Rumble: My Life in Four Bags #4: Cables

There is some stuff each globetrotter would like to leave home:

Part #4: Power supplies and connecting cables.

They take up most of the space in my computer bag. Why does each device come with its own power supply, each having its own voltage, and connector? I have one for my laptop, my GPS, my iPod, my digital camera, my digital video camera and my mobile phone.
Plus a computer connector cable for each too. Except for the video camera. Which comes with three cables. Plus one cable for my Palmpilot. Oh, and of course 12 volt cigarette lighter adapter cables for my mobile phone, iPod and GPS too. Pfft.
It is time for a digital revolution favouring the frequent traveler: one adapter cable and one power supply for all.



Anonymous,  22 May, 2007 09:15  

I'm finding more gadgets have a USB power option.

Ryan Lackey 22 May, 2007 11:22  

USB has really solved a lot of the power plug hell for me. Pretty much every device I have runs off USB plugs at 5V, although sometimes at current levels in excess of the USB spec -- I even made custom adapters for my electric hair trimmers.

Given a choice between a phone which can be charged from USB and one which requires an AC adapter, it's an easy choice.

I have some devices (laptop, satphones, satellite radios) which need higher voltages, but at least all of those have IEC320 plugs and are 100-240v 50/60hz.

Peter 22 May, 2007 12:20  

Tom and Ryan:
you are absolutely right. When I buy more stuff, I will look for the USB power options! Good tip for other travellers too!

At the moment only my iPOD has it. I guess I use the gadgets until they give up on me, so most of my stuff is really old.. My digital camera is from the year 2000. My PalmPilot -for one of the next blogposts- is from 1996 or 1997, believe it or not!...


Ryan Lackey 23 May, 2007 08:43  

The only issue with USB-charging is that you might need an external powered USB hub to get full power to your devices. Many laptops, even if they have multiple ports, can't provide full current on their USB or serial ports -- especially with multiple devices plugged in.

Luckily, USB hubs are $10, and you can find some with really small AC adapters.

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