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Car Gizmos

Keep your laptop running on the road Add to ...

The summer may come to an end sooner than we’d like, which could mean squeezing in an extra road trip or two before the leaves start changing colour. Charging a laptop on a long drive is possible with these three gizmos, and you’re able to charge other devices at the same time.

Kensington Wall/Auto/Air Notebook Power Adapter with USB port

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$137.99

Available at: TigerDirect.ca

As its title suggests, this adapter is able to charge varying Windows PC laptops at home, on the road and in the air. The extra USB port on the side adds the ability to charge a mobile device as well.

All in all, it’s a straightforward package, and there are plenty of charging tips that come with it corresponding with many of the different PCs out there. Still, seeing this many tips just lends more credence to the idea that manufacturers should decide on one charging tip to streamline stuff like this.

While the USB port can be used to charge a tablet, it’s not advisable to charge one and a laptop in the car at the same time because of the way the adapter distributes power. Despite appreciating the relative versatility this offers, it’s tough to justify paying the premium for it.

Innergie 90W Auto/Air Adapter mCube Mini

$69.99

Available at: London Drugs, TigerDirect.ca

The mCube Mini can almost win on its own merits simply by how small the unit is. Its smaller footprint makes it really easy to store in the car, if you only plan to use it on long drives. Road warriors who travel a lot for work will appreciate the ability to use this on a plane and then apply it just as easily in a rental car.

Innergie’s adapter proved capable and dependable, so performance is consistently stable. The extra USB port comes in handy for charging mobile devices, and you can use it to charge a tablet, but a laptop usually hogs the power flow when plugged in.

Like Kensington’s adapter, Innergie’s won’t work with Macs because Apple hasn’t licensed out its proprietary MagSafe connector. But at half the size and weight, with the same PC tips and at about half the price of Kensington’s unit, this is a good buy.

Scosche inVERT

$44.99

Available at: Assorted independent 12V dealers

The inVERT is the most universal out of the box because it has an AC power outlet to go with its one USB port. As an inverter, it runs at a constant 100 watts, but it can crank out 120W at its peak. Like the other two units here, it also has surge and temperature protection, so you don’t get any nasty battery surprises while driving.

The problem with bringing a laptop’s original charger is the weight and bulk they tend to bring with them. The cable is long enough, and the thick brick transformers can be annoying, too. Throw in a smartphone and a tablet, and things get crowded around that charger.

The one amp USB port is standard, like the others, and charging mobile devices through it is easy enough. One advantage of having the AC outlet is that you can use a tablet’s original charger, which works perfectly here.

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