Though we've seen some amazing cell phones at CNET, one of the most useful phone-related products that we've ever reviewed is the Callpod Chargepod. Yes, it is just a charger, but what a charger it is. Not only does it charge up to six devices at once, but it also saves weight in your suitcase when traveling. Indeed, we've taken the Chargepod on several trips where we've used it to power our cell phone, camera, and MP3 player.
Of course, to use the Chargepod you will need a power source. And since you're not always near one, Callpod offers a companion product called the Callpod Fueltank. Like the Tekkeon TekCharge MP1800, the Fueltank is an external battery that can charge multiple gadgets. It's easy to use and portable, and it works just as intended. You can get it for $69.95.
The Fueltank measures 3.4 inches tall by 4.9 inches wide by 0.72 inch deep and weighs 7.3 ounces. Though we were expecting something heavier, we're pleased at just how compact and portable it is. It won't fit in a pocket, but it will slip easily into a bag or suitcase. The silver cover doesn't call attention to itself, and it has a sturdy feel, even with the plastic shell.
At one end you'll find the miniUSB port for the power cable and a button for checking the Fueltank's power meter. On the other end are the twin ports for the charging connectors. The only other feature is the battery meter on the top.
It takes a respectable 2.5 hours to power the Fueltank using the included AC adapter. Like with the Chargpod, the Fueltank's AC adapter is a bit big, but it fits in the included carrying pouch. You also can use a car charger and the ChargePod to power the Fueltank, but both items are sold separately. An indicator light will let you know the charging status.
We tested the Fueltank with an iPhone 3G, a Motorola i576, and a Creative Zen Vision MP3 player. With all three devices, the charging process began as soon as we connected them to the Fueltank. Over time, the devices charged fully in about the same amount of time as a normal charger. Also, the Fueltank delivered a comparable amount of battery life. Just note that the Fueltank can charge only two devices at a time.
The Fueltank comes with one adapter with a miniUSB connector. Additional adapters are available from Callpod for $9.95 each, and can be used for a wide array of devices including cell phones and smartphones, MP3 players and iPods, digital cameras, GPS units, digital readers, Bluetooth headsets, and portable gaming systems. Check out Callpod's Web site for a full list. You will run up a pricey bill if you intend to use the Fueltank with a lot of devices, but we reckon that it's just about worth it. Yet, it would be nice if Chargepod offered the Fueltank at a bundled price.