There's one group of bastards that's running about 20 years behind on the whole green initiative, enviro-friendly thing: the mobile electronics industry. Besides the fact that everything I buy is in wrapped in impenetrable plastic that's not even recyclable, every mobile phone and gadget I've ever bought in my life has needed a whole new charger kit.
A partial solution to this infuriating problem is the Callpod Chargepod, a device I've been drooling over since the first time I saw it in Wired. I got my hands on one and it performs just as advertised, reducing an unruly pile of bulky chargers down to one elegant octopus of connectors.
Here's how it works. You just plug the cord into one--yes one outlet on the wall and then attach your devices to the connectors coming out of the central hub. This hub is smaller and thinner than a hockey puck and is super-light. As you plug in each item, a blue LED comes on to tell you that your device is charging. You walk away and go about your business, coming back to a fully charged array of gadgets.
For my family's configuration, I can plug in my Sanyo mobile phone, my wife's Nokia, my iPod, her Shuffle, and a Sony PSP all at the same time. Since the Shuffle is plugged into a USB connector, figure anything else that charges that way could plug in there too. It will charge six devices at once. That's a lot of stuff, which is great news for travel: pack one little pod and the connectors in its handy carrying case and you're all set. You can even use the car adapter and charge on the go.
You have to get the right connectors for your own devices though, which brings us back to this industry of "We love proprietary stuff bound for the landfill." If you get the Chargepod Bundle Pack you should be covered for Apple/iPod, Motorola, Blackberry, Nokia, Palm Treo, and Sony PSP devices. I say should because even among one manufacturer they can't keep things simple: my wife's Nokia phone required a different Nokia adapter than the one in this pack, so $9.95 later, she's in business. I also had to buy one for my Sanyo phone, another $9.95. After you make this investment though, you're set--well until you get another device with yet another proprietary charger connection.
I'll stop ranting now because it's not Callpod's problem things are so difficult. They are making money by easing our pain and that sounds like a win-win to me.
The Callpod Chargepod lists for $50 alone or $100 in the Bundle Pack. A tad cheaper at these retailers:
Buy.com - Callpod CHPA-0002 Chargepod 6-Way Mobile Device Charging System Bundle
Callpod Chargepod Bundle from J&R