Charge It!

One of the most confounding aspects of our gadget-loving society is managing the chargers that keep our gadgets running. We need to charge our mobile phones, our music players, our Bluetooth earpieces and our cameras.

If your house is like mine, there’s a counter in the kitchen where each outlet holds a charger. I have an organizer to keep the cords under control and the gadgets in the same place, but that doesn’t decrease the need for outlets. And there is an energy drain called “vampire energy” or “vampire draw,” a reference to the power wasted by leaving chargers plugged in when they are not being used.

I’ve been testing a universal charging device that elegantly solves both problems—outlet clutter and vampire draw. It’s called the Idapt i4, and it sells for $60 at The device can charge four gadgets at once through a single outlet. The best part: You can just turn the Idapt i4 off when it’s not needed.

The Idapt i4 ships with six charging tips so it can handle most of the gadgets you own, such as an Apple iThing—iPad, iPhone or iPod—a camera, a portable game player such as a Nintendo DS or a number of other common gadgets. The charging tips can be rearranged and placed into the Idapt as needed.

Additional charging tips can be purchased for $10, and I suggest you buy an extra micro-USB tip. Why? Because if there’s a positive trend developing in gadget land, it’s that the micro-USB charger is becoming the standard on mobile devices made by everyone except Apple, which remains loyal to its proprietary 30-pin connector.

I’ve been able to charge 90 percent of the gadgets I’ve reviewed with the same micro-USB charger, including a handful of Bluetooth earpieces, a new BlackBerry and Android-based smart phones from four different phone makers.

The bottom line: You can save a few bucks on your monthly electric bill and relegate the kitchen counter for what it was intended for—preparing late-night snacks.