Friday, June 5, 2015

Product Review: Recharging Cables

& is used with permission.
Last week's post on the Etón FRX2 felt like it was missing something, and now I remember what it was: a good charging cable.. or three.
  • If you wanted to charge your FRX2 from an outlet or USB port, you'd need a USB to Micro-USB cord. Fortunately, the FRX2 comes with one of those. 
  • Handily, this cable can be turned around and used to charge a tablet from the FRX2's battery. Hooray for double use!
  • But if you wanted to charge your iPhone from the FRX2, you'd need a USB to Apple 30-pin connector. 
  • And if you have a camera or other device that uses a different kind of adapter head, you need one of those as well. 
So now you're carrying several cords to charge your devices, and while not heavy they are bulky and likely to get tangled with each other. If only there were a way to combine their functions into a single cord!

Fortunately, there are ways. Two of them, in fact. 

Power Practical Fast Charge 3 in 1 Cable
The first solution comes from Power Practical: a 9 inch long cord with a USB plug on one end that branches out into three flat cables ending in Mini-USB, Micro-USB and Apple 30-pin connectors.
I received mine when I got the Power Pot for Christmas, but you can also buy it separately from Amazon.

Not only does this nicely consolidate the most common cords you will need for using your FRX2 (iPhone 5 users will need to buy a 30-pin to Lightning adapter for $10), but these cords are also optimized for power transfer and do not transfer data. That last feature can be a big help if the only place you have to plug in your smartphone is a computer, and you either don't want it to start synching or you're concerned about viruses from one getting onto the other. 

I keep mine in a a Ziploc bag alongside my FRX2 and several packets of silica dessicant to absorb moisture. 

Highly Recommended. $12.00 from Amazon

But what if you need to charge something that uses a more specialized tip? Say, a Nokia or a Samsung phone? No worries, Goal Zero has you covered. 

Goal Zero Medusa USB Universal Adapter
This beast has no fewer than ten separate tips:
  1. Micro-USB
  2. Mini-USB
  3. Nokia N90
  4. Nokia 8250
  5. Samsung D800
  6. Samsung 1900
  7. PSP
  8. LG
  9. Apple 30-pin  (sorry, iPhone 5 users, you still need to buy that 10 buck adapter)
  10. USB Female 
The cord itself is 5.5 inches long and comes with a male-to-female USB whose cord is almost two feet long, but when stored (by wrapping the cable around the hub) it reduces to only two inches in length.

I am a bit annoyed and perplexed at the USB female adapter. I suppose that is to allow daisy-chaining of more cords, but I would worry about too much drain on the charger/not enough power for the device if that approach was used. Personally, I would have replaced the USB female with a Lightning adapter.  

That said, I still like this cable very much, and it too does not synchronize data. I keep mine in my bug-out bag so I may recharge a variety of things with my solar panel (also a Goal Zero). Keep in mind, though, that if you plan to bug out with both a laptop and iPod/iPhone/etc then you need to pack a sync cable as well, or else you're stuck with whatever music you already have loaded on your device!

I bought mine on Amazon last month for $25, but the storefront seems to be out of stock with plans to get more any time soon. Goal Zero's own website lists them as unavailable. however, they can still be found for online purchase if you know where to look

Also Highly Recommended. $25 online.   Availability might be an issue for some and the price too much for others, but if you need a plug and don't want to carry a dozen or so cords, this is the one to get.

Happy recharging!

Obligatory FTC Disclaimer: I bought this with my own money. Go away. 

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