Backup power helps in gadget emergencies

April 18, 2007: 7:56 AM ET

I usually remember to charge my phone. Plugging it into the charging cord beside the bed is one of my essential daily gadget routines, along with recharging the laptop for the day's commute. But occasionally a late night or some other anomaly will derail my ritual, and I'll start the day with a weak charge on my Palm (PALM) Treo 700p.

Those are frantic days when I'm forced to play a game of chicken with my Treo's battery meter, hoping there's enough juice to make that call, view those websites or scan those e-mails before the power runs too low.

For just such emergencies, Mobility Electronics offers the iGo powerXtender ($26, including one tip adapter sold separately). It uses two AA batteries (included – good thinking, Mobility Electronics) to keep your gadgets running for a few extra hours. It competes in a category with Energizer's Energi To Go products.

Operation is simple. The main body of the iGo powerXtender is a battery compartment connected to a nub that allows it to plug into dozens of devices. To connect it to another device, however, you'll need one of several adapter tips Mobility Electronics sells; some of the most popular include one that fits Apple's (AAPL) iPod nano, one fits several Research in Motion (RIMM) Blackberry devices, and one that fits Motorola (MOT) phones including the RAZR. Attaching the tip to the body of the powerXtender is no problem.

I got a tip for the Palm 700p, attached it to the body and plugged it into the phone. Once I turned the powerXtender on, it dutifully began charging my Treo.

I have no complaints about the operation of the device; it works as it should, charging devices about as quickly as a wall adapter would. My only quibbles are with the physical feel of the device (it seems the tip could break if the powerXtender were stored with the tip plugged in, which is how most folks would want to keep it), and with the expense and hassle of buying tips – Mobility Electronics might consider offering a discounted value pack that includes a few of the most popular tips plus one of your choosing. (If it were to offer such a bundle, a convenient little carrying case would be nice, too.)

As a rule, these power adapters are not as perfectly convenient as we wish they were; we really want something that will automatically plug into any of our gadgets and give them an instant jolt of extra power, bringing them back to life fully charged.

Until such a miracle device arrives, iGo's powerXtender will be a neat device to keep in your bag. You know, for emergencies.

To Buy:

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