Sunday, June 29, 2008

Review: Gomadic Charging System

With the plethora of electronic devices that makes up my personal travel kit nowadays (chiefest of which is the Kindle) comes also a multiplicity of chargers that I had to carry. While most chargers nowadays come ready-to-travel (110-240 chargers come with nearly every device), having to carry one for each device sucks. Roberto says his personal solution is to stop buying products that don't charge using the mini-USB plug, but I personally don't have that kind of discipline, so end up with needing to charge the Kindle, ipod, AA batteries, and blackberry (the only device I own that takes the mini-usb plug).

There are basically two systems that offer a modular socket, so you can basically plug one universal charger into any number of devices: the iGo or the Gomadic. The iGo system is about twice as expensive per tip as the Gomadic system. The difference? Compatibility with Nokia phones. Apparently, Nokia's charging setup is so screwed up that it requires intelligence on the charging side to regulate the charging system. The result is that you apparently have to build smarts into the tips, which quadruples their costs.

Since I don't own a Nokia phone, I bought the Gomadic, along with the extended battery pack. I bought 4 tips: mini-USB, standard USB, kindle, and ipod. My brother pointed out that I should have bought two of each tip, since they were so cheap, and I would eventually lose a tip. I realized that I should have bought the double charger instead, which would have let me charged two devices with one charger.

Why the standard-USB plug? Because in combination with the Sanyo AA USB charger, I get the ability to recharge NiMH AA batteries, which is what my Garmin GPSMap 76CSX takes. So now I can leave for a bike tour with all these tips and be able to charge every device I am likely to have with me (I am unlikely to have an ipod with me, however!).

I've used the Gomadic charger in both the USA and in Europe, and so far, it's worked like a champ. Note that Gomadic tries to sell you on the fact that this charger will deliver 1000mA to your device, so it will charge twice as quickly as the typical charger. In reality, I have not found that to be true at all --- it takes just as long to charge my Kindle or iPod with my Gomadic as with plugging it into the standard charger. But in any case, if you travel at all, or is sick of having to constantly plug in a different charger into the wall socket, I can recommend the Gomadic device to you --- unless you own a Nokia phone.
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