Which Car Gadget Charger Should You Buy?

When it comes to car-based USB chargers, you don't just want something that will keep your phone running. Instead, you should be looking at models that supply extra power to keep your passengers entertained on those long drives. Here are three of the best.

USB car chargers plug into the cigarette lighter to power your gadgets — they're especially useful if you use your smartphone to play music through the car stereo, or perhaps run satellite navigation software. (Remember, the driver isn't supposed to touch their phone while behind the wheel, so it's worth investing in a smartphone cradle which attaches to the windscreen or dashboard.)

If your old car charger struggles to top up your new smartphone then it might be time to upgrade to a new charger which delivers at least 2 amps rather than 1 amp. Many tablets also demand more than one amp.

While you're at it it's worth thinking about everyone else in the car, especially with the school holidays coming up. These two car chargers feature multiple USB ports, catering to passengers who have brought a smartphone, tablet, eBook reader or handheld game console along for the ride.

Belkin Road Rockstar: 4-Port Passenger Car Charger ($59.95)

Catering to a full car, Belkin's charger offers two USB ports in the front as well as a two-port USB hub in the back, it's on the end of a 1.8-metre cable, with a clip to attach it to a back seat pocket. Each rear USB port delivers 2.4 amps but unfortunately the front two USB ports share 2.4 amps — which will struggle to charge two high-end smartphones simultaneously.

Kensington Powerbolt 5.2 Dual Car Charger ($29.95)

The Kensington only offers two USB ports in the front seat, but each delivers 2.6 amps for charging high-end smartphones or tablets — perfect if both people in the front need to charge power-hungry devices. You could combine it with a short USB extension cable for times when someone in the back needs power.

The Belkin is a handy option for families looking to entertain the troops in the backseat, as long as the two people in the front are prepared to share 2.4 amps — which means they might need to take turns charging devices. If the driver and their co-pilot both need at least 2 amps then the Kensington is a better choice.

A note on laptops

An in-car power inverter turns the cigarette lighter into an AC power point so you can plug in your notebook or any other device which demands a wall socket. Inverters are rated according to how many Watts they deliver, ignore the "peak" and judge it by the "continuous" rating. Check your notebook's power supply to see how many Watts it wants.

Disagree with our choices? Let us know which car charger you use in the comments.

This article originally appeared in Digital Life, The Sydney Morning Herald's home for everything technology. Follow Digital Life on Facebook and Twitter.


    I have the Belkin Road Rockstar. Amazing being an Uber Driver.

    One caveat I would add is to buy any charging devices locally as the cheap overseas ones have not passed Aus certification. Those few dollars you save are false economy when the el cheapo one nearly catches fire (as it did in my case).

    Last edited 01/07/16 12:58 pm

      This is good advice however I've had expensive belkin ones blow up as well
      And bought crappy chinese ones from reputable retailers

    Aukey CC-S1 4.8A Dual Port USB Car Charger - Black
    I have bought two for our cars now, and they are brilliant. Charges my iPhone 6 Plus up to 100% whilst it is being used for both TomTom GPS navigation and streaming audio over bluetooth.
    Combine it with an Aukey magnetic air vent mount - and you have a great, no fuss combination for keeping your phone fully charged & mounted where it is easily accessible.
    Well played Aukey - well played.

    I would go for one with quick charge. Recently got a Tronsmart quickcharge for the home and it has been amazingly quick!

    Don't think any car has been manufactured with a "cigarette lighter" for many years. They are 12V power outlets.

    I like my Anker 4 port (https://www.anker.com/products/A2312011). They don't ship to Australia, but I got mine from the Anker shop on Aliexpress (http://www.aliexpress.com/store/1710553) although the 4 port doesn't seem to be available currently :(

    Disappointed there is no information on charge time examples.

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