How to Go Completely Mobile

Charging Mobile Devices

It's easy to charge your other mobile devices with power from your laptop.
It's easy to charge your other mobile devices with power from your laptop.
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Mobile devices aren't much use when they run out of juice. No problem -- each of your mobile devices comes with a charger. It's usually a standard outlet charger that only fits that one piece of equipment. So you've got a charger for your phone, your laptop, your Game Boy, your music player and your DVD player. They all have to be plugged in for several hours to charge up, and a half-dozen chargers can get bulky. That's not a terribly mobile setup.

Luckily, there are a lot more options these days when it comes to powering up. One good space-saving option is the universal charger. This is a charger with multiple adapters, so it can charge all of your different mobile devices. Some of them can even charge several devices simultaneously, so you only need one outlet to do the job.

Another option is the USB charger. With this type, you don't even need an outlet -- the charger draws power from your computer's USB port. So if you're sitting at a coffee shop with a fully juiced laptop and a dead cell phone, you can simply use one to power the other.

But what about when your laptop is out of battery power, too? And what if there's no wall outlet at all?

The electronics industry is making big strides toward solving this issue, which is really the last remaining impediment to complete mobility within the developed world. Several different groups, including Sony and MTI Micro, are in the final stages of developing a fuel-cell charger, which generates its own power through a chemical reaction (see How Fuel Cells Work to learn about the technology). There are solar-powered and wind-powered chargers already on the market, which are less than ideal because they require particular environmental conditions, but they're still great for outdoors applications.

One last type of charger could kill two birds with one stone. The kinetic-energy charger, which uses motion to generate electricity to power your mobile device, is already available, but there are upgraded ones on the way. These newer kinetic chargers will actually create enough power to be useful as something more than a novelty. And, as a big side benefit, if they really catch on, they could solve the low-power problem and the obesity problem in one fell swoop.

For more information on mobile living and related topics, look over the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • Eddy, Nathan. "Notebook Sales Outpace Desktop Sales." eWeek. Dec. 24, 2008.
  • Melanson, Donald. "MTI Micro shows off universal fuel cell charger with removable cartridge." Dec. 11, 2008. removable-c/
  • Wireless and Landline Phones. ACA International. Jan. 15, 2007.