What do you do when you hear the dreaded low-battery beep on your cell phone, far away from a power outlet? Talk faster?
One option is to recharge it with the iGo powerXtender Universal Battery-Powered Charger from Mobility Electronics, Inc. Using two AA batteries, the powerXtender can add hours of use to your phone, MP3 player and other gadgets when you’re in the air or on the trail.
With optional tips, it will charge many different models of phones, MP3 players, bluetooth headsets, digital cameras and portable gaming devices.
The company claims a pair of alkaline batteries will add six hours of runtime to a Blackberry 7280 smartphone or 28 hours to an iPod Nano. Batteries are easily replaced.
My iPod Touch, with less than half of its battery life remaining, was fully charged in less than two hours.
What I am really not impressed with is how the powerXtender rigidly connects to the device. For instance, it’s much thicker than my iPod Touch. So if I put the Touch—connected to the iGo tip and charger—on top of a desk, the difference in height puts pressure on the iPod’s power plug. Over time, I’d be concerned that might cause some problems with the plug and lead to a costly trip to the repair shop.
Or, leaving the charger dangling from a favorite gadget could cause similar issues because of the weight of the powerXtender.
My admittedly low-tech solution was to prop up the iPod with a pile of papers on a desktop to relieve the pressure on the plug.
This problem could be solved with a cable to connect the charging unit. The rigid tip may save some space, but it makes connecting to a device a bit gangly and awkward.
There are other options for power on the road.
My colleague, Tim Leffel, likes the Callpod Fuel Tank Charger. This device uses a short cable to connect to whatever gadget it’s charging, eliminating any pressure on the plug.
When I’m on the road, I carry an APC Mobile Power Pack, which has been discontinued by the manufacturer but is still available in some stores. (I also carry spare batteries for the cell phone and digital camera. But, of course, that’s not an option with the iPod since Apple techs believe they are the only ones capable of changing batteries.)
Both the Callpod and APC models are rechargeable instead of using standard, replaceable batteries. Both are more expensive than the iGo, which lists at $15.99. But the price can go up quickly, since each iGo tip you’ll need for a different device adds $9.99 or more. Some tips cost almost as much as the charger.
The iGo powerXtender could prove very handy for long flights, hikes or other times when a power plug is nowhere near. But consider all the options to decide which works best for you.