Saturday, December 10, 2011

Tech Column: Power to the Mobile Devices

by Bill Adler

The sentence, “My phone died,” should never have to be said. While smartphones’ battery life is limited --these phones are indeed power hogs-- you can extend your phone’s or tablet computer’s battery life indefinitely.

When I know I’m going to be out for more than 15 minutes (which is how long my iPhone’s battery feels like it lasts), I carry a lightweight lithium battery power pack. With that, I can double or triple the battery life of my phone and iPad -- or even longer than that.

Rechargeable, external batteries can power a multitude of devices. One battery does the job for both my iPhone and iPad, plus any random stranger’s Android phone.

These batteries vary in price, weight and size, depending on your needs. Generally, the more power, the greater the weight. Some external batteries are powered by the sun --so cool-- and those tend to be a bit larger.

The New Trent iCruiser fits in your pocket and will give you extra energy to make it through the day: Figure 50 hours of extra movie watching on your iPhone and 17 hours on your iPad. That will certainly last you on a flight from here to Sydney. You can read more about the iCruiser here: .

I never travel without my iCruiser. In addition to having ample power for a long trip, it’s nice not to have to fight for an electrical outlet at the airport.

The New Trent iGeek is a little lighter than the iCruiser, but still gives you an extra 45 hours on your iPhone and 18 hours on your iPad: .

The number you should keep an eye out for is the one that precedes mAh: The greater the milliamperes/hour, the longer the battery will power your device or the more charges it will give. The other number you’ll need to look out for is voltage. Smartphones need 5v batteries, but iPads need 10v. If you want to be able to charge your tablet, make sure you get an external battery that provides ample voltage.

The Lexus of battery backups is the Evolve XeMini, , which can be recharged by the sun or by plugging it it. The XeMini gives your iPhone an extra 6.5 hours of talk time, and your Blackberry an additional 8 hours to yak. The XeMini can charge two devices at once. It also doubles as a wall charger. (The irony is that it will keep your phone charged at the beach, but do you want to keep your phone charged at the beach?)

If you want something just for your smartphone that’s light and portable, Duracell’s Instant Charger is your ticket to mobile freedom in a lightweight and inexpensive package: .

The PowerGen External Battery Pack is another excellent battery: It can provide hours and hours of additional power in a sleek package: .

But what about laptops? Well, there are portable power solutions for laptops, too. Keep in mind that the larger power consumption of laptops means that you won’t get as much out of an external battery as you will with a phone or tablet. Still, a battery like the Tekkeon myPower, , can get you through an extra movie on that flight to London. Be sure to get the right adapter for your laptop if your get the Tekkeon. You can’t simply plug your laptop into a USB port, as you can with the smartphone and table computer batteries.

If you’re going anywhere over the holidays, having portable power can make your journey more enjoyable.


Bill Adler is the co-publisher of the Cleveland Park Listserv, He is the author of "Boys and Their Toys: Understanding Men by Understanding Their Relationship with Gadgets," . He tweets at @billadler.

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