Gear review: cellphone chargers that answer the call on the go

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Whether you're stranded at the Denver airport or knocking around Central Park, there are several options for charging your cellphone in a pinch. These devices, which work without a wall plug or car lighter outlet, give you instant power for a call or a full charge in an hour or so. (Times vary by device and battery strength.) Some chargers work with AA batteries. Others hold a charge in an internal lithium battery. Still others turn the sun's rays into portable power. The most dramatic difference: their sizes.


First look: The ubiquitous Turbo Charge (above) is a quick, reliable charger in a distinctive chrome shell that's a little larger than a pack of LifeSavers. It is powered by a single AA battery. The company now also offers the TC2, a double-battery version with shorter charge times and longer talk times. You can order either model with a specific connector or a bundle of 10 that will fit almost any phone.

Likes and yikes: For simplicity, it's hard to beat. You simply plug it into your cell, twist the on-off switch and you have instant power for a call or a gradual charge. It's also cheaper than comparable devices.

The 411: Available at Sharper Image, JC Penney, Office Max and others. Turbo is $19.95; two-battery TC2, $29.99;


First look: Charge 2 Go! offers products similar to Turbo's, one- and two-battery chargers that fit in the palm of your hand. The single-battery Pocket Socket has been around since 2005. Also notable in the line is the Power Station, a two-battery version (above) that works faster and is as sturdy as a piece of pipe.

Likes and yikes: As with the Turbo, you just have to decide whether a second battery is worth the extra size and expense on a device you may use only occasionally. The Power Station can charge most iPods and gaming devices. If the kids are along, this one's for you.

The 411: Pocket Socket is $24.99, Power Station is $59.95; (732) 886-1249,


First look: The OPTI-UPS is powered by small solar panels and stores the charge in a built-in lithium battery. Once it's charged up, you plug this power source into your cellphone. It works with most cellphones and can fire up MP3 players, CD players and digital cameras.

Likes and yikes: You never have to worry about replacing a AA battery. But it takes at least four hours of sunshine to charge the lithium battery. An AC adapter can speed the process, but if you had access to a wall plug, you probably wouldn't be short of battery strength to begin with. This one is pure geek bait, but campers may find it useful for gaming devices.

The 411: $69.99, (909) 869-5700,


First look: The folks at Cellboost offer a disposable attachment that gives up to an hour of talk time to cellphones or smart phones, for about five bucks. It plugs directly into your phone's charger port and requires neither a battery nor an advance charge. It is pre-charged at the factory to deliver one hour of talk time, after which you toss it.

Likes and yikes: It's tiny and inexpensive. Ease of use? Off the charts.

The 411: Available at Rite Aid, Office Depot, Brookstone and other stores, $4.99; (800) 833-1070,


First look: Motorola's puck-sized P790 needs no wires and no batteries. It comes pre-charged and connects directly to your cellphone with a pop-out mini-USB connector. It contains up to two complete charges for your phone before needing to be recharged with the AC charger (sold separately).

Likes and yikes: Another victory for simplicity and convenience. But it's compatible only with Motorola phones and accessories that have a mini-USB connector.

The 411: $49.99, (866) 289-6686,

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