Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve found yourself in a shared dorm of a hostel in some random country with only one or two electrical sockets to serve everyone? It can be a nightmare especially with everyone now having multiple electronic devices they need to charge:
- camera batteries
- mobile phones
- portable hair straighteners (yup! I’ve seen it!)
Well before I left for Greece, I thought back to all the things that have annoyed me on previous trips and this one came out tops so I decided to take some evasive action and come up with a simpler solution… My goal was simple, to be able to charge all of my electrical devices (5 in total), from one socket, without having to carry around multiple chargers, power adapters or multi-way plugs. And to put a cherry on the top, I decided I’d like to have some kind of surge protection so that all my electronics don’t go pop in the night and render themselves useless.
Sound easy? Not really… every ‘solution’ I thought of or came across turned out to be too bulky or otherwise infringe on my objectives listed above. I did some trial and error and eventually came to a solution after around a month of deliberation…
So, first off I decided I’d need to make my devices as universally chargeable as possible (sharing the same lead or connection), this alone was hard work which required some research.
I currently have with me the following electronic devices that need charging on a regular basis, all of which I consider ‘essential’ items for the professional travel writer:
- My laptop (Asus EEE PC 1215n - Lightweight, Powerful, rugged)
- My digital camera (Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3, waterproof, rugged, reliable beast)
- My iPod (iPod nano 4th edition – Everyone’s got to have music!)
- My portable speaker (Kinvo ZX100 – Loud little speaker which last hours!)
- My mobile phone (Samsung B2100, Quad-band waterproof badboy)
I figured that most acceptable way would be to charge them all through USB, and as my laptop had 3 USB ports I could charge most of them through that. Unfortunately, after some experimentation I found that the more devices you attached to the laptop the slower everything charged and it was taking nearly 12 hours to fully charge everything and my laptop had to be on for 2 of the 3 USB’s to receive power (1 USB has power direct from the main charger, allowing charging in this fashion when the laptop is turned off).
This wasn’t perfect for a number of obvious reasons, but my main concern was that my laptop had to be left on for such a long period of time, reducing the life of the battery and the laptop itself. Also the ‘trickel’ type charge the devices were receiving could not be as good as full supply charge that you’d get from charging direct from the mains outlet. I also had the problem of charging my digital camera batteries that couldn’t be charged via USB, and the surge issue.
So, first thing I needed to do was take the charging away from my laptop and before the laptop converter to get maximum ‘juice’ to my devices.
So I was in need of some form of inline power adapter, which had the following specs:
- Inline charging
- Output to my laptop charger
- A couple of USB ports
- An international socket to accept my US camera battery charger
- Surge protection
- An EU style plug which is most widely used in Europe and in some places of Asia, also it’s small and compact opposed to UK style plugs.
- Lightweight, not too bulky and well built
I searched for days to find something that ticked everybox, but most came short on one or two of the above features… Then, god shined a light on me and provided me the solution to my worries: It’s called the Lindy Laptop Surge Protector with Figure 8 USB Charger and literally feels like it’s been made specifically for me!
It’s an absolutely amazing piece of kit. It has two USB chargers, the third charging point I can take from my laptop even when the powers off (though unlikely I ever need to charge all at once), a universal plug on the top that I’ve used to help other people charge their gear with and it’s small enough to be strapped to my laptop charger/inverter. They have been working happily together now for quite some-time and fingers cross will continue for a few years.
I’m currently writing this will everything charging from one socket whilst still being able to do some work on my laptop at the same time…
Also, due to the fact the inline adapter & charger combo are in the middle of my power lead I can easily take to a coffee shop, sit down for an hour or so with the gadgets and charger ‘block’ in my laptop bag and get everything charged up without raising suspicion or advertising the fact I’ve got lots of expensive electronic equipment! Perfect!
So, if like me you struggle with too many leads, get pissed off at having to carry a socket-splitter or otherwise want to streamline your charging facilities, I’d highly recommend buying the Lindy Laptop Surge Protector with Figure 8 USB Charger, it’s available from Amazon.co.uk for £17.94 – a small price to pay for the hassle and weight savings you would experience with conventional chargers AND it can be shipped worldwide! Brucie Bonus!
A couple of other products you might want to try are the Monster Outlets To Go MP OTG300 LTOP 300 for Laptops 3 Outlets, 2 USB – Bubble Package and the highly acclaimed Belkin Travel Surge Protector with Hidden Swivel Plug, both I’ve tried and tested before in the past and work VERY well.
Good luck and happy charging!