Reviews: Portable Chargers And Other Gadgets

This week we?re taking a look at small devices that make your digital life a little easier: portable chargers, a password-management device and a prepaid smartphone.

Finding a power outlet for your phone or tablet when you?re traveling is like discovering an oasis in the Sahara: You set up camp and never want to leave.

That?s particularly true for devices such as the iPhone and iPad, which don?t let you swap in a spare charged battery on the go.

But the next best thing to a replaceable battery is a portable charger. Two new ones are the Enercell 2400 milliamp portable charger for cellphones and the iSound Portable Power Max 16,000mAh charger for tablets, phones and just about anything else that charges over a USB connection.

The Enercell charger ($49) is smaller and lighter than a deck of cards and provides enough juice for as much as eight hours of additional operation of an iPod, iPhone, MP3 player or similar gadget.

The package includes connections for standard USB, mini USB, micro USB or 30-pin plugs. A status button on the charger lets you know at a glance how much power is left in the charger.

The iSound charger ($129) is a much sturdier device, granting as much as 480 hours of power for up to five USB devices.

The brick-shaped device is a bit more of a burden to carry, but it will resuscitate almost anything smaller than a laptop. It?s ideal for an iPad or that clearance-priced TouchPad you nabbed.

It also comes with mini and micro USB adapters and even has a built-in LED flashlight, perfect for finding your car keys or headphones.

?Pros: These devices are liberating for any modern road warrior.

?Cons: More gadgets to lug around in your bag.

?Bottom line: Both are must-haves for connected travelers.

MYLOK: Passwords are a pain.

But Post-It notes are not a password management system.

Instead, what you need is something like the MyLOK device from ii2P LLC in Southlake (

The MyLOK looks like a chunky USB thumb drive, and that?s basically what it is, but with a whole lot of data security built in.

The device ($79) not only stores your user names and passwords, but it automatically plugs them into the appropriate fields on the websites you visit.

Very slick.

I did have some trouble getting the MyLOK to store the login info on some sites, such as my bank, and the software for bookmarking websites and registering passwords is a bit hard to figure out at first.

But the device works as advertised.

And by alleviating the need to remember and type in every individual password you use, you can make those passwords as complex and secure as possible without locking yourself out.

You can even back up your secured data to your PC in case, heaven forbid, you lose your MyLOK.

?Pros: No more excuse for using the password ?12345? on every site.

?Cons: The password registration software takes some time to learn.

?Bottom line: Good passwords are only part of good data protection, but MyLOK makes that part much easier.

If you?re looking for a prepaid smartphone, the Motorola Triumph from Virgin Mobile ($299) is a pretty nice (and affordable) choice.

It has a 1 GHz processor, a 4.1-inch touch screen and 2 gigabytes of built-in storage. It also has a 5-megapixel camera with 720p HD video recording.

The Triumph runs Android 2.2 and has Google Maps with Navigation.

Customers can choose three plans, all with unlimited data.

The low end is $35 per month for 300 minutes. Bump it up to 1,200 minutes for $45 a month, or have unlimited talk for $55 per month.

All the plan prices include taxes and fees.

There is no contract with Virgin Mobile; just pick a plan and go. If you?d like to add more minutes or move to a cheaper plan, just make the change for the next month.

I had no complaints at all with the phone. It?s the right size, thin enough and very responsive.

Sprint provides the network for Virgin, and the voice quality was superb.

?Pros: Affordable. Full-featured.

?Cons: Not a ton of accessories yet.

?Bottom line: If you don?t want to be tied to an annual contract, the Triumph is a great choice.

Source: MCT Information Services