Get a ChargeDr Pro USB charge booster for $19.99 shipped

Cheapskate exclusive! This newly updated magic dongle charges your smartphone and tablet much faster using an ordinary USB port.

The ChargeDr Pro charges devices faster and includes a toggle button that allows syncing.
The ChargeDr Pro charges devices faster and includes a toggle button that allows syncing. Digital Innovations

This is an update of a deal I posted earlier this year. Newer version, lower price -- what's not to like?

You know those times when you need to charge your phone or tablet in a hurry, like when you've got 20 minutes before your flight boards?

Too bad charging is such a slow process. You can't just turbocharge the flow when you need to. Or maybe you can. Digital Innovations makes a little gizmo that promises to juice up phones and tablets much faster when connected to an ordinary laptop USB port. And thanks to this Cheapskate exclusive, you can get one on the cheap(er).

Today only, score a Digital Innovations ChargeDr Pro USB charge booster for $19.99 shipped. That's after applying coupon code cdpcnet at checkout. Regular price: $29.99 plus $4.95 for shipping.

The ChargeDr Pro is a small black dongle that plugs into a USB port. Then you plug your usual sync/charge cable into the dongle. Presto: tablet charging at up to four times the usual speed and smartphone charging up to two times faster.

How is this possible? The typical laptop USB 2.0 or 3.0 port (also known as a charging downstream port, or CDP) produces 0.5A for charging, which is not a lot. An iPad wall charger, in comparison, produces 2.1A. According to Digital Innovations, the ChargeDr Pro relies on a special chip that communicates with a laptop's power-management system. It allows a CDP to "behave more like a DCP" (dedicated charging port), and therefore output more amps.

Just how well this will work depends on different factors, including the power status of the laptop, the device being charged, and the cable being used. But I can tell you that my third-gen iPad, connected to a Samsung Series 9 laptop via a standard Apple 30-pin cable, charged much faster with the ChargeDr Pro than without it. Same for my iPhone 4S. Your mileage may vary.

The first-gen ChargeDr had to be removed from the chain if you wanted to sync your device, but the Pro has a toggle button that allows syncing. (A flashing light indicates that mode; think, "Blink equals sync.")

The gizmo works with most smartphones and tablets, though the Google Nexus 7 isn't compatible owing to its "nonstandard Micro-USB charging protocol." You should also be sure to use the manufactured-supplied sync/charge cable, not third-party ones.

If you routinely rely on your laptop to charge your mobile devices, the ChargeDr Pro can definitely make the process go faster. I probably wouldn't pay $35 for one, but $20 out the door is worth considering.

Bonus deal: Game time! Years ago, I was madly obsessed with Commandos, a clever but incredibly challenging game of real-time action and strategy. If you've never had the pleasure, you can't beat this deal: Bundle Stars is offering four Commandos games (Win) for just $2.25. That gives you the original Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines and three sequels. You'll need a Steam account to activate and download the games. Highly recommended!

Bonus deal No. 2: Tablet Thursday! While we're on the subject of gaming, PC Richard & Son has a deal on what I consider one of the most underrated tablets of 2013: the Archos GamePad, on sale for $149.99 shipped. It's an Android 4.1-powered 7-inch tablet with built-in game controls. Those controls aren't great for every kind of game, but they're a huge asset for some. Read my review to learn more.

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