Ever found yourself out in the boondocks somewhere lacking an electrical outlet but needing to make an important call and knowing you barely had the power to do so? Not a good situation.
Innovative Solutions and Technologies' SideWinder charger is a nifty little hand-crank gadget you can use to charge your phone anytime and anywhere--without a wall socket. The gizmo's not brand new, but you could say it's one small step toward energy independence: You get about six minutes of talk time for two minutes of manual winding, according to Montana-based IST. The SideWinder also has a small LED light for extra illumination. The product works with most cell phone models and is small, light and low-cost, retailing for about $25.
The SideWinder has generally gotten positive marks. The CNET product team, but found the device hard to crank. Take note: It won't work on a completely dead battery. Still, it's a nice gizmo for squeezing out some extra talk time in a pinch.