have polarity plugs either. According to the interwebs: "AC adapters can use non-polarized plugs safely because they are completely enclosed in plastic casings and carry virtually no risk of electrical shock regardless of the plug’s orientation."
 
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OldSchoolMacGuy

Suspended
Jul 10, 2008
4,197
9,050
Not needed. Apple branded and Native Union branded 2-prong adapters don't have polarity plugs either. According to the interwebs: "AC adapters can use non-polarized plugs safely because they are completely enclosed in plastic casings and carry virtually no risk of electrical shock regardless of the plug’s orientation."
Wat? That's not the purpose of a 3-prong plug. If that was the case there would be zero use for them as UL requires electronics to be enclosed.

There most certainly is a good reason for the 3-prong plug and a reason Apple includes such.

You're arguing HARD CORE for this thing. Almost as if you work for them.
 
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nutmac

macrumors 601
Mar 30, 2004
4,566
2,768
  1. Subjective, but that is one ugly adapter.
  2. Not grounded.
  3. I have never ever needed a flash light when plugging in the adapter. If I needed one, iPhone works fine as a flash light.
  4. I assume the LED light uses a battery of some sort. There's no information on how it is charged or not.
 
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