With two teenage daughters and a pre-teen son, we have been playing a new game in our house: “musical chargers.” Phones, tablets, earpieces, video cameras: they all need a charger and electrical outlet real estate. There had to be a better way.
Well, there is! The Wiremold® USB/Multi-Outlet Charging Station plugs into a conventional outlet and gives you three outlets, four USB ports, and a surround to help manage the cables. Widely available at local stores and online for less than $20. We now have five. Great product!
If you have a recent iPhone or tablet, they come with a Lightning cable. They aren’t very long and in my experience have not proven very durable. Between co-workers and family, we tried a number of aftermarket cables. Some didn’t prove entirely compatible, some didn’t last much longer, and they all seemed to be a foot too short!
I’ve had good success with the six foot AmazonBasics Apple-certified cables. The connectors are larger than the stock connectors and may interfere with some cases. But I’ve been using them for more than a year at home, office and car and they’ve held up well.
Speaking of car charging, I also did a modestly extensive test of accessory plug chargers. I was looking for one with two plugs, and full output charging for each: I wanted to be able to charger an iPad while using GPS.
The Belkin 2 port car charger puts out 2.1 amps per USB port and is available with Lightning or Micro USB cables. $15 to $25, depending on what you get for cables. Also widely available online and in stores.
Finally, if you need a really portable automotive jump starter that can double as a cell phone or laptop charger, check out the MicroStart XP1 or the EarthX Jump Pack. These products weigh one pound or less, can jump start any car and even some diesel trucks, charge your cell phone and laptop, and are airline-safe. The EarthX product uses LiFeP04 battery chemistry.
I first started using the MicroStart over a year ago as an emergency backup while motorcycle camping. Most modern bikes have fuel injection, won’t easily bump-start, and are not designed to start in low temps. It saved us several times as well as proving useful as a portable phone charger. Last winter we left it in the car and it started three in succession. Then I took it on a cross-country plane flight and was able to run my laptop the entire flight. This winter I’ll be taking it snowmobiling for sure! Different models available from $100 to $150.