The scoop: Summit 3000 rechargeable power bank, by MyCharge, about $80.
What is it? The Summit 3000 is a 3000mAh lithium polymer rechargeable battery that can recharge several different portable devices. It includes a built-in cable for Apple devices like the iPhone, iPod and iPad (at least the older Dock Connector models, not the new ones with the Lighting port). Another built-in cable is for micro-USB devices, which include several Android phone models. A USB port also allows for recharging devices if owners also have their own USB cable for recharging (this could be used, then, in theory, for iPhone 5 and iPad fourth-generation owners).
In fact, you can recharge three devices simultaneously (via the Dock Connector, USB port and micro-USB cable). However, there's a small issue: If three high-powered devices are connected at the same time, the Summit 3000 assigns priority charging to the Apple Dock Connector, then the USB connector, then the micro-USB cable. If you plug in lower-powered devices (such as an iPod Nano or iPod classic), simultaneous charging can occur.
Why it's cool: While the unit comes with its own USB cable for recharging the device off a laptop (like the Sojourn 1000 model), the extra cool part here is a fold-out power outlet prong, which lets you plug the Summit 3000 into a wall or power strip for super-fast recharging of the battery pack. Also cool is the voice notification feature: When you plug the unit into the wall, a pleasing voice tells you that it's charging. The voice also can tell you how much battery life you have on the recharger -- press a button and it will say things like "Battery is almost full." Cool!
Fully charged, the device can offer up to 13 extra hours of talk time for a phone (over a 3G network), and up to 10 hours of data time (again, over 3G -- Wi-Fi usage is likely less). If you want to use this unit as a synchronization bridge between an iPhone/iPod and a computer, you can do that as well.
Some caveats: At $80 it might seem a bit pricey for a rechargeable battery pack, but the ability to charge many portable devices at the same time (including a Bluetooth headset and an e-reader, for example) make this a great device to have in your laptop bag of gadgets.
Grade: 4 stars (out of five)
The scoop: PowerCup 200 Watt Inverter with USB Power Port, about $35.
What is it? 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.
Why it's cool: 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, etc.), as well as one USB-powered device (think iPod, iPhone, iPad, etc.). 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.
Some caveats: Be careful that you don't accidentally grab the PowerCup on your morning commute instead of your hot beverage. Or spill your coffee into the PowerCup.
Grade: 4 stars
Shaw can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @shawkeith.
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This story, "New options for powering gadgets while commuting" was originally published by Network World.