How much money do you want to spend? Only one of the devices we review costs more than$100. The rest average between $40 and $70, and budget shoppers can find a great portable USB charger for about $25. Some chargers might need additional accessories, and these add to the cost.
How many devices will you charge at once? Plenty of options are available for charging a single device. It helps to know how many devices you intend to charge and whether you will charge them all at once.
Are all your devices compatible with the charger? If not, are adapters available to connect your device to the charger? Again, additional adapters drive up the cost.
How much power will you need? Many portable USB chargers store enough power to charge a typical phone or small USB device. Even when they don't, they can boost battery life enough to allow the device to operate a little longer. Power-guzzlers like iPads demand too much juice for most portable chargers. Since desktop and inductive charging mats directly connect to AC power, having enough power is never an issue.
Where will do most of your charging? If you plan to travel and need to keep your devices charged, a portable USB charger is a great tool. It's also important to take note of the device's design and durability. The obvious choice for desktop use is a charger built specifically for that purpose, but an inductive charging mat combines an uncluttered desk with a futuristic appearance.
USB chargers fall within a relatively inexpensive price range, from less than $25 to $110. Most portable USB chargers are straightforward devices that come with minimal components. Desktop chargers or inductive USB charging mats may require additional components to make them compatible with your particular device. Manufacturers and vendors offer all sorts of incentives to make USB charging affordable, from bundled packages to rebates and adapter vouchers. All of these chargers are widely available.
Green energy solutions can be a good thing, and USB chargers are no exception. Up-and-coming within this category are solar USB chargers. Although plenty of good solar chargers are on the market, they have a ways to go before they can compete with grid-powered devices. Their primary drawbacks are long charging times and cloudy days. Other charging devices include those powered by propane, boiling water and people, as they move or ride about. High-tech inductive charging may be the most futuristic technology, yet its future is uncertain. Inductive charging mats are not making much of an impression among consumers.