Getting Power Smart
Ever plug your iPad into a PC’s USB port or a generic AC adapter only to find out hours later that not only isn’t it fully charged but has actually lost ground and the battery is nearly dead? The fact of the matter is that many computers and off-the-shelf USB power adapters don’t put out enough current to satisfy the pad’s thirst for electricity, leaving few alternatives other than using the AC adapter that came with the system.
Kensington’s Absolute Power 2.1 with PowerWhiz is the first universal USB charger that can work with just about any phone or tablet on the market. In fact, it is smart enough to recognize the device’s power specs needed and deliver it.
The adapter comes in black only, but like the first-generation iPad power adapter, it has a fold-out two-prong plug and a USB port on the side for powering a device; you’ll need to supply your own USB cable, though. The Kensington power cube measures 1.5-inches on a side, small enough to slip into a pocket or pocket in a bag, but larger than Apple’s OEM power adapter. That’s balanced by the adapter’s 1.7-ounce weight, which is slightly lighter than Apple’s iPad power-pack.
Kensington’s PowerWhiz technology is the key to its success with such a wide variety of hardware. The key is that the adapter has a sophisticated circuit inside that interrogates the device’s power needs and then supplies exactly what the device needs, up to a 5-volt stream at 2.1 amps, matching the maximum output of the Apple adapter. By contrast, typical generic adapters put out a peak of only 1 amp and the major reason why they fall short of being able to charge an iPad and other devices.
Over the course of several weeks, the AbsolutePower adapter was never far from my iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Lenovo S2110 or LG Nitro LG phone. It worked like a charm with each and stayed cool, even while charging a tablet’s battery. It’s not perfect because I wish it could charge two devices – say, a tablet and phone – at once. Kensington also has a 4.2 Amp AC wall adapter with two ports that can charge a pair of devices at once, but it lacks the PowerWhiz technology.
The power adapter comes with a 1-year warrant and costs $25. Unfortunately, it isn’t available at the moment, but you can preorder one that should get to you within a few weeks.
+ Can charge any phone or tablet
+ Interrogates device’s power demands
+ Light weight
+ Fold-out plug
- Bigger than OEM adapter
- Only one USB outlet