Product review – Kensington 4 port USB charger for mobile devices

In this brief product review I’ll give you a quick look at the new Kensington 4 port USB charger for mobile devices. Despite a long and complicated sounding name, the product is about as simple as it gets.

The charger is nothing more than a power brick, with 4 USB ports. While this may sound boring, it is actually one of the most convenient chargers I’ve seen in ages. Almost all my pocket gadgets charge over USB nowadays. Everything from my mobile phone to my iPod can be charged using a simple USB cable and charger. With that in mind, I can now carry a single small charger, and power 4 gadgets at the same time.

The concept is similar to the Chargepod, which I reviewed here last year. Of course, you’ll still need to carry the USB cables required for your device, but with just a single power brick, you’ll reduce the amount of stuff you need to carry with you. If you carry a laptop, you can use its USB ports to charge your devices, but that means you’ll have to keep the computer on.

The Kensington 4 port USB charger for mobile devices operates on voltages from 100-240 Volts, so you can safely bring it abroad, as long as you carry a suitable plug adapter for the outlet at your destination. The unit provides up to 2 amps of power, which is enough to provide full power to all 4 gadgets at the same time.

You’ll find the Kensington 4 port USB charger for mobile devices at ($29.99) and Amazon ($21.99). Several of the Amazon reviews mention that it did not charge their devices, but I have connected it to every USB device I could find, and it always charged them correctly.

My only minor complaint with the device is the lack of folding prongs. Other than that it is simple, reliable and affordable. If you travel with more than one USB powered device, it’s certainly a product I can recommend.

Daily deal – Kensington 120W universal AC laptop adapter for $30

My daily deal for today is for a Kensington laptop AC adapter. This device can deliver laptop power up to 120W, making it idea for most machines, including those that require a little extra juice, like 17″ laptops.

The adapter comes with power tips for Dell, HP, Compaq, IBM, Lenovo, Toshiba, Sony, Gateway and Acer laptop computers.

A charger like this is idea if you need a cheap replacement or spare power adapter for your laptop. The Kensington 120W universal AC laptop adapter is on sale at for just $30, and comes with free shipping. Of course, with a price this low you do need to know that the charger has been refurbished, which means it was once returned to the vendor, but has been returned to its “as new” condition.

At a price this low, I can highly recommend picking one up and keeping it around, “just in case”. Laptop adapters are often one of the things people tend to forget at their hotel, and an original replacement adapter for most laptops can cost as much as $100.

Budget Travel: Toronto

With a metro area of more than 8 million people, Toronto is one of North America’s largest cities. It is the economic and cultural center of Canada and is by far the country’s most international city. Even when compared to New York and LA, it is a culturally diverse place. Nearly half of Toronto’s residents were born outside of Canada. Because all these different cultures have been absorbed into one place, Toronto is unlike anywhere else.

It is also a destination for budget travelers who want an urban vacation but do not want to deal with New York or LA prices.

Getting in

It is easy to get to Toronto by car. Highways 404, 401, 400 and 427 converge on the city. Driving is also advantageous if you plan to explore the outlying areas of this spread out metropolis.

Pearson Int’l Airport hosts a majority of the flights from the US. You might be able to hook into a cheap Air Canada flight, although it is often a better investment to fly into Buffalo and then take a bus to Toronto. Megabus runs regular service between NYC and Toronto via Buffalo. Greyhound also runs the route, as well as connecting Toronto with Chicago and Detroit.
Getting around

The subway is the way to go. Weekly passes cost $32, while daily passes are $9. Buses and street cars are also reliable, but not during high traffic times, when they, like cars, get caught in the rush. Public transit is necessary downtown and in high traffic areas, but if you plan to explore further, a car is the best option as taxis are not cheap.

Where to stay

Global Village Backpackers and the downtown Hostelling International are both good bets for those who travel light and want to keep their hotel fees light as well. Spartan accommodations are the name of the game at both these venues, but if you don’t care about noise and luxury, you’ll be good. Another hostel is Kensington Castle. It offers much more personality than the previously mentioned pair, but the accommodations are pretty much the same. You will be within walking distance of Kensington Market and downtown Toronto.

There are some good two-star inns right downtown. The Bond Place Hotel is definitely a good value as is the Best Western Primrose.

Being a large city, there are plenty of mid-range chain hotels. Holiday Inn Express and Best Western usually offer decent value for the price.

What to see

Toronto Music Garden is designed by famed cellist Yo-yo Ma. It is meant to represent Bach’s First Suite for Unaccompanied Cello. It is a haven of green in the center of the city (and admission is free).

The CN Tower
is one of Canada’s iconic landmarks. It is one of the seven modern wonders of the world. Standing at 1,815.39 ft, it is the tallest free-standing structure in the Americas.

Central Toronto is also home to the Wednesday night art crawl. Unlike some cities, where art galleries open their doors to the public once a month, it is a weekly occurrence in Toronto.

Take the ferry to Toronto Island Park. There are several miles of bike trails and the shoreline offers superb views of the city skyline. Also, there is Hanlan’s Point Beach, where you don’t even have to own a swimsuit to take a dip in the lake. That’s right: clothing optional.

The Kensington neighborhood is easily accessible by public transit as it is directly adjacent to Downtown. This neighborhood offers a rather bohemian vibe. It is full of bistros and cafes serving good food for good value. There are also plenty of thrift stores, if you are looking for a bargain but weren’t able to find anything Downtown. Kensington Market offers interesting and eclectic shopping and eating options. Russian bakers, Vietnamese food stalls and vintage clothing booths sit side by side.

Toronto’s Chinatown is one of North America’s biggest. More of a pan-East Asian town, there are plenty of eating opportunities and, though most of the shops are aimed at Asian clientele, anyone can find good deals by simply wandering down the narrow market aisles.

There are beaches all along the strip of land where Toronto and Lake Ontario meet. Though a majority of the year brings cold temps and, therefore no swimming, the summer means that many locals are out taking advantage of the sun and warm weather. The lake is not the best place to swim however, so swim only in marked areas to avoid currents. Authorities test water for pollutants daily in swimming areas.

The Toronto Zoo is definitely impressive. A $20 admission might seem expensive, but there is enough to keep you busy for an entire day. This is a solid investment if you have kids.

Product review – Kensington Auxiliary dock for iPod Nano

In this brief product review I’m going to introduce one of the newest products in the Kensington 2009 lineup.

The Kensington Auxiliary dock for the iPod Nano is a portable iPod dock designed to plug directly into the AUX jack found on many car stereos.

The device comes with 4 different iPod Nano inserts, and fits every model from the first Nano to the current 4th generation.

The dock itself is as simple as can be – the dock plugs into the headphone jack on your iPod, and the folding audio jack on the back of the dock plugs into your stereo.

I’ll pretend I know what you are thinking, and yes; a regular stereo cable will do the exact same thing, but the auxiliary dock does it so much nicer.

It also brings your iPod up by your stereo, and allows you to change tracks or pause the music without having to reach for your player. Of course, it also prevents the iPod from sliding around in the center console or passenger seat of your rental car.
When you are not using it, you simply unplug the device from your car stereo, and fold the connector inside the dock. It’s a simple yet efficient and well designed little product.

There is of course one drawback to the unit – your iPod does not charge when it is plugged into the dock, nor do you have access to a charger port, but with iPod battery life at an all time high, that may not be a huge problem.

The Kensington Auxiliary dock for the iPod Nano will be available from and other Kensington retailers soon, and retails for $24.95.

I have included some other images of the product in the gallery below.


Daily deal – Kensington iPod and iPhone battery pack for $26.24 (after rebate)

My daily deal for today is for a product I reviewed last year. The Kensington Mini battery pack and charger for iPod and iPhone is (as the name implies), a portable backup battery pack for your iPod or iPhone.

The device can charge off any USB charger or USB port, and comes complete with a retractable miniUSB charging cable.

The battery pack can add up to about 30 hours of music playtime, 6 hours of video, or 3 hours of talk time. To start charging your device, you simply plug the battery pack into the dock connector of your iPod.

When I wrote my review, this product retailed for about $47. It has since come down in price, and is on sale at for $36.24. The deal gets even sweeter once you apply the Kensington $10 rebate to your purchase.

The rebate form is valid for purchases made till January 11th, so don’t wait too long. will ship the unit for free.