New USB powerboards let travellers leave the chargers at home

By danwarne, July 12 2011
New USB powerboards let travellers leave the chargers at home

There are two universal constants of business travel: your hotel room won't have enough conveniently-located power points, and all your gadgets need one charger each (if you want to charge them simultaneously, at least).

We've previously recommended a great solution to the first problem: pack a powerboard whenever you travel (especially useful for overseas trips, as it means you only have to pack one plug adaptor).

However, there's a great new solution to the second problem, too: powerboards with USB charging outlets built in.

With these power strips, no separate chargers are required for your gadgets -- you just need to remember to bring the relevant USB cords and plug them straight into the powerboard.

For example, this Jackson powerboard, available for $29.95, offers four power outlets and two USB ports for direct charging of gadgets.

Obviously, with a reduced number of chargers you might not need all four power points, so there's also a compact travel powerboard model with two standard A/C outlets and two USB ports built into the powerboard.

If you don't really like travelling with a powerboard in your luggage (they are quite bulky, after all) the $24 Kensington four-port USB charger might be the ticket. It has interchangeable prongs, too, so you don't even have to carry a plug adaptor.

On the go

When you're on the go, outside the hotel, there are any number of battery-powered chargers for your devices.

Last year, we looked at the Energizer XP4001 battery pack, which has two USB ports on it to simultaneously juice up two gadgets.

iPhone users can also put their phone in a battery case which will double the battery life of the handset. (Earlier this year we looked at the best battery cases for iPhones).

Battery cases are becoming available for other phones too, including HTC, Samsung and BlackBerry handsets. There's a range from XPAL called "PowerSkins" now available.

In the car

You may have faced similar problems in the car. A single cigarette lighter outlet isn't always convenient when you to keep the GPS navigator, iPhone and kids' portable DVD player or iPad charged up on trips.

TomTom has a solution for that. The $39.95 TomTom High Speed Multi-Charger is a nifty triple-adaptor for your car's cigarette lighter.


It gives you two USB outlet ports for direct charging of devices, plus another cigarette lighter socket for 12 volt devices designed to plug into the car, rather than USB (like portable DVD players).

One of the two USB ports puts out 2.1 amps -- enough to fast-charge an iPad, while the other puts out a more conventional 1 amp for devices like a mobile phone.


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