CHARGE: Power-related gift ideas for the holidays

While battery technology makes slow advances, at least we have other ways of keeping our gadgets up and running when either at home or on the road.

Holiday gift guide 2012

A quick guide to Network World's favorite gifts

The following are some recommendations of power-related gadgets from the 2012 Cool Yule Tools holiday gift guide.

[ FREE DOWNLOAD: The law of unintended storage consequences ]

Note: Products are listed in no particular order or preference. Prices are also rounded-up estimates from either the product's website or Better deals may be offered online during the holiday season.

PowerCup 200 Watt Inverter with USB Power Port

$35 (Amazon)

Shaped like a large-size cup of coffee that you'd get at Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts, the PowerCup fits nicely into your car's standard cup holder slot. But instead of coffee, tea or hot chocolate coming out of the cup, instead you get power for your mobile devices.

The PowerCup lets you power up two regular "household devices" through its regular power ports (basically you could power a laptop, DVD player, blender, fan), as well as one USB-powered device (think iPod, iPhone, iPad) The PowerCup itself is charged via your car's cigarette lighter adapter, so as long as your cup holders are near the cigarette lighter port, you're good to go.

Just be careful that you don't accidentally grab the PowerCup on your morning commute instead of your hot beverage.

- Keith Shaw

Verbatim AA Power Pack

$17 (Amazon)

Verbatim markets its rechargeable device as a way to talk longer, listen to more music, play more games, watch more videos without worrying about running out of battery life. The company says the AA Power Pack can add up to 8 hours of additional talk time, 24 hours of music time or 6 hours of additional video play.

Well that may be true, but I tested the charger on my Bluetooth headset. Did it let me continue to talk as my battery ran out? No. Even though the power pack weighs less than 1 pound, it's unlikely I could keep my headset in my ear to continue talking while attached to the battery pack.

So there is a practical question. When would you use it? Sure, if you were stuck in the desert without an electrical outlet in sight, then yes, the power pack would come in handy. Aside from that, it comes down to the use of battery (which, by the way, are not included). Unless you have rechargeable batteries, you are stuck buying batteries and hoping that your device is recharged enough before the batteries die. The AA Power Pack charges devices such as the iPhone, BlackBerry, and Samsung Galaxy, but does not work with the iPad, Nook tablet or Kindle Fire.

- Ryan Francis

Verbatim Dual USB Power Pack


While most of my day I seem to be near an electrical outlet for recharging devices, many travelers often find themselves searching for an outlet. Even airports that may have outlets available seem to be crowded with people who guard them like the last available donut on the planet.

The Dual USB Power Pack lets you power up your iPad and iPhone at the same time, giving you some additional talk time or Internet data time for that device. A full charge of the power pack can add up to 42 hours of additional talk time, 120 hours of music time or 30 hours of additional video viewing, Verbatim says.

You can charge the power pack through your laptop, but doing it this way takes 15 hours for a full charge. You can cut that time in half by using an AC adapter, but it's not included with the package. Weighing less than a pound, the unit is very easy to take on the road with you. The worthiness of this product comes down to a matter of whether you are going to be away from an electrical outlet for a long period of time.

- Ryan Francis

MyCharge Sojourn 1000 rechargeable power bank


The Sojourn 1000 is a portable 1000mAh rechargeable battery with built-in cords that help you recharge an iPod or an iPhone (ones with the Apple Dock Connector, not the new Lightning port). With a fully charged battery, the device can offer up to an additional four hours of talk time on a 3G phone, or up to three hours of Web browsing time.

The device itself is recharged through a built-in USB cable that you attach to a computer - unfortunately you can't recharge this through a regular power outlet. An LED battery level indicator tells you how much battery power is left on the Sojourn 1000. When connected by USB to the computer and to an iPhone/iPod via the Dock Connector, you can synchronize data between the iOS device and the computer with the press of a button.

The device is small enough to throw into a laptop bag for travelers, and can be a life-saver if you need some additional juice for your phone before you can get back to your regular power recharger.

- Keith Shaw

1 2 3 Page 1
ITWorld DealPost: The best in tech deals and discounts.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon