Portable chargers provide a convenient way to power up your portable devices. And in the case of portable batteries, they can even extend the use of your gadgets on the road.
Things to consider when picking a portable charger or battery are compatibility, capacity, convenience and speed.
Here's a list of portable batteries and chargers that I've personally tried out and I think are worth a look.
The Just Mobile Gum packs plenty of portable power within its smooth silver exterior. The battery can recharge an iPhone or iPod Touch up to four times. I also tried the Just Mobile Gum Plus on an iPad and it recharged the device halfway before it ran out of juice. That translates to about 5 more hours of iPad use.
Although, it's primarily labeled as an iPhone/iPod charger, the device actually worked with every device I tried that can charge via USB. The indicator lights for how much power it has left is also a plus. Charging devices can be a bit slow when using the Gum Plus as a wall charger while the battery is drained. But charging is pretty snappy when the device has juice. A solid performer overall.
Technocel's PowerPak is a USB wall charger that also doubles as a portable battery.
The PowerPak is especially geared toward cell phones. Included with the device are connectors for such brands as Motorola, Samsung, LG and Nokia. Talk time via a full charge is about three hours.
The PowerPak also works with other portables that charge via USB. It charges about two-and-a-half bars out of six bars on an Archos 5, for example. But it doesn't work with the Apple iPad.
The only quibble I really have with the device is that the battery drains faster than I'd like. The PowerPak I tried lost half its charge in about a week or so. This makes it ideal for daily use but you'll want to keep it plugged in if you won't use it right away.
This charger comes in two flavors: a BlackBerry/Palm Pre version and an iPhone/iPod version.
The device can fully charge an iPhone in about an hour and a half. Charging the device itself takes about five hours.
The Richard Solo 1800s aren't quite as universal as some other chargers — they basically just work on the devices they're designed for. But they still demonstrate some extra multi-tasking abilities, including a pen light and laser pointer. And since the device has a charging capacity about 1.5 times of, say, an iPhone, that leaves business travelers extra juice to use the laser pointer feature for presentations.
Solar chargers can be all potential but severely lacking in actual performance. But the Pico Freeloader charger does a good job of balancing solar charge times with charging capacity.
Fully charging the Freeloader takes about nine hours under direct sunlight and three or so hours via USB. The Freeloader also charges portable devices fast and carries enough of a charge to adequately power a wide array of portable gadgets. Speaking of gadget selection, it also comes with a set of connectors and adapters for various portable brands.
If you're looking for just a basic USB wall charger that isn't a portable battery, then Arctic Cooling's Arctic C2 is certainly worth a look.
The device has four USB slots, perfect for travelers who bring along a cell phone, MP3 player, portable media player and other device for their trips.
International travelers will especially like the fact that it comes with a variety of interchangeable plugs that work with wall sockets from areas such as South America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Australia, Japan and China.
The device also works with inputs ranging from 100V to 240V and comes with short-circuit protection.
Price: $26.55 (excludes VAT)