As Spring turns to Summer and the weather starts to brighten and warm, we approach a time to be out and about enjoying nature, getting some sun on the skin and perhaps some sand between the toes.
With the advent of fantastic mobile technology, there is no need for even the nerdiest of us to be locked away with our screens during the fine weather. Instead we can bring our gadgets along with us and they can contribute to our enjoyment of the world.
Smartphones and tablets are great for keeping us entertained on long journeys (or the inevitable traffic-jams when everyone hits the beach on the same day!), they can help navigate new locations and present local information like places to stay and things to do when we get there. They can even take photos and high-definition video to record a few treasured memories of the trip (not forgetting to share a few shots to Facebook so the folks back in the office can see you're at the seaside!).
There is only one problem with this, a few videos and a bit of navigation and your smartphone will likely be flat-as-a-pancake by lunchtime. In order to get through the day, you'll start to use it as sparingly as possible and if you're camping and really away from it all, perhaps all the clever data shenanigans will be switched off, simply because you may need it in an emergency.
Wouldn't it be great if you could use your smartphone all day without worrying about it whilst you holiday?
There will be people out there who are smugly noting that they can simply swap to a spare battery, but most of us have phones where this isn't an option. For those, I would recommend the ExPower battery.
Designed to clip to your bag or belt-clip, this rugged external battery has enough juice on board to be able to charge a typical smartphone at least twice, giving you days away from that wall socket or genuine all day intensive use. Not only that, but it has a solar panel onboard, which will trickle charge the onboard battery using nature's energy and help keep things topped up to full as you travel.
There are many different choices available for these external batteries (I have been using this from Veho for a while now), but I recommend the ExPower for those who plan a bit of camping or hiking. Its tough plastic construction, water resistance and the ability to charge two devices simultaneously could come in very handy as part of your rucksack cargo. It even has a small LED torch function, which may be good enough to reduce your need to carry multiple gadgets.
Available in a choice of colours, the ExPower looks like it's built to last. Round the outside edge, there is a black rubber bezel which should help take the energy out of drop-impacts and the rest of the case is made out of a solid plastic. There are two cut-outs in the rubber and behind some plugs you'll find the two full sized USB sockets and one micro-USB. Keeping these plugs sealed tight should keep the water out and allow you to hook the ExPower to the outside of your bag to get the best out of the solar panel that dominates the front. Just above the solar-panel, there are four small LED lights. The left hand one will light green when solar-charging and the four will light blue to show how much charge is remaining when switched on and in use. Also included is a lead for USB based phones and the old-style iPhone.
I've been using the ExPower daily during a trip to the Isles of Scilly and it's stood up to a few drops, a lot of sand and kept my Nexus 4 going all day, in spite of Google Maps and a compass app being used a lot for navigation. It's even got enough punch to add charge to an iPad (not all batteries have this ability), which rescued a couple of games of Monopoly when there were just a few percent left.
For holidays, gadget fans should definitely consider an ExPower battery. Mine will have a permanent place on the rucksack from now on.
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