Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Tech Column: Alternative Energy

by Bill Adler

I wonder what made me think about alternative ways to power electronics as the subject for my tech column this week?

I want to talk briefly about a minimal approach that may help see you through the next power outage. And unfortunately, there will be a next power outage.

I have a large capacity battery backup, the APS SX 1500, http://amzn.to/NfhmB4, but it's not for my computer. It's for my cable modem and router, which draw less power but which are more important during a power failure. As long as my cable modem and router are running, I can connect to the Internet with a laptop or tablet computer. I selected the APS XS 1500 for a couple of reasons, including that it has a "silence" button on the front. Large battery backups beep loudly and continually by default to let you know that the power is out. You wouldn't know otherwise, right? My last battery backup didn't have a silence button, which resulted in its execution by recycling.

I keep a large capacity portable lithium ion battery charged and at the ready, the New Trent iCarrier 12000mAh, http://amzn.to/N7hmos. The New Trent battery is light and portable and provides many extra hours of battery life for a smartphone or tablet.

I have my eye on a new portable battery though, the Hyperjuice Plug, which has even more capacity, and which cleverly includes built-in electrical outlet prongs. You can read more about the Hyperjuice Plug at www.hypershop.com.

I also have a smaller capacity ZaggSparq battery, www.zagg.com/accessories/zaggsparq.php, with built-in electrical outlet prongs. At $99, though, the New Trent and Hyperjuice give you more capacity per dollar.

Finally, I own a Revolve hybrid battery, http://amzn.to/NfjBnR, which can be charged in an electrical outlet, or by using solar power. The Revolve Electronics xeMilo Hybrid USB Charger and Battery Backup has only a fraction of the capacity of the New Trent and Hyperjuice batteries, but it does have the unlimited power of the sun to tap into.

Are you driving somewhere? If you don't have a car charger for your smartphone or tablet, such as the Scosche Dual USB Car Charger, http://amzn.to/xI2B53, get a universal charger that will resuscitate your device while you're on your way to pick up ice.

Which brings me to the conclusion of this week's tech column: If have have electricity on your mind, you should also have a tablet computer on your mind. Tablet computer batteries last much longer than most laptop batteries, and can be charged using a portable battery with a USB power output. Laptops need to be plugged into AC power and are very un-handy during prolonged power outages.


Bill Adler is the co-publisher of the Cleveland Park Listserv, www.cleveland-park.com. He is the author of "Boys and Their Toys: Understanding Men by Understanding Their Relationship with Gadgets," http://amzn.to/rspOft. He tweets at @billadler.

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