Cell phone chargers may not be glamorous, but indeed, they can be indispensible when your phone loses power and you're on the go. And though a wide variety of such products exist, from the solar powered to the muscle powered, we prefer to get our emergency juice from more reliable sources. Like the Energizer Energi To Go that we reviewed last year, the Turbo Charge Tc2 portable cell phone charger from Voxred International runs on two AA batteries while sporting a simple, foolproof design. It delivers quick power to your phone and is more appealing than the Energi To Go or competing products from Tekkeon and the Planon. And unlike the emergency chargers from Cellboost, you can use the Turbo Charge multiple times. It's also reasonably priced at $24.95.
As we mentioned earlier, the Turbo Charge has a thoroughly uncomplicated design. Like the Energizer charger, it consists of just two parts: an oblong battery holder and a short power connector. The battery holder is compact (3.2x1.5x0.75 inches) and lightweight, so you can slip it into a carrying bag and forget it's there. Compared with the Energi To Go, the Turbo Charge has a sturdier construction, and the battery cover is easier to pry off. Also, we like the black, silver, and blue color scheme.
The Turbo Charge takes almost no setup time. You need only to snap in the batteries, choose your connector (more on that later), and you're all set. Unlike the Energi To Go, the Turbo Charge includes an on/off switch that allows you to kept the batteries in the charger without depleting them. It also offers a set of nifty battery indicator lights that show just how much power your batteries have left. Both features are big improvements over Energizer's product. And if you're ever lost in the dark, you can use the bright LEDs on the top of the unit as an emergency flashlight.
The TurboCharge comes with a set of eight power connectors that should fit most--but not all--cell phones on the market. The adapters include a mini-USB charger for Motorola handsets, both the large and small pin connectors for Nokia, and the older Moto adapter with two prongs. The remaining cords will accommodate a variety of Sony Ericsson, Palm Treo, RIM BlackBerry, Samsung, LG, Kyocera, and Sanyo models. While that's a decent selection, there are quite a few handsets that won't be compatible. Newer Sony Ericsson models such as the W580i are out, as are Moto handsets such as the Z6c that use a micro-USB connection, and the iPhone. We also couldn't find a connector for both the LG Venus VX8800 and the Samsung FlipShot SCH-U900 either. But considering how many different power connectors Samsung has made, the latter isn't surprising.
Fortunately, the Turbo Charge runs on regular AA batteries, so you won't have to go fishing around for lithium batteries as you would with the Energi To Go. When starting with a fresh set of batteries, the Turbo Charger will deliver anywhere from two to five hours of power (according to Voxred, the Motorola Razr V3 seems to fare the best). The exact time will vary by phone model, so you'll have to gauge that for yourself. The short charging time is intentional; Voxred says the Turbo Charge is designed not to overload your phone's battery so it cuts off automatically. That's fine with us, as after a couple of hours you should be back near an outlet anyway.
We tested the TurboCharge with the Motorola i335. We started with a completely dead phone, but the charging process started immediately after we connected our handset. During the charging cycle, the Turbo Charge's battery indicators stay lit, and will then turn off when the process is completed. In our tests, it took about an hour for the i335 to receive its maximum charge, which, from what we could tell by the phone's battery meter, was about 75 percent of its full battery life. We then got two hours and 15 minutes of talk time out of the i335. Voxred promises that each set of AA batteries will deliver as many as three complete charge cycles. You can continue to use the phone while it's charging, but it's a bit inconvenient to so with the Turbo Charge dangling from the phone.