IST SideWinder cell phone charger
This crank-driven emergency cell phone charger seems like the ideal choice for a chatter who's stranded on, say, a deserted country road and needs to squeeze a call out of a dead handset. But while we got sore fingers from furiously cranking the ($25), overall we couldn't get enough of a charge to even place a call for more than a few minutes.
The compact, lightweight SideWinder (2.3 by 1.8 by 1.5 inches, 2.2 ounces) comes in a translucent blue plastic shell, which is curved slightly for a better fit in your palm. On the right side of the SideWinder is a small crank that folds into the casing when it's not in use. On top are a small power port and a white LED that provides 5 minutes of illumination after cranking--great for dark environments. The charger also comes with a small lanyard and a vinyl carrying case.
Setup is relatively simple: Just plug one end of the included cable into the IST power port, then attach the other end to your handset's AC input. Adapters for most Nokia, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, Audiovox, Kyocera, and Samsung phones are included, but you should check exact compatibility with your phone before buying. Next, you extend the small plastic handle and begin cranking at about two revolutions per second. After 2 minutes of cranking, you're supposed to get about 6 minutes of talk time and 30 minutes of standby time.
Unfortunately, the IST SideWinder won't work on a completely dead battery. We attached the charger to a drainedand cranked diligently for about 2 minutes. The crank was a bit stiff, and our fingers began to get sore at about the 1-minute mark. We then hit the Moto's power button; the handset powered up fine but died as soon as we started dialing. We then cranked for another 2 minutes, during which our fingers begged for mercy, and the SideWinder grew noticeably hot--again, no dice.
The IST SideWinder performed marginally better with a battery that had a few seconds of juice left. We tested it with theand got about 3 minutes of power after 2 minutes of cranking. Still, it was barely enough time to make a decent emergency call. We would have kept cranking until we got a decent charge, but frankly, our arms were rubber after the fruitless 5-minute workout.