Monday, April 13, 2009

Power Trip

My equipment list includes Blackberry, IPod and camera. Even though I have spare batteries at some point they are going to run out of juice and I will have a re-charging issue.

I’ve packed USB charging cables and a portable USB mini AC adapter so I do have the option to charge along the way and should be able to “borrow” an AC outlet. With 2 hour charging times per device I think I'd be spending most of my time sitting and watching the battery meter indicator so this is more a backup plan, I need something more convenient.

There are some interesting hand crank devices which provide enough output to charge a cell phone, downside is these are meant for emergency use, takes 2 minutes of cranking to get about 5 minutes of talk time, might be sufficient for making that last minute phone call, definitely not going to be enough to power up the phone for GPS and the IPOD for tunes.

Also looked at a number of portable solar chargers, the concept is great and I was all for going “Green” except for the fact they all seem to have serious limitations with the way they work. Unless you’re willing to spend some serious coin, the portable versions available today range between $100-200, not cheap either but definitely lower than ones that probably work. None of them I found are waterproof or even water resistant, some allow you to pre-charge using USB so that’s only good for the first time, after that you have to rely on the Sun. You need 8 full hours of direct sunlight and at specific angles to charge the unit properly, might be able to pull it off if I was sitting on a dock at the cottage for the day but not out on the water and not enough sunlight left when I get to camp. Just won’t work for an extended trip on water, in my opinion of course.

Solution, Energizer has a couple of products which take 2xAA batteries and will charg a cell phones and IPods. I can bring spare batteries and pick up new ones along the way at any marina or store. They are reasonably priced and give me exactly what I’m looking for, charge in the tent at night when I’m sleeping instead of searching out AC outlets or sunshine.

My only complaint is that the Cell Phone charger comes with 18 different cell phone connectors, everything except for the iPhone/iTouch, means you have to buy two different devices but they are both under $30 bucks each and small enough that it isn't that much of an issue. Instructions for the iPod charger don't list the iTouch as a compatible device but it does work with it. I can't confirm the iPhone and as long as it fits on the adapter base then should charge fine. Overall very impressed with it.

With 2 fresh Lithium AA's, iPod charger completely charged a completely dead battery in just under 2 hours. I then drained the battery until the 20% warning light came on and then charged again, took 1 hour 40 mintues to fully charge. That was about it for the batteries though, died at about the same time as the iPod hit 100% full. The specs say 2-3 charges and seeing as the iTouch is bigger than the ones it supports, good enough.

With 2 fresh Lithium AA's my Blackberry Curve charged in slightly over 2 hours from almost dead (battery was flashing and about to die) I then charged my Blackberry Pearl (yes i have 2 ok, 3 phones) battery was at 15% and took about an hour to charge to 75% before the batteries ran out of juice. Specs say 1 charge per set and I got almost 2 so happy about that.

If i don't let the devices hit much below 50% battery that's about 4 charges out of a set of batteries.

Duracell also has a full product line of similar devices. I like the Energizer Bunny too much to jump ship, excuse the pun.

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