Every new device you buy seems to come with its own charging brick and cable -- which is good, until you have a drawer full of them in your office, or wind up having to pack a dozen of the things before you so much as go to the library with your laptop. Thankfully, most of them are interchangeable and even if they're not, it's easy to trade a handful of cables for a single charger instead. Here's how.
Image: Paul Downey.
Carry One Micro-USB To USB Charging Cable/Brick Pair
If your devices -- like most new gadgets these days -- charge via micro-USB, grab one micro-USB to USB cable, ditch the brick entirely and pack your laptop and laptop charger. Leave the bricks and additional cables behind and that way you can charge your device from a free USB port, rather than a wall plug. If you're staying home, toss the extra bricks and cables into a box and stick with only as many cable/brick pairs as you need.
If you don't want to use a USB port just to charge (or you're like me and have a Macbook Pro with only two USB ports) and want to bring your charging brick anyway, only bring one and make sure it's the type that allows you to plug your micro-USB to USB cable into the brick itself. That way you can use the brick with any gadget that charges via USB, even if the connector on the other end isn't micro-USB.
The only thing to keep in mind is that not all USB ports and connectors are made equal -- if you're plugged into your computer or a wall brick, it shouldn't make a difference (although lower-power chargers may charge slower than higher-rated ones) but it's worth keeping an eye on especially if you plan to charge a higher-capacity device like a tablet.
Image: Joe Hackman.
Upgrade The Cable For Something Better
Instead of, or perhaps in addition to a brick like the Belkin one, a portable charging pack and array of tips for different devices can provide another charging option. The Energizer XP1000K Power Kit can charge several different devices from its included rechargeable battery, or directly through the power kit while the battery charges. The kit is available at Amazon for $US20 and a higher capacity model, the XP2000K, is also available for $US37. An even beefier model, capable of charging laptops as well as tablets and smartphones, can be had for $US138.
All models come with an array of tips for charging different devices and ultimately allow you to leave your myriad charging bricks and cables at home entirely. As long as you have one outlet and only need to charge one device at a time, you won't need anything else. Admittedly, if you need to charge multiple devices at once or you want a quick charge, this may not be the best option for you, but if you have a single laptop, a digital camera and a smartphone, you'll likely be OK.
Energizer obviously isn't the only company that makes these types of rechargeable power packs, but I have experience with these models and have found them reliable. Even if you don't want to ditch all of your chargers, you'll have no trouble ditching several of them for a power pack.
One of the easiest ways to declutter your home office or travel lightly is to get rid of the half-dozen charging cables and bricks that take up so much space in our bags and desk drawers. If you're tired of wrangling USB cables and charging bricks, pare down to the essentials, grab a portable surge protector and stash a power pack in your bag. You'll never be without power and you'll always have enough to go around.