Travel gadgets corner: Handy travel charging solutions.
This time we present several alternative ways of charging your smartphone or tablet while traveling. The out of the box chargers are great when there is an access to the electricity grid but, as we all know, this is not always the case. Especially, when being on holiday. Even if we can charge our smartphone in the hotel room, we are, more often than not, away from it for the lengths of an entire day. Whether it’s a day on a beach or sightseeing, we have experienced the annoying feeling of irritation because of a drained battery, when there are still great snaps to be taken or things to be shared with friends back home. So, without further ado, here are some simple and brilliant solutions for keeping your gadgets alive on your travels:
Solartab - a portable solar charger and a back up battery that has been crowd funded through Kickstarter. A shape of a 11 inch tablet, comes with a protective case. It’s measurements are 9.7 x 7.6 x 0.35 inches and it weighs around 1.2 kg. It’s solidly built and has a machined aluminium frame. Inside Solartab, there is an ample 13,000 mAh rechargeable lithium polymer battery. The cover itself allows you to adjust the panel’s position so it’s always perfectly perpendicular to the direction of the sun rays (the most optimum place for any solar panel to work). It features two standard size USB output ports and there is also a micro USB port included. All of the ports are equipped with LED indicator light to inform you with a green glow that your plugged in smartphone or tablet is being charged. There is also an LED indicator of how much power is left in the panel’s battery. There is another LED light which comes on when Solartab is being charged by the sunlight. The unit comes with a normal wall adapter so it can be charged from the grid like any standard power bank. The maximum output is 5W / 2.1 which, in the real world, is perfectly fine to charge two smartphones at a decent rate before it goes completely flat. Solar performance is better than good. Leave if for a couple of hours in the full sun and you’ll have enough energy harvested to fully charge an iPhone 6s.
It performs very well and is ideal for anyone traveling to warm countries. It’s worth mentioning that Solartab is not water or dustproof so this is something that perhaps can be improved with future versions. Otherwise, we are very pleased with it.
Eton BoostTurbine 1000. This is a small power bank that is also equipped with a crank to manually charge it. It is a perfect solution for emergency situations and we would not recommend it as a main extra source of electricty, especially if you're a heavy gadget user. The BoostTurbine, however, is a great spare powersource to keep on you at all times. It is tiny and very light (4.3 x 7.1 x 4.3 cm and 181g), making it an ideal companion for trekkers, backpackers or camping afficionados. Equipped with a 1000 mAh battery allows you to charge most smartphones out there from 0 to around 50%. The unit can also be charged via usb from a wall socket which we recommend doing whenever it is possible and cranking it up every now and then.
The crank charging is rather for emergencies only. Situations when your phone battery is dead and you need to make a very important call. It is possible to fully charge your phone with the cranking mechanism but it would take a long time and probably give you a cramp in the arm muscle too. When we've tested it, 10 minutes of cranking charged our iPhone's 6 battery up to 5%. Not much you might say, but it is actually more than enough for an emergency call, several text messages or around 30 minutes of standby time. The main problem with the crank itself is the gear ratio used which is 2:1 resulting in a trickle charge effect. Better gear ratio would be very beneficial.
Overall, Eton BoostTurbine 1000 is a worthy accessory. There are also larger versions available with respectively 2000 and 4000 mAh batteries.