Tips for the Road Warrior

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The promise seemed so alluring: Dump my many chargers and wander the world with one power brick, enjoying a newfound lightness of being. The iGo everywhere delivers on the first half but not entirely on the second.

The iGo everywhere is a compact replacement for chargers that power portable devices, including cellphones, palm computers, and digital cameras–but not notebook PCs. For those, you'd need to step up to more powerful versions of the iGo chargers; laptop-capable models start at about twice the price of the everywhere, which lists for $40.

That $40 buys a neat, pocket-size charger that can plug into a wall or car socket, with a retractable cord for attaching to a wide array of devices. But, and here's the rub, tips to connect the charger to a phone or handheld PC or camera cost an additional $10 or $15 each. The costs quickly add up.

And those tips are what rob me of full contentment. It seems they'd be so easy to lose or misplace, particularly in my haphazard packing while escaping hotel rooms. Maybe over time I'll gain confidence in keeping them together, in their convenient carrying case, but for now, I feel as if maybe I should bring along the original, bulky chargers as backup. Or maybe the iGo is my backup. Even with the cost of multiple tips, it's a cheap one compared with replacement chargers.

This tips issue isn't iGo's fault. The issue won't go away until electronics makers figure out a way to make money on gadgets themselves rather than on charging us outrageous sums for proprietary power cords. Then again, if devices would work with each other's chargers, we wouldn't need iGo.