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Portable power to the people

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South Africans are getting used to the idea of load-shedding, but not to the experience of it. So often we realise just too late that we haven’t charged our cell phones or other crucial devices just as the big bad blackout knocks at our doors. But at least quick and easy solutions are beginning to appear for handheld devices, such as the Motorola Portable Power P790. And it doesn’t power up only Motorolas, as ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK discovers.

I’ve got my load-shedding life half sorted out. My garage doors have a manual override, my laptop will keep me going through three out of every four load-shed hours, and my 3G cards from both operators protect me from bad planning, i.e. it is unlikely that both operators’ base stations in the area will run out of power during load-shedding.

But my laptop will last only if I keep to the basics and avoid heavyweight applications like watching DVDs in the absence of a functioning TV set. Movies chew up laptop battery life faster than an aluminium smelter chewing into Eskom’s reserves. That means the option of charging your cellphone from your laptop via USB charger is not on if you want to maximise operating time.

Enter the Motorola Portable Power P790. It’s a curvy, compact bundle of energy which you charge briefly while you have power, and keep handy for when you don’t. It is fitted with a Mini USB port, which means it is compatible with any device using a mini USB port for charging.

I was sceptical at first, until I tried it on a Blackberry Curve that had sprung a power leak after I’d used it for web surfing instead of allowing it to maintain its pre-ordained role in life as an e-mail and phone device. Within two hours the phone was fully charged, and there was enough power remaining in the P790 to charge a visiting friend’s phone.

Best of all is that the charger is so compact, you can make or answer calls while it is plugged into your phone. It doesn’t look especially elegant in that pose, but then it’s power you wanted, not prestige. And it fts quietly into a handbag or sidepouch of a laptop bag,

It also works for Bluetooth headsets, PDAs and other small devices, as long as they use that mini USB hub. Converters are also available to connect the charger to devices that use a Micro USB port.

The less the power usage of the device you charge, the more often you can recharge it without having to recharge the P790.

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