What is the best universal charger to reduce cable clutter, esp while travelling?
August 24, 2009 2:26 PM   Subscribe

What is the best universal charger to reduce cable clutter, esp while travelling?

Equipment that I need charged:
1. Macbook Pro
2. Nikon D70 battery
3. NiMh batteries for flash unit etc
4. Canon camcorder
5. iPhone
6. Scansnap scanner - portable
7. sony ericsson phone

posted by shalam to Technology (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Where is this stuff, and you, from? The US?
posted by mdonley at 2:44 PM on August 24, 2009

My brother, who travels frequently, uses iGo, a charger with interchangeable ends for the cord for different devices. That will cover at least the phones. Possibly the camcorder and scanner.

But you aren't going to find one charger that will do everything on your list. Specifically, the MacBook chargers use a proprietary MagSafe connector that is covered by patents (unreasonable IMO) and I'm not aware of any universal type adapter for them. Fastmac does make a universal battery charger but that seems to be designed only to charge a battery outside of a laptop while running on a second battery, which would seem to add to your clutter, not reduce it.

The D70 battery will also be a problem. And the NiMH batteries. If you can reduce the things you need when traveling it'll be easier.
posted by 6550 at 2:50 PM on August 24, 2009 [2 favorites]

@mdonley: stuff and me - both in the US. although i do travel to countries where 220V is what you get (As opposed to 110 in the US). having mentioned 220V, most of these gadgets work on 100-240V range - except my AA NiMH charger...

@6550: agreed with your thoughts on "if you can reduce the things ..." :). camera and camcorder are the ones that i can give up. but then these are the things which lead to memorable outputs. scanner perhaps. but i use scanning as a way to reduce paper clutter.
posted by shalam at 3:52 PM on August 24, 2009

Since you have an iPhone, you could use JotNot to let it's camera act as a scanner. I use it a few times a week, but not on full page documents. However, I just tested it on a full page document and the result is definitely readable. A lot will probably depend on the lighting, the steadiness of your hand, and how flat / smooth the paper you're scanning is.

Also, since you have the iPhone, why bring an additional video camera?

Do you need two phones? Could you forward one phone number to the other so that they both ring on the same phone for the duration of your trip?

Are you a professional photographer? If not, get a smaller, lighter camera. Or, alternatively, just use your iPhone as a camera. Since you can upload images wirelessly, you've effectively got unlimited storage and unless you're going to be printing your photos, there's really no need for more mega pixels. Yes, the lack of zoom is a factor, but you've effectively got infinite zoom if you just run towards your subject.... ;)

I have found the iGo system to be really really clunky. It works, but I've never actually been able to use it on a plane. I wouldn't buy it again.

Some cameras have add-ons that you can purchase to allow charging by connecting directly to the wall or whatnot. Perhaps you can find one that will charge your camera's battery.

Is this travel for work? How long are your trips? What do you use the computer for? Perhaps you can skip bringing even the computer. But at the very least, the iPhone can replace 3 (camera, scanner, video camera) of the devices you lug around.

For my recent trip overseas, I brought my iPhone, a Belkin dual-USB charger, a radioshack voltage converter, and a camera batter charger for my wife's camera. Due to the long plane trip, I also got a USB battery pack. ; It was all pretty sweet and compact.
posted by reddot at 4:14 PM on August 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

@reddot: good idea. i have the 3G iphone, will need 3GS for video and for decent photos. that said, your questions are all very valid. two phones i need because roaming is not much of an option. i can perhaps still drop one phone.

camera - i will stop carrying as soon as i can have better resolution on the iphone, when i upgrade that is. ditto for video camera. and for scanner - i think scan quality will become better once i have the 3MP camera on the 3GS.

this particular trip that i did was with family, to visit family overseas. but my other trips are work related - got to carry the laptop - everything else can perhaps stay back.

at least iGo is not a great option - i suspected also whether i will have the patience to change charging tips all the time...
posted by shalam at 9:04 PM on August 24, 2009

If you're not doing so already, consider packing a standard extension cord with multiple outlets at the female end. Since hotels and airports are so stingy with outlets, this allows you to charge multiple devices simultaneously. It won't reduce cable clutter, but will move it out from behind the bed/desk/nightstand where you can manage it more conveniently.
posted by dinger at 6:52 AM on August 25, 2009

If you're not doing so already, consider packing a standard extension cord with multiple outlets at the female end.

When I'm carrying enough electronics with me that this is an issue, I've found this travel extension strip to be the perfect blend of extra-outlets and portability.

Generally though, my strategy is to have all of my devices charge off of USB, and then I have several of the ultra-small USB chargers that Apple makes and use them as needed.

(They are designed for the iPhone, but they work for all of my USB-charging devices and can be had for next to nothing on eBay or Amazon—just make sure you get one with the green dot!)
posted by dyslexictraveler at 12:50 PM on August 25, 2009

The multi-plug appears nice and compact. I have not needed it yet because most of the devices work on 100-240V range - and I carry two local adapters instead - one for my laptop and one at a time for other devices.

Net, so far, the solution appears to be reduce stuff I carry with me. And to get a new iPhone so that can be used for scanning and photos. Good idea - now to convince my wife :)
posted by shalam at 4:00 AM on August 26, 2009

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