I still remember a time when my laptop didn't moonlight as a power station for my array of gadgets. Virtually everything seems to be powered through USB these days, but your computer only has so many ports, and it's very likely you've got something already plugged into each of them right now. It's better to offload your computer's gadget recharging duties to something more dedicated, like a wall socket or your car's cigarette lighter socket.
Griffin's PowerDuo Universal car charger and wall charger bundle does just that: take input from these sources and pump them through a USB port a pair of them, in the case of the wall charger.
The PowerDuo's two components the Power Block Dual wall charger and the PowerJolt 12V car charger are sold separately, but would cost you $10 more if purchased that way. Actually, Griffin giveth, and Griffin taketh away: the separately-sold car charger comes with an iPod connector which, if you had an iPod, would come in handy with both components. So if iPods factor into your needs, don't dismiss the option of buying the chargers individually. Finally, there's a small but informative user guide, just in case these device are somehow too complex to operate.
The PowerBlock Dual Wall Charger
This black monolith features a pair of upward-retracting blades for your AC wall socket, a status light and a pair of USB power ports. The retracting feature of the blades is a nice touch, making the block fit smoothly in your go bag without potentially piercing the fabric. Unfortunately, "status light" is sort of a misnomer for this LED. Unlike the status light on the car charger, this one only indicates that the PowerBlock's ready to charge. You'll have to check the device being charged for its current status.
On the plus side, unlike the car charger, the PowerBlock can charge up to two devices simultaneously. One design touch I especially like is the location of the USB ports when the PowerBlock is plugged in: at the bottom. This means that the USB cables hang vertically rather than horizontally, which would create undue strain on wires.
The PowerJolt 12V Car Charger
I've been using a Belkin car charger that's twice the size of Griffin's, for some reason, so I'm naturally pleased to see the smaller design. Snap it in your cigarette lighter, plug in your USB cable, and you're ready to go. As implied above, the LED on this charger, which is a ring around the port, changes color when the device is charged. Another feature is has that the PowerBlock lack (or at least I couldn't find a mention of it in the documentation) is a replacable fuse for surge protection.
If I had in iPod (well, an iPod that I actually used), I'd probably kick down the extra $10 and buy these chargers separately. Otherwise, these are a couple of easy-to-use, well built components in one convenient package. If you need more powered USB outlets than your laptop supplies, here's your solution. You can get the Griffin PowerDuo Universal here for $34.95.
Could not be easier to use
Bundle is $10 less than chargers purchase separately
Wall charger ports vertically mounted for less strain on cables
|Light on features for the price
Lacks iPod connector included with standalone car charger
Wall charger LED does not change when device is fully charged