This is one of those products that occasionally comes along that is so useful, so smartly designed that it makes me smile.  It is also so easy to recommend to anyone who may need what it can do, and that includes just about any traveler as well as so many others.  Keep reading, won’t you?

So, what is this must-have product?  I call it a cordless inverter.  The manufacturer calls it by two names – Duracell Powersource Mobile 100 and the identical Xantrex XPower Powersource Mobile 100.  Both are manufactured by Xantrex, but few of you know that name, while everyone recognizes the Duracell brand.  Pricing info is below.

What’s an inverter?  This is a device usually associated with automotive use.  For example, a “box” plugs into your vehicle’s 12-volt power outlet.  On that box would typically be found one or more standard AC outlets.  You’d use the inverter to provide plain old 110-volt power to charge and power laptops, mobile phones, portable games (such as Sony PSP and Nintendo DS), iPods and other audio players or to provide electricity for a small TV or DVD player or other low power requirement products.  That standard AC power outlet allows us to use our standard plug-in products and their chargers without any special adapters. All of our products that require a battery to be charged come with these plug-in chargers, so all we need to do is plug in as usual.

A cordless inverter, as I call it this product, does the same job, and then some.  This Xantrex-manufactured product has an internal Lithium-Ion battery that can do the charging and powering on the go while away from home, the office or the car.  Sound interesting?  And since it’s rechargeable, you can cycle it over and over and over again, hundreds of times.  It can re-charge in a wall outlet as well as in a car, with an added bonus using the latter method.  Plugged into vehicle power, the unit can simultaneously recharge its internal battery AND provide pass-through power to whatever is plugged into it.

But wait, there’s more!  Ideal for frequent travelers, this product also comes with an airline adapter.  Many commercial aircraft have power outlets at the passenger seats. Some use a standard 12-volt plug while others use a special airline adapter.  No worries.  Just use the supplied airline adapter.

Hold on for more!  In addition to all of the above, the product also features two USB outlets, useful for charging any and all devices that charge using USB connectivity, such as iPods and a growing list of mobile phones, for example.

What a smart design!  It has the advantages of an inverter plus the benefits of being cordless.  NO adapters are needed, unlike other products I’ve seen.

Performance has been wholly satisfactory. I’ve topped off laptops, charged mobile phones and portable GPS devices, powered and charged my PSP and Nintendo DS Lite.  I’ve charged my iPods, too.  It has charged aboard my American Airlines flights and allowed coast-to-coast uninterrupted laptop use.

Sealed inside is a 4 AH (Amp Hour) battery.  The whole thing weighs just a pound.  Oh, I could give you all the specs, but I do not think it matters.  What matters is that it works.

What won’t it do?  It won’t run your dead computer for very long from its internal battery.  Figure you’ll get about one half hour out of it in this case.  However, it will add up to two hours of juice to the run time of your charged laptop.  It will fully charge and then some everything from Blackberries to portable game systems.  Plug in anything that draws up to a maximum of 65 watts (sustained) to run on the internal battery.

If it’s also plugged into a vehicle using the DC power cord, it will provide up to 85 watts of sustained power.  Not so, as indicated above, if plugged in to wall power.  The reason has to do with the different ways DC from your car and AC power from your wall outlet at home work.  I’ll leave it at that.

Best of all, these handy devices are very reasonably priced for the job they do.  Again, the only difference is branding.  Both come with a one-year warranty. They’ll pay for themselves by all the times they’ll step up to do what they do, again and again and again.

As cool as this is, and it IS cool, be careful to avoid unrealistic expectations.  It’s only a 4 AH battery inside a small paperback book-size lightweight shell.  It is designed to fully charge a low capacity item and to add significantly to higher drain products, such as laptop computers.  In other words, don’t expect beyond what it is, beyond what is described here.

The Duracell-branded product typically sells at online retailers for about $105-$130, while the Xantrex-branded product can be found in the range of $55 – $130.  Google the whole names in quotes and you’ll see what I found, though prices may vary due to the fact that you will be checking prices after my query.

Unlike devices with internal batteries of a different technology, the Lithium-ion battery inside this one should be able to hold a full charge while sitting idle (switched off, of course) for months.

Even at or near the full price, the advantages and convenience of this product suggest you’re going to love it as I do.

Congratulations to Xantrex for this excellent product and for their hooking up with the trusted Duracell brand to promote it through familiar channels.

Finally, a note about Xantrex:  I’ve known this company for many years. Now that you have had this introduction, check them out for their other useful products, including heavier duty inverters, and numerous useful battery backup products.  I’ve successfully used their products for years and years.  They are useful at home or in the office when the power goes out and you may need to power a small light or two for a while.  Some also have the added convenience of including plug-in vehicle battery jumper cables.  The only difficulty I’ve had is remembering that I have a portable battery jumper when I needed it   By the way, the car started right away.  This group of Xantrex products uses tried and true gel-cell battery technology that should last for five or more years.  The company also provides uninterruptable power supplies similar to those from familiar names including APC and Tripp Lite.  Check them out while learning more about their Mobile 100.

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