Have you noticed that more and more small devices get charged through a simple USB connection… to name a few of those I have: the Blackberry, the Netgear Skype-phone, the iPod, point-and-shoot cameras, the Palm TX (with a special USB cable that Palm doesn’t provide). This is really great, except when you run out of USB ports on your laptop while travelling!
In recent years, companies such as SplashPower have been trying to solve the problem of charging all these little gizmos that fill our e-Life. Their approach was to have a universal “wireless” power charger that would enable you to simply drop your cell-phone or PDA on a “Splash-pad” to get it to charge. Great idea, but I still wait to see a commercial adoption of this type of technology. It also means that you need to take your charging pad with you when you travel, in addition to the power adapter for the laptop.
Other companies have gone the route of providing universal power adapters. Kensington can be found in every airport I’ve travelled to. They sell a power charger that not only supports 110-220V as well as car and airplane connectors, but where you can change the connector to charge various makes of laptops, your iPod can cell phones. The idea here has been to combine all the various power adapters into one that you can take with you when you travel.
But the route that more and more manufacturers seem to take to charge their gizmos is the 5V power provided through a USB connection. To name a few, the Blackberry and the iPod both provide this “feature”. As both devices provide additional features when connected to the computer through the USB port, this makes a lot of sense. And the great benefit of it is that when you travel, you only need to take the power adapter for the laptop and a few USB cables to charge all your devices. No more need to get the five different chargers in your luggage.
Sounds like a great solution. But a problem arises when you run out of USB connections on your laptop. As I need to charge my Blackberry daily when I travel, one of the two USB ports on the notebook is gone. It therefore comes to a point where you need to prioritize which device to charge when… really fun
The good news for iPod users is that you can still charge Apple’s MP3 player through Firewire connection (if you have a Mac at least), even if the latest generations can no longer synchronize songs with iTunes on that connection.
Two solutions therefore: Either get more USB ports on the laptop / get a USB hub with a power adapter while you travel or stop buying all these little devices…