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Hand-crank unit powers your phone

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.

Credit: IST

The SideWinder has generally gotten positive marks. The CNET product team liked its compact size and reusability, 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.