Movie lovers best friend – Gadling reviews the Kensington travel battery pack for the iPhone and iPod Touch

Regular readers will know that I’m a huge fan of portable chargers that can keep my gadgets running way past their normal battery life. In this review, I’ll show you a neat little iPhone/iPod Touch charger that doubles as a viewing base.

The “Kensington Travel Battery Pack and Charger for iPhone and iPod touch” features a Lithium-Ion battery pack, flip stand and integrated USB connector for recharging the pack itself. Inside the pack is an 1100mAh battery – enough to double the battery capacity of most iPhone and iPod models.

The built in USB plug connects to any USB charger or USB port on your computer. A full recharge takes just over two hours and 5 LEDs’s show the charging status.

To use the pack, you simply flip open the lid, and plug it into the dock connector of your device. The top of the lid is at the perfect angle for viewing a movie, which is just as well, because you can’t change its angle. The stand has a rubber non-slip pad, which helps keep your iPod and its battery pack in place.

There really isn’t much more to add about this product – it works exactly as described, is nice and compact (a mere 2.2 ounces) and can double the run-time of your device.

At $69.99, it does not come cheap – and other products (including some from Kensington) often provide a larger battery capacity. That said – this is the first dual-purpose charger/stand I have ever reviewed, and the added bonus does help justify the price.

The good news is that most Kensington retailers have managed to shave almost $30 off the price – and stores like Amazon and are selling it for just $40.

PROS: Extremely compact, great for viewing movies
CONS: Limited 1100mAh battery capacity, MSRP is fairly high compared to other products.

You’ll find the Kensington Travel Battery Pack and Charger for iPhone and iPod touch on their site – and at most Kensington retailers.

The Gadling power anything anywhere kit

It is no secret – I love my gadgets, and I love traveling with them. But even the most advanced gadget becomes useless when it runs out of power.

In the past, I’d occasionally arrive at my destination with a dead mobile phone or an iPod that only made it halfway through the flight.

It’s a pretty frustrating experience, so for the past years, I’ve been putting together the perfect kit for powering any of my gadgets on the road.
When it comes to powering gadgets, there are several things I am looking for:

  • Powering and charging my laptop and gadgets on the plane
  • Powering and charging my laptop and gadgets when I am abroad
  • Emergency power for my gadgets and laptop

Here is the kit I put together, with some of the reasoning behind each device:

Callpod Chargepod

The Callpod Chargepod passed through Gadling last year, and it has quickly become of the most important gadgets I carry with me. The device charges 6 things at the same time, which means I can charge 2 phones, my Bluetooth headset, a backup battery pack, a game console and an MP3 player off a single outlet.

The Chargepod itself can be powered off AC or DC (car) sources, and the company has power tips for almost every portable device on the market.

Price: $79.95 for a Chargepod bundle (AC and DC chargers and a selection of power tips)

APC External laptop battery pack

The APC universal notebook battery pack comes with a large selection of power plugs, for most brands of laptop computers. To charge the pack itself, you simply use your existing laptop charger. I’ve always preferred the APC battery packs over the “official” spare battery from laptop makers because I tend to change my laptop quite regularly, and by having a single battery that covers multiple brands, I don’t have to waste an investment in batteries every couple of months. The long cord on the battery means I can leave it in my bag and still have it hooked up to my laptop.

There is one annoying issue with the APC battery pack – APC stopped making them, and the only ones out there are the remaining inventory at local retailers. A good alternative would be a power pack from Tekkeon, who actually produce an external battery pack with more power than any of the APC units.

Price: From $70 (discontinued product)

Proporta emergency battery pack

The Proporta emergency battery pack is a compact Lithium-Polymer power source that can be charged using your computer, an AC adapter or DC (car) charger. The battery pack houses a 2500mAh battery, which provides enough juice to fully recharge most gadgets at least two or three times.

The battery pack has a standard USB out plug for charging your device and a handy button for checking the remaining power.

Included with the charger is an assortment of power tips for most mobile phones and the iPod, as well as a retractable USB cord and an AC adapter. Since it has a regular USB port, you can also use any existing power cable with it.

Price: $56.95

Kensington ultra slim universal laptop adapter

As I mentioned in the description of the APC battery pack, I change my machine quite a bit, so this Kensington ultra slim universal laptop adapter is another wise investment – it comes with power tips for most brands of laptop computers. In addition to being able to charge/power my laptop off AC, it can also be plugged into the Empower power jacks on many airlines. The charger is smaller and lighter than most original laptop power supplies. One oversight with the product is that they did not include a DC (car) plug with the AIR cable, so I had to invest $10 to get one from a different vendor.

As an extra bonus, the charger features a USB charging power port on the side, plus it operates off 100-240V, making it perfect for taking abroad. Along with the slim charger, I also carry the Kensington travel plug adapter with USB so I can plug my stuff in when I am abroad.

Price: $140

The total kit weighs just under 3 pounds, which is not too bad when you consider that it replaces every charger I used to carry, and that I can keep my laptop going for almost 8 hours (longer when I carry the 6 cell battery for my machine).

Every part of the kit fits inside 2 Tom Bihn packing organizers. The whole setup may seem quite extreme, but to someone who carries (too many) gadgets, it’s the perfect way to carry all that crap, and keep it all working. Total price for the kit is a bit over $300.

Do you have a favorite power product, or something you think is better than what I carry? Let me know in the comments!

Gadling’s Top 25 travel technology products of 2008 — Part 2

Blueant Supertooth 3

As more and more states introduce legislation banning calls without a handsfree device, portable handsfree devices have suddenly become more important than ever.

The Blueant Supertooth 3 is a very compact battery powered Bluetooth carkit with fantastic sound quality. The Supertooth 3 also features integrated text-to-speech and voice recognition.

The microphone inside the Supertooth 3 is so impressive that callers on the other end of your conversation will not even notice they are on a speakerphone.

By far the most impressive feature hidden away inside the Supertooth 3 is a vibration sensor that turns the unit off when your car stops moving. Thanks to this sensor, the carkit can provide you with several weeks of power. A smart magnetic clip even allows you to attach the Supertooth 3 on either side of your sun visor!

Why it matters to travelers: Small enough to fit inside your carry-on and perfect for your rental car.
Price: $129
Gadling review: October 29th 2008


When I am on the road with my gadgets, I fear 2 things; running out of power to keep them running, and losing them. I’ve made it a habit to double check all my bags and pockets before leaving the plane, and I’ll usually spend 10 minutes going through my hotel room before I check out. But at the end of the day, it’s always a possibility that I leave my phone or music player behind.

To help increase my chances of getting my stuff back, I’ve labeled my more expensive gadgets with a tag from Yougetitback. These tags contain a unique serial number as well as a phone number people can call to help me get my stuff back. Of course, the entire process depends on the honesty of whoever finds it, but at least I have a better chance of getting it back than leaving it behind without any form of identification attached.

Yougetitback sells tags in all shapes and sizes, including key protectors and luggage tags. When you activate a tag, you can even assign a reward to your account which will be paid to whoever is honest enough to call. Yougetitback takes care of the return shipping process, so the caller does not have to worry about any costs.

Why it matters to travelers: May help increase your chances of getting lost gadgets or luggage back.
Price: From $9.99
Gadling review: Coming soon.

Garmin Oregon 400t

The Garmin Oregon 400t is not your everyday GPS unit. While most manufacturers focus on bringing maps to your car, Garmin have spent a lot of time developing a GPS unit specifically for outdoors use.

The Oregon 400t is a rugged and waterproof touch screen device. Inside the unit is a high resolution topographic map designed for on the trail or water. The 400t even features a built in barometer and compass.

Thanks to its integrated geocaching support, you can start an outdoor adventure, and find your way home at the end of the day. The Oregon 400t even allows you to wirelessly send routes, tracks and other items to other Oregon GPS units.

Why it matters to travelers: The best way to find your way around when you leave civilization.
Price: $599
Gadling review: Coming soon

Slacker G2

The Slacker G2 is a portable music player with a twist; instead of relying on your own collection of music, you get access to millions of songs provided by the Slacker service. Slacker offers a wide selection of themed radio stations, but you can also build you own radio station filled with artists and music styles you chose. The Slacker G2 can refresh its music through Wi-Fi, which means you’ll be able to get online and grab a fresh batch of music, no matter where you are.

The player itself is quite small, but Slacker still managed to squeeze a large screen inside, as well as a battery with enough juice for almost 15 hours of playback. The player even comes complete with noise isolating headphones and a case.

Why it matters to travelers: New music on the road, without the need for a PC.
Price: From $199 (4GB/25 stations)
Gadling review: September 16th 2008

Proporta Gadget Bag

So, you’ve got an impressive lineup of gadgets for your upcoming trip, but how do you plan to carry it all with you?

In my case, I searched high and low, and finally found the perfect solution with the Proporta gadget bag. This 4 piece gadget bag is spacious enough to carry the most insane collection of gadgets. The main bag connects to 2 smaller bags using zippers, and a small internal bag holds all your little items.

Each bag even features a cable pass-through allowing you to keep gadgets inside the bag, and still use your headphones or charger cord.

Why it matters to travelers: Keeps all your gadgets in one convenient location, and can be split into 3 separate bags.
Price: $47.95
Gadling review: Coming soon

Kensington Travel plug adapter with USB charger

Take one part international plug adapter, add a USB charger, and you’ll get the Kensington International adapter with USB.

This adapter has retracting plugs for most countries in the world. What makes this product stand out, is that the top of the adapter can be removed, and replaced with an international USB charger.

Why it mat
ters to travelers:
A single device with international plugs and a USB charger
Price: $29.99
Gadling review: November 9th 2008

Slingbox Solo

Ever been stranded in a hotel room with nothing more than 6 channels of local programming and a barely functioning remote control?

The Slingbox Solo is the only product in this list that works best when left at home. The Slingbox Solo takes the signal from your home TV (cable, cablebox, DVR or satellite box) and “streams” it over the Internet.

By running the Slingplayer on your computer, you get full control over your video source back home thanks to a “virtual remote control”.

You can even access your Slingbox on a compatible mobile phone, or with the new Slingcatcher.

Why it matters to travelers: Watch your home TV when you are away from home.
Price: From $179.99
Gadling review: Coming soon

La Fresh travel wipes

La Fresh has the honor of being one of just a few non battery operated products in this list.

La Fresh produces a lineup of single use travel wipes. Their assortment includes the usual stuff like anti-bacterial wipes, but also deodorant, sunscreen, makeup remover and even shoe shine wipes.

Their single use travel combo packs include everything you could possibly need to freshen up if you find yourself away from the civilized world (or if the airline loses your bag!). Inside a small pouch is a deodorant wipe, a minty-mitt mouth wipe, nail polish remover, hydrating lotion and a shoe shine towelette.

Of course, because the towelettes contain very little liquid, you can carry them through the TSA checkpoint without getting hassled.

Why it matters to travelers: Perfect solution for a quick freshen-up on a trip.
Price: From $8.99 for a single use travel pack
Gadling review: August 14th 2008

MoGo Mouse

The MoGo mouse is a credit card sized mouse designed to fit inside the expansion slot of your laptop. You’ll need Bluetooth in your laptop (or a USB Bluetooth adapter), but the rest is all plug and play.

The mouse recharges in just a few minutes when inserted in your laptop and a small folding stand raises the mouse off your desk for ease of use. The mouse is surprisingly easy to use and is available for PCCard and Expresscard/54 laptops.

Why it matters to travelers: Easy to carry, and usually better than the built in mouse of your laptop.
Price: From $79.99
Gadling review: Coming soon

The Notebook Buffer

As portable computers become faster, the heat they produce increases. With some computers I have tested, I’ve measured well over 135F on the bottom of the machine. With heat like this, you get dangerously close to injury territory.

There have always been notebook cooling pads, but they add more bulk to your luggage, and the fans inside these coolers drain even more battery power from your laptop. In my quest for a better solution, I came across The Notebook Buddy.

This fabric mesh cooling pad is made of thousands of little springy pieces of plastic, allowing for air flow under your machine. The pad can be rolled up and stuffed in your carry on bag.

Why it matters to travelers: Allows you to use your notebook on your lap without burning yourself
Price: $18.95
Gadling review: October 9th 2008