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Digital Holiday Trends 2007:
Portable Power -- Universal Chargers (11/2007)
by Douglas Dixon
Power articles in the Manifest Tech Blog
It's holiday shopping season again, and time to explore the trends and new possibilities in portable electronics and associated accessories -- media players, mobile phones, and portable navigation systems. And this is also the season of high definition -- digital cameras, widescreen TVs, and high-definition camcorders.
So let's look at the trends in these areas, and some sample products that illustrate them. Just be warned that prices continue to change drastically, especially in the holiday season, so the numbers listed here are a snapshot as of early winter.
For "How-to" guides and tips on connecting digital devices, also see the Digital Tips site from the Consumer Electronics Association, covering digital televisions (HDTV), home audio, MP3 players, plus digital cameras and camcorders and accessories (www.DigitalTips.org).
Portable Power - Universal Chargers
All our portable devices require power to recharge and keep running. Instead of carrying more and more individual power adapters for each product, you can now find some more general solutions.
Whether for cell phones, digital cameras, or laptops, you can now find a variety of universal chargers with swappable device-specific adaptors that allow you to charge multiple devices from a single unit.
Even better, many devices now use a standard USB interface for both data connectivity (syncing) and power, reducing the need to carry a collection of different cords and connectors.
To charge small devices like cell phones, just connect AA batteries to the right adapter tips to recharge your particular model. The Energizer Energi To Go Instant Cell Phone Charger takes two AA batteries ($19 with batteries, www.energizer.com),.
Find the Energizer Energi-To-Go Instant Cell Phone Charger on Amazon.com
The Turbo Charge portable chargers are available with single and two-battery units ($19, $29, www.turbocellcharge.com) -- each in models with different collections of tips.
Find the Turbo Charge TC2 Cell Phone Charger on Amazon.com
Even better, USB cabling and connectors can serve as a common basis for sharing your collection of devices.
For iPods and other media players that recharge though USB, the Belkin Dual USB Power Adapter plugs in to the wall and charges up to two USB devices at a time, without requiring they be plugged in to your computer ($29, www.belkin.com).
Find the Belkin Dual USB Power Adapter on Amazon.com
The MDI kwikSynCh line extends this idea with wall and car chargers, a dual-USB wall adapter, dual-charger cables (connect one device to your computer while charging a second at the same time), and USB adapters to charge a variety of phones, players, and other devices (www.syncharger.com).
And for plane travel, the Inflight Power adapter plugs into the audio jack on and airplane seat, and converts the feed to USB power ($34, www.inflightpower.com).
Find the Inflight Power Charger on Amazon.com
- The Energizer DUO USB Charger charges two AA or AAA batteries from a USB connection, or with the included USB wall charger ($13).
Find the Energizer DUO USB Charger on Amazon.com
- For charging mobile phones to media players to digital cameras and portable games, the Instant Chargengo Portable Electronic Charger is a portable battery unit with some 28 product-specific adapters to charge a variety of devices ($39, www.instantchargengo.com). You charge the battery with the included A/C wall charger, or you can charge devices directly from wall power.
For even more access to portable power, the Black and Decker Power to Go cordless power supply product line includes several sizes of batteries that provide both AC and USB output for charging and running devices in the field (www.blackanddecker.com).
- The Compact unit with a 700mAh battery is priced around $40,
provides around 1 hour of runtime (as measured for mobile phones). It measures 2
1/4 x 4 1/2 x 1 inch, and weighs 0.6 pounds.
And for camping, or longer trips away from wall outlets, the Solio Hybrid / Solar Chargers from Better Energy Systems can power you up from the sun (www.solio.com). You don't need to leave your phone plugged in top the solar panel all day to charge -- The products have a built-in battery so you can charge them up from the sun, and then boost your portable devices in the evening. The products include a variety of interchangeable tips for devices including mobile phones, PDAs, music players, and digital cameras -- with standard USB and mini-USB tips that support many devices directly.
The Solio Classic swings open to expose three cells, which can be mounted on a window with the included suction cup. A fully charged unit is rated to recharge a typical mobile phone up to two times, or provide up to 15 hours of MP3 music (one hour of sun equals 15 minutes of talk time or 40 minutes of MP3 music) The battery is 1600 mAh, the unit weights 5.6 ounces, and is priced at $99.
Find the Solio Solar Charger on Amazon.com
The Solio Hybrid 1000 is a rugged single cell with integrated clip handle to hang on your bag or belt. The battery is 1000 mAh, and is priced at $99.