When you’ve been doing this job long enough, you start to develop strange interests (though some might compellingly argue that strange interests are a prerequisite). Lately for me it’s been power banks. Quite possibly the least sexy product in all of consumer electronics outside of the ever-ubiquitous dongle.
I don’t know what to tell you. Blame the fact that I’m traveling every other week for this job. There are also all of the liveblogs from years’ past that got cut off in the last few minutes as my poor ancient MacBook put itself to sleep during those last precious battery percentages. Low batteries give me anxiety. I’m the guy who’s the first to notice when your phone’s screenshot is below 10 percent.
So the power bank has become constant accessory in my life, both home and on the road. Until last year, I used to carry a massive one that was just north of 20,000mAh. The peace of mind to back pain ration seemed sensible enough, but I learned the hard way that, not only do Chinese airports have a limit on battery size, they chuck yours in the trash without a second thought if you go over. It’s a quick way to lose $150.
The good news, however, is that between USB-C, wireless charging and the magic of crowdfunding, it seems we might be living through the golden age of the power bank. I know, right? What a time to be alive.
Point is, there are a lot of choices out there. Anker and Amazon’s house brand RAVPower both offer some good options on a budget. There’s also mainstay Mophie for those who don’t mind paying a bit of a premium for design.
Fuse Chicken was actually a brand that was new to me when they hit me up to try out their latest product. It’s a name I definitely would have remembered — because, honestly, it’s pretty terrible. Memorable, but terrible. Maybe that’s why the company went with such a mundane name for what’s a really interesting charger.
My dad ones told me that he gave my sister and I boring first names because we had such an unusual surname. I have no idea if this is true, but it’s an interesting story and could well apply here.
The Universal is a good example of making the most of out a form factor. It manages to jam a lot of features in without creating a Frankenstein’s Monster worthy of the name Fuse Chicken. On its face, the product looks like a black and white version of Amazon’s default power bricks. It serves that purpose, of course, coupled with a trio of swappable international wall adapters (bonus points for travelers).
But the brick also sports a 6,700mAh battery inside, so you can continue charging gadgets while unplugged. That’s ideal for a phone — you can keep a laptop alive for a bit as well, but you’re going to burn through that pretty quickly. There’s also a wireless charging pad up top, so you can power up another phone or, say, a new set of AirPods at the same time. The side of the device features a small display showing off how much juice is left.
It’s great having a bank that’s also a plug, though like Apple’s brick, it’s much too massive to plug into many vertical outlets. I learned this lesson the hard way on a recent coast to coast flight. Thankfully, though, it’s compatible with Apple’s extension cable.
OmniCharge, meanwhile, is a company I’ve been following since their earliest Kickstarter days. Matter of fact, the aforementioned power bank that’s currently sitting in a Chinese garbage dump is one of their products. R.I.P. noble battery pack.
The Omni Mobile 12,800 mAh is a much more basic product that the company’s earliest offerings. There’s no display for power information here — instead you have to rely on four lights to let you know how much juice is left.
As with most of the company’s products, I do quite like the design language. It’s subtle and unobtrusive and fits nicely inside a backpack. It’s definitely too big for carrying around in a pocket, however. Thanks the wonders of USB it will charge a laptop, as well, though once again, you’re going to run through that 12,800 mAh pretty quickly, if you do.
The Fuse Chicken and OmniCharge run $85 and $99, respectively. They’ve both served me well as travel companions these last few weeks. Here’s to long flights and avoiding life’s landfill.
The Real Reason Betamax Lost The Format Wars
JVC officially announced the VHS-format VCR in 1976 and with two formats on the market, both sides dug in (via Sony). Mitsubishi Electric, Matsushita, Hitachi, Sharp, and Akai Electric went with JVC’s VHS format, while Toshiba, Sanyo Electric, NEC, Aiwa, and Pioneer sided with Sony’s Beta format. Sony visited Matsushita’s Osaka headquarters at the end of 1976 to try and persuade them to adopt Betamax. Sony placed one of its players next to a JVC player with both lids off, and Matsushita went with JVC’s player because they had fewer components and could be made for less money.
It wasn’t just the recording media themselves that were better; Sony’s videotape players and recorders were better because they manufactured most of them themselves. And if Sony didn’t build them, it was done by manufacturers they closely monitored, so quality was never an issue. But according to Grunge, JVC wanted to do things differently and licensed its VHS technology to any manufacturer that wanted to make its VCRs. Sony wouldn’t allow its players to be made without direct oversight. This decision ultimately helped lead to the demise of the Beta format as it fostered competition between the various companies making the VHS players and, in turn, eventually drove the prices down to a level far more affordable choice than Sony’s high-priced machines.
How To Fix Your OnePlus When It’s Charging Slowly
First, examine your phone’s USB port under a bright light from different angles. Unless you scrub the port every few months, you’ll find dirt and grime lodged into its crevices. Moisture can also harden the build-up, making it difficult to scrape off. But with the right tools and a bit of elbow grease, you can wipe all the dust and debris from your OnePlus charging port.
You’ll need a flashlight or lamp, a toothpick or a cotton bud, and a compressed air duster or bulb syringe. Experts recommend using wooden toothpicks or cotton swabs because they’re non-conductive and don’t interfere with the circuitry. Sharp metal implements like thumbtacks and safety pins can scratch and damage the fragile USB port (via Asurion). Also, avoid blowing air on the phone because your breath contains moisture, making the cleaning even trickier.
To get started, turn off your OnePlus. And use the compressed air duster or bulb syringe to clear out any loose dust and dirt. Next, gently and carefully scrape the build-up with the toothpick or cotton bud. Use a flashlight or lamp to reach the tight corners. You can also tilt the phone or give it slight taps to clear out the scrapings. Finish off with a few more bursts of compressed air. Turn your phone on and test if the slow charging is fixed.
The 10 Best Aftermarket Parts For Your Ford Bronco
For those unfamiliar with the tools of the great outdoors, a winch is a device that employs a spool, a length of cable, usually steel braided, and a hook of some kind to aid in several tasks. The most common use of a winch on a 4X4 is to help it get out of a stuck situation. Should your Bronco get mired in mud or fail to overcome a big rock, letting out the winch cable and hooking it onto something solid, like a stout tree, enables the winch to pull it to freedom.
Winches come with various levels of power and cable types and can be installed in various locations. For the purposes of an offroad Bronco, the front bumper is ideal. Not only can it get itself out of a sticky situation, but you can also help a friend by pulling them to safety. Winches can also be set to task as tools. In an emergency, for example, a winch can help to remove a fallen limb somewhere or to drag a heavy object from a body of water.
The Drive notes that winches can be electric, which is handy as the Bronco comes with auxiliary switches for accessories, or hydraulic, running off a power steering pump. Cost ranges from around $350 to $900 and some of the most popular brands are Warn and Superwinch.
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