On the Go With iGo Power Solutions

Over the prior few years I have spent more than half of my time on the road – at trade shows, business meetings, and vacation travel. And being the gadget geek that I am, I always carry around lots of tech toys, including a cell phone or two, a Nintendo DS Lite, a notebook computer, a camera or two, my Sony Reader, and my iPod.

As anyone who travels with lots of gadgets know, you generally need a separate charger for each device, which makes for a lot of extra bulk in one’s carry-on luggage (I don’t know about you, but I would never check vital chargers in my checked luggage).

About four years ago in a Brookstone’s at the Philadelphia airport I came across something called the iGo Juice70 – a universal power supply which came with a variety of laptop charger “tips” and the ability to also charge a second smaller piece of electronics at the same time as powering the notebook computer. I bought it and was immensely pleased with my purchase. I later found that they offered a three-way splitter for powering the smaller gadgets and got that too, allowing me to charge my notebook, cell phone, iPod, and DS Lite all at the same time. Wow. Plus I can use my Juice on airplanes where there’s seat outlet power in the form of a 12VDC car charger plug.

My first Juice adapter burned out about 18 months ago, which was a disappointment, but I bought a new one immediately at the Radio Shack near my Texas office and it has worked great, all over the world.

My only frustration would be (and still is) that I frequently get newer gadgets than they have power tips for, and thus have to wait a few months for them to have compatible tips for my gadgets. And I still have to carry separate chargers for the diverse camera batteries I use as I can’t usually schedule myself to use the in-camera charge for this. But that is not a problem iGo can easily solve themselves.

The biggest overall drawback I have found so far has been the price of the tips ($9.99 for each new one) and the power adapters (the Juice70 is $129.99), and I wish I could get a short 3-inch cord to connect the gadgets to the power adapter plug instead of the bulky “cord savers” iGo presently sells, as with all my gadgets, having three sets of cord savers takes up a lot of space. A tip organizer would be nice too.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in January, I met with iGo’s marketing folks who showed me a smaller, sleeker version of the Juice power adapter (can’t wait for that to be readily available), and something called the iGo powerXtender (see photo above) – a dual AA battery powered charger which uses all the same iGo power tips I already use for my gadgets.

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iGo sent me an evaluation unit of the powerXtender, and I have managed to put it to use a number of times when I had forgotten to recharge certain devices overnight. Most recently it was my Blackberry on Bonaire, as well as my kids Nintendo DS Lites during a long trip from New Mexico to San Juan (while the whole family was playing Uno wirelessly on four DS Lites). The powerXtender lasted for about a half-dozen charges. It doesn’t fully charge the device it’s working with (at least not in my tests), but does provide emergency power, which is what iGo promotes the powerXtender for.

For $15.99 the iGo powerXtender is a great deal for existing iGo product users, because you will likely already have all the power tips you need. For people new to the iGo product line you need to be aware that new tips are $9.99 each, so if you have several gadgets this can get costly quickly, which might be an argument to just jump in with both feet and also get the Juice70 or similar portable power adapter too.

I give the iGo Juice70 a 7.5 and the iGo powerXtender an 8.0 out of 10.0 on The Richter Scale based on my prolonged use of these devices and the drawbacks mentioned above.