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.
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.
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.