Hands up everyone who has an iPod or another MP3 player, a mobile phone, digital camera and maybe a portable games console such as the PSP or Nintendo DS.
OK, now keep your hands up if you carry two or three of these around with you pretty much all the time. So far so good, plenty of hands in the air we are guessing. But put your hand down if you don’t carry the required battery charger and/or mains power supply for each one. Ah, not many fingers grabbing at the sky now are there?
That’s the problem with everything getting smaller, we all want to carry loads of gadgets around with us but they quickly become useless if the juice runs out. And the juice runs out all too soon, especially if you’ve forgotten to keep your iPod or mobile on charge overnight.
If only there was an equally small device that could plug into any of your gadgets and recharge their batteries on the move, that could power them up as you go, and that could do so a number of times on the one charge of its own.
Which is where the ReCharge4 comes in. The "4" refers to the number of times it will recharge your iPod or mobile phone or digital camera or games console. Well, in theory anyway, the actual number of total charges you will enjoy depends on the exact device being recharged. However, we managed to fully recharge a Motorola Razr mobile phone and an iPod video 80GB the promised four times, twice each to be precise. The Panasonic Lumix FZ30 digital camera managed three charges, the same as our PSP. To say we were blown away by this performance is an understatement, our appreciation was almost sexual to be frank.
By way of a proper real world test we decided to take the ultimate risk and take a long weekend trip away with just a fully powered up ReCharge4 to keep our gadgets alive for the duration.
Leaving on the Friday afternoon, returning on the Monday morning, we managed to keep two mobile phones, a digital camera, iPod and PSP running whenever we needed them. All without a bag full of heavy PSU bricks adding to the already measly cabin baggage weight allowance.
The thought of having the luxury of this little beauty in our pocket for a long haul transatlantic flight is truly exciting. Sure you might be able to charge your device via USB from your laptop, but what use is that when the lappy battery goes dead, which it will do more quickly as you are charging a peripheral with it.
But even if your need was just to keep gameplay going during a long train commute, or to power up your iPod with iTrip attached while driving from London to Aberdeen, you will not be disappointed.
OK, down to the nitty gritty. The ReCharge4 is small at just 84 x 40 x 23mm and weighs 120g. The iPod version that we tested looks good in shiny black or white, and has the distinct advantage (despite the ten quid price penalty) of coming complete with a full set of mobile phone connectors by default. You can buy separate adaptors for your mobile, PSP/digital camera and Nintendo DS/GBA but they cost a few quid each so if you have more than the one mobile the extra cost soon becomes a saving.
The device itself is truly plug and play, plug it in charge it up and then play. Press a small button and a series of green LEDs light up to show the amount of battery power left to use, and which go down surprisingly slowly it has to be said. There’s also a small power supply no bigger than a plug with a special connector on the end of the cable, which can be used to recharge your ReCharge4 at the same time as it charges your devices. Oh, and a built in safety feature prevents the ReCharge4 from overcharging which is cool.
About the only thing that can go wrong, as far as we can see, is that you forget to keep the ReCharge4 fully charged. It held its charge very well during our testing, but it will of course run flat if left for many months without a top up.
An absolutely essential buy for the mobile gadget fan, a hardware killer app no less. How much did we like it? We bought two with our own money, Nuff said!