Digital Minefield

Why The Machines Are Winning

Help for the Mobile Dilemma


I have complained about archaic battery technology in this blog a number of times. But I had no better answer. Now, with an upcoming trip, I was faced with packing four different chargers for my four mobile devices. As it often comes, out of necessity I’ve found a few answers.

A small portable battery as a backup to your cell phone (actually any device needing its own charger) is not a new idea. But what I found was new to me because it does so much more. The specific device is an Energizer Portable Charger XP4001. It provides a battery (with its own charger) that can portably charge two devices at once. Any two devices! The battery comes with two short standard USB cords that terminate in a universal jack. The latter accommodates a multiplicity of plugs (called tips), fitting a multitude of devices. In my case, a Kindle Fire, a Sony Walkman, and two cell phones.

In the process of searching for this device, I discovered a small, cheap AC plug with a USB receptacle. (I saw one online for under a dollar.) This plug is much smaller and much lighter than any charger. To charge any device it only needs a cord with a USB plug and the device’s plug. Those cords and the special plugs are supplied with my new portable battery.

So now, for this trip, instead of carrying four chargers for my four devices (or hoping they stay charged), I only need this portable battery (and its charger) plus two USB cords and four tiny tips. But I’ll also carry my new little AC/USB plug and the USB cord for my Walkman, thus allowing me to charge three devices at once. The result: More power, less weight, fewer long cords, and a battery backup to boot.

That’s the good news—but it’s minimal. This battery charger was on sale at Target for under $30. Is it being discontinued? Are there others out there? Something better? And why am I so pleased with such a small technological improvement?

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