This week’s “Ask Gadling” question comes from Tim, who reached out on Twitter for some help on how to reduce the number of chargers he carries when he travels. Thankfully, I’m a bit of a charger nut, so I’ve been on a similar quest for many years.
Of course, the increase in the number of chargers we carry is related to the number of gadgets we travel with. Ten years ago, most people probably carried a mobile phone and a portable CD player. Nowadays, it isn’t unthinkable to travel with a mobile phone, game console, Bluetooth headset, portable DVD player, MP3 player, digital camera and more. And thanks to the efforts of consumer electronics producers, almost every gadget comes with its own specific charger plug.
Thankfully, there are products out there that can lighten your load and turn you into a single charger traveler.Step 1 – Identify your needs
Check all your chargers for duplicates – as more gadgets switch to similar connectors, you may be able to reduce the number you carry just by sharing between products. In some cases, your mobile phone may use the same charger as your headset.
When you go over your chargers, pay close attention to more than just the plug – the voltage settings are also important, and some devices may have special requirements, so be sure your replacement charger matches the requirements of both devices.
Make the move to USB
Most gadgets are relatively lower power devices – making them perfect for charging using USB cables. Everything from your Nintendo DS to your mobile phone can be charged using a simple (and lightweight) USB cable. When searching for a USB cable, find one as short as possible – just keep in mind that your gadget may have to hang from a charger in the wall.
Your final objective is to have a USB charging cable for each of your gadgets – and be able to leave dedicated chargers at home. Every charger that can only charge one product is something you don’t want to carry.
A good example of a simple short cable set is the Griffin kit pictured above, and mentioned here on Gadling earlier this month.
Replace your laptop charger with a lighter version that offers USB charging
When identifying your chargers, don’t forget to find a better alternative for your laptop charger. Many of these chargers are bulky, and can be replaced by much smaller versions. Best of all, some of these new lighter laptop chargers also offer USB charger ports – with this, you can turn two chargers into just one. In addition to be being much lighter, these chargers also work with interchangeable tips – so if you switch laptop brand in a few years, you just swap out the tip and it’ll be good to go on your new machine.
Some reliable smaller laptop chargers come from Innergie, Targus, Kensington and Igo. Another important feature of these chargers is that some come delivered with car/air plugs as well as AC/wall.
Find a 4-in-1 USB charger
OK – so not everyone travels with four mobile phones, but a 4-in-1 USB charger can of course charge more than just phones. When I travel, I carry a Kensington 4-port USB charger. Each port is capable of charging up to 500mAh, so my devices charge in about the same speed as their original. If I need a speedier charge, I’ll plug two devices in at the same time, instead of four.
When four ports is not enough…
Alright, so you already know you are a bit of a freak – you need to charge six devices at the same time, and would prefer to do so without carrying six different chargers? For you my friend, there is the Chargepod by Callpod.
The Chargepod is a single charge capable of charging six devices at the same time. Best of all, the Chargepod offers charging tips for almost every mobile gadget every designed – and it starts at just $39.95 for a kit.
To make the kit even better, the power tips that fit the Chargepod also fit the Callpod Fueltank battery packs – which means you only need to invest in power adapters once to get yourself a power system that works with or without outlets.
If you already know that your power needs will continue to grow, the investment in a Chargepod and Fueltank won’t cost more than $100, and will have you set for years to come.