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Travel Chargers Features
The key features to look for in a cheap travel charger are battery capacity and compatibility. Other factors to consider are the ease of charging the charger itself, portability, and design.
Portable Charger Battery.Many cheap travel chargers have battery capacities of no more than 1,000 mAh (milliampere-hours), while most smartphones, experts note, have battery capacities between 1,300 and 1,500 mAh.
According to manufacturers' specs, the MiLi Power Crystal (starting at $26), the IOGEAR GearPower GMP1001B (starting at $15), and the IOGEAR GearPower GMP1001W6 (starting at $35) all pack storage capacities of 2,000 mAh, as does the Duracell Powerhouse USB Charger (starting at $36). Then there's the iGo Charge Anywhere PS00273-0001 (starting at $35), which comes in just below the rest of the group at 1,800 mAh; I-Up also offers an 1,800 mAh model (starting at $25). Battery manufacturer Lenmar makes a 2,400 mAh charger called the PowerPort Slim (starting at $24), but we couldn't find enough reviews to determine how well it performs.
USB Charger, Outlet Charger.A cheap travel charger will be much more likely to come through in a pinch if it can be recharged quickly and easily. This is where the I-Up 5400 and especially the iGo Charge Anywhere PS00273-0001 score big. The rest of the cheap travel chargers are USB chargers and only charge via a USB port on your computer. But the iGo Charge Anywhere PS00273-0001 and I-Up 5400 are plug-in-the-outlet chargers, so they can recharge faster and you don't have to have a computer or USB/AC adapter at hand. They can even charge a mobile device at the same time they're getting juiced. The upshot is that you can use these two cheap wall chargers not just as portable backup power but also as conventional wall chargers for all your devices. Universal chargers can run from about $40 to more than $200, so these two-in-one mobile device chargers could be well worth their relatively high, but still cheap, prices. One disadvantage to the I-Up 5400: you don't have the flexibility of recharging via USB and can only recharge its immense battery by plugging it into a wall outlet. Note that all the chargers sport indicator lights on the front to show how much battery remains. Back to top »
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Depending on the product category, cheaper generics may be just as good as the name brands. Examples include batteries and sunscreen.
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