USB For Every Occasion and Location

USB For Every Occasion and Location

Jeff Heaton
Feb 13, 2012

With mobile technology practically an extension of every part of our lives now, it's hard to remember a time when information wasn't available at our fingertips nearly anywhere and everywhere we go. But having your device always in the pocket, always in use, or at least on standby mode, puts some serious demands on the battery. Which is why we often find ourselves in need of a USB power plug, both at home and while we're out and about...

1. On a Bike: DIY Bike Generator
Generating adequate power at speeds above 7 mph, this Bike Generator will make use out of that daily commute. While we don't recommend using it in the rain, this device does have two USB ports to most generator's one. Certainly it takes a little skill to rig up but Dbc1218, the creator, has detailed instructions with pictures.

2. The Backyard: Biolite ($129)
The backyard, deep in the woods, just about anywhere you can find twigs really is a viable option for using the Biolite. A combination stove/USB charger, the Biolite extends the range of your electronic devices while reducing weight and garbage by using combustible materials. It's fast to boil water or roast a marshmallow, and we of course like that it gives us the ability to charge far from a power source or even the sun.

3. On Foot: MightyMintyBoost
MintyBoost would already be a contender for the best on-foot power accessory, but with the addition of a solar panel you're pretty much golden. While some technical skills and a couple extra parts are required to build it, they're nothing you can't pick up quickly. We like the addition of a velcro backing to strap it to your bag for easy carrying.

4. In a Car: Highway Pro USB ($40)
There are gobs of car chargers for just about every device, including an array of USB ports. We like the Highway Pro above the others because it's stylish (aluminum, diamond tread pattern on the head and a subtle, apple-eque green power light) and effective (two ports, with a fast charger for the iPad and a fuse to protect against power surges).

5. Every Outlet Anywhere: RCA's USB Wall Plate Charger ($19.99)
One of the quiet winners of this years CES innovation awards, RCA's USB charger is an add-on version of past USB outlets that we've seen. Simple and effective, strategic placement means you don't have to move a bunch of chargers around your house; just plug and play. We like it because it takes the hassle out of installation and the possibility that your outlet isn't deep enough.

6. When all the Plugs are Taken: PlugBug ($34.99)
We've covered the PlugBug plenty, but it definitely makes this list for usefulness. Traveling with it makes things simple and dealing with a cramped set of plugs in our home office and a ton of devices already plugged into the power strip means this little guy gets lots of use. Optimized to charge the iPad as fast as possible, the extra USB leaves an outlet open if nothing else.

7. In the Dark: Hodge Podge Lamp
We love devices that multitask and the Hodge Podge is a perfect example. Cork for your gadgets to gently rest on, an alarm clock for your bedside table and of course a USB charger to keep things juiced up. We like it when devices double as decor.

What's With the iPhone "Charging Not Supported" Error?
How To: Upgrade a Wall Outlet to USB Functionality
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