(MoneyWatch) Keeping a smartphone (and to a lesser extent, tablet) charged up and functional while on the go is one of the greatest challenges of the 21st Century road warrior.
Yesterday I discussed ways to eke more battery life out of your iOS7 iPhone. Today I have a trio of new products that can keep the juice flowing on a variety of devices while you're traveling.
TYLT ENERGI+ Sliding Power Case. Power cases are a dime a dozen. Well, not literally, because they do tend to cost anywhere from $50 to $150 each. But the Sliding Power Case from TYLT is one of the best options around, and it's the one I've been using for several weeks now.
At the heart of the case is a 2500mAh battery, which adds about 9 hours of talk time to your phone. It makes the iPhone about .25-inches thicker, a half-inch longer, and weighs 3.3 ounces. Molded with smooth rounded edges, it still slips comfortably into your pocket.
The case comes in two parts -- a snap-on accent case that resembles many other shell-style cases, and the battery case itself. The accent case is grooved on the sides to slip easily into the mothership case. You can use the accent case separately from the battery when you want to lose the bulk.
The case still gives you full access to the headphone jack, and you can charge the phone and case via a standard mini USB cable. Available for both the iPhone 5/5s and the Samsung Galaxy S4, it will set you back $99.
TYLT ENERGI+ Power Backpack. Yes, two TYLT products in a row -- but they both heartily deserve any road warrior's attention. The $200 Power Backpack is hands-down the best implementation of the powered backpacks I've ever seen. First and foremost, it comes with a 10,400mAh battery, capable of charging your smartphone 4 times and your tablet once.
The bag is thoughtfully engineered with so many pockets and compartments you can get lost exploring them, like wandering the halls of a large mansion. You'll find 5 external and two internal pockets for routing the battery's three USB connections. You can configure the bag however you like, and there is a wealth of zippered storage areas. The bag easily holds a fairly large laptop as well as a full-size tablet in separate areas. There's a rigid, protective pocket for holding eyeglasses and phones. There's even a tiny earbud compartment on the padded shoulder strap. There are pockets for a boarding pass and passport. The bag is TSA approved, so you don't have to remove your laptop, and it even has a trolley pass-through for mounting the bag on other luggage.
Yes, it's only a backpack, but what a backpack. If it only served as a reservoir for 2 days' power needs while on the go, that would be interesting. But the thoughtful design and superb ease of use makes this perhaps the finest high-tech backpack ever made.
Braven 850 Bluetooth Speaker. Bluetooth speakers are everywhere, and for good reason: They let you listen to the music locked on your phone without piping everything through earbuds. And since Bluetooth speakers are fairly portable, people tend to take them on the road. The Braven 850 Bluetooth Speaker is the best example of a Bluetooth speaker I've yet seen. It is both a speaker and a charger. You will pay a premium for this speaker -- $279, in fact. The Braven comes with a beefy battery that delivers 20 hours of music. And thanks to the USB input, you can charge your iPhone or iPad (yes, it handles 2.1A devices just fine) while you listen to music. You get a 20 watt speaker that sounds great. And, it looks great, since it's all aluminum, not made from plastic.
Photo courtesy TYLT