Charging Mobile Devices

Is it invariably true that the most simple of things tend to require the most complex of solution? That seems to be the case in my life anyway. I don't own hoardes of gadgets, really just a Phone (Samsung Omnia) and a Zune, but I would like to be able to charge them when I'm away from home. Ideally with the same charger and ideally with a separate "travelling" charger so I can leave the "static" charges plugged in at home (but switched off - I'm much more aware of this type of waste than I used to be).

This should not be difficult but in my experience, even now we've pretty much standardised on USB as a means of connectivity and charging, things conspire to ensure it is difficult. My experience with Smartphones for example is that they will not charge unless they either have an ActiveSync connection (or at least are connected to a machine with a suitable driver) or you buy a special cable that somehow frigs the phone into thinking all is well and it should charge for you. This is incredibly frustrating.

Then my Zune, which doesn't seem to have the "you must use my charger" requirement, but does seem to suck so much current that every travel charger I've bought just keels over at the very thought of pumping out 1.0+A.

iGo EverywherePower 3500 with DualPower Charger (UK, includes iPod, iPhone & miniUSB Connectors) | eXpansys Code: 118661So I've decided to invest in one of these - an iGo Everywhere charger for which you can purchase different tips to charge different devices. This particular model seems to be on the way out and it's not that easy to get iGo tips in the UK (though Expansys seem to sell most of them). I hope I'm not buying into obsolescence!

At the moment I have on order a generic USB tip and I'll get the Zune tip as well. Surely if they sell a Zune tip the thing must be capable of charging my Zune? I'll cry if it doesn't, I really will.

Anyway, while researching the above solution, I stumbled on what might be an equally good (in some ways better) solution - to use my laptop power supply. Genius. I have the Lenovo Slim AC/DC combo adapter for which you can also purchase power tips for various mobile phones and a generic USB tip. Problem. Not only are crazy prices quoted for these tips at most suppliers in the UK, nobody seems to have them or know when or if they'll get any more. The Lenovo UK website shows them in packs of 10 - handy if I had 9 friends with the same laptop and the same idea - but you can't actually order anything from the Lenovo UK website in any case. Again simple = complex.

If the iGo works out I'll be a very happy man (though if anyone knows where I can get a generic USB power tip for the Lenovo adapter, please let me know).

Comments (6)
  1. brian says:

    The first time I flew cross-country with a laptop, my friends assured me that I’d be able to find a charger in a store at the airport.  I went with the iGo, after negotiating a non-gouging price–it helps to be at an airport near a mall.  Since then, I’ve seen the little power bar around my house, but the specialized tips are probably lost someplace in the far reaches and corners of my apartment.  

    I haven’t looked at iGo devices recently, but do they now offer any better means to keep up with all of the adapters, even if you’re not using them?

  2. Peter Ibbotson says:

    The phone bit is down to Windows switching off the power to save power as the USB device isn’t recognised (I have a feeling there is a registry setting somewhere to fix this which I used once when messing around debugging a USB board).

    The special cables just don’t have data connections as fair as I know.

  3. MikeO [MSFT] says:


    Do you mean Windows on the device or the "host"? I also see the problem trying to charge from, for example, a USB port in the car. The only way I can get this to work is with a special cable. I assume there’s some pin configuration that the mains charger (and the "special" cable) has that override’s the device’s "don’t charge" logic.


  4. MikeO [MSFT] says:

    I’ll have to wait and see Brian – it still hasn’t arrived yet 🙁 Mike

  5. It’s the tradition in my wife’s family that you send around a gift list for Christmas and birthdays to

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