Get an intelligent USB car charger with Lightning cable for $16.99

From the Cheapskate: A must-have for every road warrior, this cigarette-lighter adapter also includes two 2.1-amp USB ports. But can you trust the user reviews?

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As I mentioned earlier this week, it's time to rethink the way we charge our mobile devices. Modern phones and tablets just can't get enough power from the average USB port -- the kind you find on most laptops, wall plugs and even car dashboards.

I've learned the car lesson the hard way, thinking my years-old no-brand cigarette-lighter USB adapter would effectively charge my iPhone 6 Plus. Not even close.

Thankfully, newer adapters provide more juice, and they're even smart enough to deliver the correct amount of current depending on what's plugged in.

Like this one: For a limited time, and while supplies last, Inateck Online has the Inateck dual-port USB intelligent car charger with built-in Lightning cable for $16.99. That's after applying coupon code ZVPMT2DW at checkout. Shipping is free for Amazon Prime subscribers.

Although the braided, nylon, MFi-certified Lightning cable is a big draw here (at least for the iDevice crowd), the charger also comes with a 4-foot Micro-USB cable. And with its two 2.1-amp USB ports, it's fully capable of powering non-Apple devices as well.

It's not clear if you can actually charge three items at the same time, but at least the plug has "over-current" protection, ostensibly to trip its own circuit in the event of over-heating.

Now, about the user reviews: There are 23 of them, all five stars. If you read closely, you'll note that at least a few say, "I received a free sample in exchange for my unbiased review."

This is not an uncommon practice. I've seen several products that came with a card in the box saying something along the lines of, "Review us on Amazon and we will refund your purchase price!" (Having not purchased the Inateck charger myself, I don't know if that's the case here. It may simply be that the company offered select users free samples in exchange for reviews, not a refund after the fact.)

Shady? More like shades of gray. Often when you see nothing but glowing, five-star reviews, you wonder if perhaps the company stuffed the ballot box, so to speak. Here, you've got some (not all) reviewers disclosing that they were given a free sample, and noting that they were asked for an unbiased rating. And then backing up those ratings with detailed, hands-on experiences. To me that seems open and fair.

That said, if you're offered a full or partial refund on something you bought, aren't you more likely to review it favorably? Food for thought.

Luckily, we're not talking about cars or computers, here. It's a USB charger, one you can get for $3 off. For me it fills a need, so I'm buying one. Because the cable is MFi-certified, and that certification costs money, I'm assuming it's a better product than the super-cheap no-brand stuff I've purchased in the past.

Your thoughts?

Bonus deal: Who says home-security and monitoring cameras have to be expensive and complicated? If you want an affordable and easy way to stream live video to your phone or tablet, check this: Groupon has the Izon View Wi-Fi video camera for $59.99 shipped. Even better, get a two-pack for $99.99. Compatible with Android and iOS, the cameras offer motion detection, night vision, cloud recording and more. Usually a single sells for $100, so this is a pretty solid deal -- even if the reviews are somewhat mixed.