Small Change, Powerful Difference

THIS MAY SEEM like a silly thing to write about but charging my devices has been a real pain in the proverbial for a while. Like everyone else, I started off with the charger and cable that came in the box – why wouldn’t you? The damn things are “free”.

But over time, the cable gets munted, and you end up with a generic one. Or you find yourself using other chargers. The end result can be less than satisfying.

WDF-TronsmartIn my case, it became pretty crap. I’ve been traveling for two years, living out of a suitcase and juggling a bunch of devices. Luckily, except for my ancient iPod Classic, almost everything I own uses a MicroUSB connector for charging. Even the battery case on my iPhone is MicroUSB, so most of the time, I only have one standard to deal with across my phone, Bluetooth speaker, Kindle Fire and Bluetooth earphones.

But I have three cheap and generic USB chargers and a handful of throwaway aftermarket cables picked up from markets and stores all around the planet. Some cables don’t like a particular charger and vice versa. Some of the cables also need to be jiggled and held a certain way to start charging my phone. Sometimes, I plug something in to charge only to come back hours later and find that nothing has happened.

Humbug! I eventually got frustrated enough to buy a dedicated MicroUSB charger with attached cable from a local Thai electronics store, but despite being a “Smart Charger”, it was a total piece of rubbish. Left connected overnight, it still couldn’t charge my phone and the case.

So I bit the bullet and ordered some decent gear from Amazon and had a family member bring it over from the USA. Damn what a difference!

I know that when it comes to charging a device, a cable is a cable is a cable. But it isn’t! More modern devices support faster charging protocols but even when they don’t, the skinny cable attached to the Thai “Smart Charger” doesn’t stack up well next to the thick reinforced 20AWG cables in the six pack of Tronsmart USB cables I bought for US$11. Even plugged into one of my generic chargers, they charge much faster than the cheap-ass cables I was using, and they connect first time every time. Frustration level now equals zero thanks very much.

I also bought a 54W five port fast charger from the same company. At US$22, it’s not a cheapie, and it’s a bit of a chunky beast – not something you plug straight into a wall, it’s actually a desktop unit about the size of a cigarette pack. With four 2.4A ports, it works like a bomb! There’s one Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 Technology port, which my phone doesn’t support but even if the phone and other devices aren’t slurping up every iota of the extra juice, they sure do charge faster than they did before.

I used to plug in the Bose or the Kindle (big batteries compared to the phone) and wait many hours to get a full charge. Now I plug them in and get a green light in about a fifth of the time – very handy indeed given how much I use those things. The phone and battery case are charged at huge speed as well. Best of all, I can charge everything at once from one socket, which is useful when I’m on the road and dealing with limited power outlets.

We’re currently in Krabi, and the power in this neck of the woods isn’t exactly stable. I’ve seen locals commenting about getting 170 volts instead of 220+, and there are surges and failures aplenty. So the less time I have to have things plugged in, the better, especially overnight.

In short, I’m a convert. Dropping $50 on a charger and some cables might seem insane but I’m totally chuffed with this purchase. Bloody good value for money as far as I’m concerned, given how easy dealing with these devices has become.

Oh and I bought my lady a pack of decent 24AWG cables to go with her genuine Apple charger. She hasn’t said anything about her iPhone charging faster but the cables work each and every time, which wasn’t the case with her generic cables. So it’s been a win all round.

If you’re charging slowly, or not at all, it might be worth buying a decent set of charging accessories. You won’t regret it. ASHLEY KRAMER

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