Cables and chargers go big and long

Gear that can help you recharge your devices in better locations

Collage of cables and chargers
At a Glance
  • Syncwire iPhone Charger, Lightning to USB Cable - 6.5ft - White

    View
    on Amazon
  • Ventev ultra long Tangle Free - Charge sync Cable (USB to Lightning) 6 feet long

    View
    on Amazon
  • Ventev Dashport Charger for Smartphones

    View
    on Amazon
  • PowerLine PowerCup 200/400 Watt Mobile Inverter with USB Power Port 90309

    $30.33 MSRP $39.99
    View
    on Amazon
  • Syncwire Micro USB Cable [2-Pack 6.5ft]

    View
    on Amazon
  • Ventev Wall Charger for Multiple Phone Models

    View
    on Amazon

As my family acquires more gadgets and devices that require recharging, I find myself experiencing a lot more drama when one of their devices goes dead and needs to be plugged in. This turns into a battle of “cable swapping”, in which one family member removes a cable from a device being recharged and plugs it into their own device, with the hope that family member #2 doesn’t notice the swap. Buying more cable chargers can help, but then the issue becomes the availability and location of power outlets.

Nowhere is this more evident than in our vehicle (a 7-year-old minivan with a recharger port only in the front), which requires a bunch of different power recharging options for occupants in the van. The driver and passenger have priority, of course, as we utilize charging for our smartphones for GPS and music streaming purposes. It's good to be the parents.

Next up are the two seats behind us - these two kids are usually on either their iPhones or iPods (basically an old phone with the phone service turned off). They can usually recharge their devices with the help of a portable charger, but they often quickly drain those devices as well. Sometimes they can borrow the power recharging from one of us in the front, but it’s a temporary fix at best. The poor kid who gets stuck in the third row is pretty much out of luck once they run out of power on their devices and/or portable battery recharger.

Why bring this up? Because I’ve found some possible solutions, and have been testing them out.

SyncWire Apple Lightning cable SyncWire

First up is cable length. Two companies have sent me their longest charging cables - six feet plus, to be more specific. From Syncwire comes the Data Sync & Charge Cable (pictured above, $9.99), designed for the iPod, iPhone and iPad. It’s 6.6-feet long (2m for metric followers) which should help extend battery charging from the front seat back to that third-row end user. The cable I used had no other special properties (such as Kevlar coating, etc.), it did look like it was made from the same material as the Lightning cable you get from Apple. I’m a bit worried that the ends will fray at some point, but we’ll cross that road when we come to it. A second 6-foot cable came from Ventev, which sent me a Chargesync tangle-free USB cable with Lightning connector ($20.27).

Ventev ChargeSync cable Ventev

This particular Ventev ChargeSync cable can extend up to 6 feet.

The cable on this one was flatter than the Syncwire one, which lends to its “tangle-free” nature, as it’s tougher to tangle a flat cable than a rounded one.

The next step was figuring out some options for the front part of the car. Ventev also sent me one of their Dashport (model r2240, $17.22) units,

Ventev Dashport Ventev

It may look like a cigar, but it's a dual-USB port charger that fits in your car's cigarette lighter adapter.

a dual-output universal charger that works with a vehicle’s power adapter (old folks will call that the cigarette lighter adapter port). In one vehicle we already have two adapters which suits most of our needs, but our second car only has one port. In this case, having two USB ports is very helpful, as we can charge more devices. The dashport has a 5V output, able to charge two devices with 2.4A each at the same time (so basically, two iPads or two iPhones or a mix of each). The USB ports are also illuminated, so you can connect in the dark if you need to.

PowerLine PowerCup charger PowerLine

It's not a coffee cup, it's a recharger!

I still needed to get the charging cables further back than from the front of the car, where the power outlets are located. I still own (and love) the PowerLine PowerCup ($28.67), which uses the vehicle adapter port to provide one USB power output, but two traditional power outlets (like those you’d have in your home on the wall). This allowed me to extend the power a bit further back in the car, but even more importantly, provide additional gadgets that I could connect. For example, I could now connect the Syncwire 4-port Quick Charger ($28.55), which provides four USB output ports (two at 1A and two at 2.4A), and then plug in the longer 6-foot cables into that, which gave me enough length to reach the back of the car for child #3.

If you wanted to extend this even more, you plug the first charger into the cigarette adapter port, then plug a 6-foot USB cable (such as the Syncwire Micro USB Data Cable, $10.99)

SyncWire Micro USB cables SyncWire

SyncWire Micro USB cables

into the extra USB port on that device. On the other end, plug it into one of your battery recharger’s input port - the one you usually recharge via Micro-USB (in my case, I used the Jackery Giant+ dual-USB portable battery charger, $23.99).

Jackery Giant+ battery charger Jackery

Jackery Giant+ battery charger

Then you have an additional one or two USB output ports, to which you can attach an additional 6-foot Lightning cable. This would give you more than 12 feet of distance from the vehicle’s charging port at the front to the device you’re looking to recharge, and you’d also have the benefit of recharging a battery recharger as well.

Of course, you’ll also have a very large tangle of wires to manage, and you’ll have to warn your kids not to step on any of these devices when the get in and out of the car. So be careful.

Beyond the car scenario, these cables and chargers can help in other situations as well. When I travel, for example, I’m usually at the mercy of power outlets in hotel rooms that are located far beyond the area where I want to put my smartphone or tablet (usually on the end table near the bed). I usually end up trying to move the table or bed to find a free outlet, but often I’m recharging the device far away from the optimal location. Again, these six-foot cables and additional-port chargers can help in that situation, as long as you’re willing to add these to your travel bags.

Ventev Wall Charger Ventev

If you need to charge six devices from one power outlet, you need the Ventev Wall Charger seen here.

If you have a ton of charging needs, then you can go even bigger. Ventev also sent me their USB Charging Hub (model rq600, $38.99), which features six USB charging ports. One of those is a dedicated Qualcomm Quick Charge port, with the remaining five offering 2.4A of power each. Unlike the Syncwire Quick Charger, which plugs directly into a wall outlet, the Ventev Charging Hub has a dedicated power outlet cable, which extends it from the wall outlet (or power strip) to give you extra room to place this on a table or desk.

These products aren’t limited to traveling in cars or staying in hotel rooms. You can also use these at home and the office if you’re looking to recharge in one place while using an outlet that’s in another (or if you want to extend the number of devices that recharge at the same time). These devices and options should solve most of your recharging and cable needs. If you still have issues, I’m sure Ventev and Syncwire and a ton of other companies are thinking up other possibilities as we speak.

To comment on this article and other Network World content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter stream.
At a Glance
  • Syncwire iPhone Charger, Lightning to USB Cable - 6.5ft - White

    View
    on Amazon
  • Ventev ultra long Tangle Free - Charge sync Cable (USB to Lightning) 6 feet long

    View
    on Amazon
  • Ventev Dashport Charger for Smartphones

    View
    on Amazon
  • PowerLine PowerCup 200/400 Watt Mobile Inverter with USB Power Port 90309

    $30.33 MSRP $39.99
    View
    on Amazon
  • Syncwire Micro USB Cable [2-Pack 6.5ft]

    View
    on Amazon
  • Ventev Wall Charger for Multiple Phone Models

    View
    on Amazon
Must read: Hidden Cause of Slow Internet and how to fix it
Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.