Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tech Column: Your Phone's Battery is Dying, Thank You

by Bill Adler

I had the not-so-good fortune of not finding a seat in the quiet car during a recent train trip from New York City to Washington, DC. You know what that means: Stock tips, personal advice and information about secret invasion plans.

Needless to say, I was totally uninterested and hoping that everyone's battery would die during the train ride. Unfortunately, Amtrak's equipped with something called electrical outlets, so that meant that by the end of the trip I enough information to make a fortune on the stock market.

Not every journey comes with electricity, so sometimes you need to bring along your own power to keep the conversation alive.

I've tried a lot of portable batteries, ranging from mammoth one-pound batteries to little guys that can slip inside your sock, if that's where you choose to carry your spare battery. There are a lot to choose from, but now that summer's here I want to recommend just two that you might consider taking along if you need a little extra talk or Facebook time.

The first is the New Trent Travelpak, www.newtrent.com, which comes in three capacities and sizes. It has dual USB ports for charging two devices at once (it's nice to share), and you can use it as a wall charger for your smartphone or tablet. Even the smallest, lowest capacity model will power your smartphone a couple of times. The Travelpak has built-in wall outlet prongs, so you don't need to take along any extra charging cables. The Travelpak has a bright LED light that tells you if it's charged. The light doubles as a night light, which can be a good thing or a bad thing. Personally, I haven't wanted a night light since I was five, but there it is.

The Powerstick by, well, Powerstick, www.powerstick.com, is smaller and more portable than the Travelpak, but it doesn't have as much capacity. Figure that it will provide a few extra hours, or 50 percent of your phone's capacity. With batteries, size matters, so if you want to travel light, you won't get as much power.

The Powerstick charges via a USB cable, so you'll need to take that along if you want to recharge it. You also need to carry a supplied 3-inch output cable to connect your device. The Powerstick displays the amount of available juice and holds its charge for about 12 months. Charge it up, pop it into your bag, and it will be there for you when you need it.

If neither of these suits your power needs, check out some of the larger batteries by New Trent, a brand that I've found to be hardy and reliable. Anker also makes excellent portable power solutions, www.ianker.com. Whatever solution you choose, be sure to take along a cable for your device; without that, you're out of luck.


Bill Adler is a writer. He is the author of "Boys and Their Toys: Understanding Men by Understanding Their Relationship with Gadgets," http://amzn.to/rspOft, "Outwitting Squirrels," http://amzn.to/VXuLBh, and a mess of other books. He tweets at @billadler. His tech column is published on Tuesdays.

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