Black and Decker BDPC100A power inverter
We've all been there, sitting in traffic on the M4 whilst the bored kids moan that their Nintendo DS has a flat battery or the portable DVD player is out of juice.
Side-stepping the need for a mass of bespoke 12V supplies at extortionate cost, power inverters have been the friend of campers and caravanners for yonks, meaning you're not entirely dependent on batteries whilst out in your vehicle.
Coming from the Black and Decker stable, it is no surprise to find the device finished in a silver and black livery, with orange labelling. It hasn't been over-designed or dressed to impress, and in some way that lends it an endearing charm and it will look perfectly at home stuffed into the boot of your car.
In the packaging (that you'll need some sort of power tool to get into) you get the power inverter itself, the cable with an airline adaptor, an adaptor plug to convert the aforementioned cable to a normal car 12V plug, and that's it. The cable connects to the 12V adaptor and clicks in securely, with a press release catch to separate them again.
This arrangement means the power inverter is equally at home in your car or on many aircraft, so long as your seat comes with power.
In the business end of the device you'll find a standard three-pin socket and a USB, so provides a quick solution meaning you could charge your laptop and mobile whilst driving along the motorway, for example. An LED indicates green when connected to a power source correctly. The LED glows red should there be a problem, such as low or excess voltage from the battery.
Dotted around the inverter you'll find plenty of ventilation holes, as the device does tend to get hot, so it is advised that you use it in well-ventilated areas, i.e., if you have it in a campervan, don't plug it in and throw your sleeping bag on top.
There are a range of protections built-in: low voltage, over voltage, short circuit, overload and over temperature which should keep your gadgets safe whilst you are using the device. Should there be any problem, it comes with a 2-year warranty.
It is designed to run on a standard 12V car supply, although you can't use it in positive ground systems, so if you have a vintage Land Rover you won't be able to use it (this should only affect owners of older vehicles).
In use and it thankfully does exactly what it says on the tin. Rated to 100W and 230V you should have no problems powering up most devices, but it is worth checking the power rating of the device you want to run - for example you won't be able to hook it up to a fan heater.
The inverter produces a modified sine wave, which should be fine for powering laptops, digital cameras, camcorders, phones and the like, and we had no problems powering all our gadgets whilst on the move.
VerdictThe option of a USB socket, as well as the aircraft plug means that it will appeal to travellers with gadgets, although to be truthful, it is a little bulky for most who are travelling light, weighing in at 400g.
For the convenience of being able to charge or power all your gadgets whilst on the move, it deserves a place in your car.