If you find you go camping quite a lot, then it’s more beneficial if you travel as light as possible and just take the items that you really need. A mobile phone is a certainty these days, wherever you go.
But, when you’re in the middle of nowhere and you notice your mobile phone is running a little low on battery power, what can you do? Unless you carry a mobile battery with you, which is always a good idea anyway, when it runs flat you need an alternative source of power.
Well, the folks at MobileFun kindly sent me the Wind Up Charger to review. It’s a compact, sturdy hand-winding phone charger that also doubles up as an effective LED torch too.
Inside the box you’ll find the charger itself, along with a basic two-sided manual and a small bag containing an extension cable and a multitude of connectors for various handsets. The back page of the manual shows a picture of each connector and the handset it works with, although as we like to be helpful here at The Gadgeteer, here is a quick run down of the connector types you get:
- iPod Series connector
- Nokia 2mm jack
- Nokia 3mm jack
- Micro USB
- Motorola V3 Series
- LG Series
- Samsung G600 Series
- Samsung D900 Series
- Sony Ericsson K750 Series
The back of the box details exactly which handsets work with the charger and the list is quite extensive. MobileFun do say however that the iPhone 3G and 3GS are not compatible with the Wind Up Charger.
You can see just how compact the charger is by comparing it to the connectors. It measures just 9cm x 3cm and weighs a little under 70g, so they have certainly thought about the size when designing this. It’ll fit into your rucksack or gear bag with ease and you’ll not even know it’s there!
The winding arm is tucked nicely into the casing, so when you need to charge the internal 3.6v Li battery, simply unhook the arm and crank it in either a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction.
As I mentioned, the device doubles up as a charger and as an LED torch, so if you just wanted to use it as a torch, it’s great for keeping in the glovebox of your car in case of emergencies. The manufacturer suggests that the battery requires a charging frequency of around 120rpm. However, the manual doesn’t indicate how long you need to turn the handle for a set time of light. So, I made sure the torch was switched off and then wound the handle for approximately two minutes, then left the torch switched on. It started going dim after around 30 minutes, which I think is rather good!
The light from the torch is very bright, thanks to the three bright white LED’s. It provided a direct light source which was nicely focused.
In order to charge a mobile phone, you have to connect the extension cable into the side of the charger. Pick your choice of connector and insert this onto the other end of the cable, then plug it into your handset. For the purpose of the review, I tried charging my Nokia 6300 and also my iPod Touch.
When it’s all connected, all you need to do is unhook the winding arm and start turning it, as each turn provides a small burst of power to your device. Don’t get me wrong, to charge your device fully would require around 15,000 turns of the handle (probably more) especially for devices that simply drain batteries. So, this is only useful when you need a small amount of power to make a very quick call.
As you wind the handle, you should see your device getting power from the internal battery (which gives out a 4.8v/current 100mA output), but as soon as you stop winding the bursts of power will stop. From a totally flat battery, I wound the handle for around 7 minutes (yeah, my hand was aching a little after this point) and it allowed me to switch the phone on and make a very quick call, before the battery warning signal came on again.
I also tried it in my iPod Touch when I noticed the battery was very low and although it started charging the iPod battery, even after 5 minutes of charging, the level of power had only gone up by 1%, which was probably used up in the time it took me to check the power level!
So, would I carry the Wind Up Charger around with me? Yes, I would… and I do. It’s currently sitting in my glove box and I’ve used it a couple of times already as the torch is very bright and effective.
I haven’t however used it much to charge my phone, as I think there are better (and easier) methods, but if I was camping or in an area where I simply couldn’t find an electricity supply and needed to make a call, then using the Wind Up Charger is effective enough – at least to make a quick call anyway.
Thanks to MobileFun for sending me the item to review.