Slideshow

In Pictures: 11 offbeat battery chargers - Portable power with a twist

There's no need for a portable phone charger to be boring -- here are 11 chargers for your smartphone (or tablet) that are both useful and creative.

  • If you carry a smartphone or a tablet around with you (and if you're reading this, you probably do), you know that there's a good chance you're going to run out of power before it's time for bed. There are, of course, a whole slew of chargers to choose from that can get you through the day. (See our slideshow 12 portable battery chargers add life to your devices.) But some situations call for a more creative approach to charging your device on the go. So why not try something a bit more imaginative? From fire pots to bicycle dynamos, we've found 11 unusual battery chargers that will give your phone a boost -- and also give you something to tell your friends about.

  • Tigra BikeCharge If you do a lot of cycling, you may want to check out the BikeCharge, which lets you charge your device with the power of your pedals. This portable battery charger comes in three parts: the Dynamo ($119.99), which attaches to your bike's wheel; the Power Converter ($29.99), which coverts the kinetic energy into usable power; and the 2,600 mAh Power Pack ($59.99). The system starts working when you are traveling at least 5 km/h (about 3 mph) and maxes out at 20 km/h (about 12 mph). It will charge most smartphones after a 2-to-3-hour ride. And if you don't need to power your phone, the Dynamo also acts as a bike light for night riding.

  • Horizon MiniPak There are chargers you can crank, chargers powered by the sun, and even a charger that works off kinetic energy. And now Horizon has figured out a way to harness hydrogen to charge your phone. The MiniPak works with Horizon's Hydrostik, a fuel cell that contains a metal alloy that absorbs hydrogen from water, using a separate Hydrofill system ($299). The Hydrostik fits inside the MiniPak, the charger then creates power by combining hydrogen from the fuel cell with oxygen from the air. The MiniPak, which measures 4.5 x 2.7 x 1.1 in. and weighs 7.4 oz., includes a flashlight adapter, five adapter tips and a refillable cartridge.

  • PowerPot When your parents told you not to play with fire, they didn't realize you were going to need it to charge your wireless devices. This portable battery charger does double duty as a camping stove and charger. The PowerPot uses thermoelectrics -- the temperature difference between the fire on the outside and the water on the inside -- to produce power. Just fill it with water (or any liquid) and place it over a heat source -- within a few seconds the PowerPot is outputting 5 watts of power, or about the same amount as a wall socket. After 20 minutes of charging, your phone should have 2 hours of talk time.

  • Everpurse Clutch It's a wallet! It's a phone charger! Actually, it's both. The Everpurse clutch is a small Saffiano leather purse that has a little insert inside for an iPhone 5/5s/5c or a Samsung Galaxy S3/4 (the company also says it will have an insert for an iPhone 6). It charges your phone using its 4,200 mAh battery -- when you get home, you re-power the purse by just dropping it on the included charging mat. The clutch has a sleeve inside for credit cards or cash, and enough extra space for keys, cosmetics and business cards. It measures 9.5 x 6.75 x 1.25 in., includes a removable wrist strap and cross-body strap, and comes in black, gold and blue.

  • JunoJumpr A portable battery charger that only charges your portable device? How 2013. Today's portable battery chargers can do so much more. Take the JunoJumpr -- it can charge your phone and jump-start your car. Now that's convenient. The JunoJumpr comes with 6,000 mAh of power and can also produce a 12-volt output at a peak of 300 amps, which is enough to give your car or motorcycle a boost. For a device that is 5.5 x 3.0 x 0.6 in. and 7 oz., that's not bad.

  • Smartphone Charging Emergency Lantern If you thought a lantern was only good for providing light, think again. This lantern from Hammacher Schlemmer can also charge your portable device. The Smartphone Charging Emergency Lantern has the ability to charge a smartphone twice when it is fully charged. When not being used as a smartphone charger, it provides up to 48 hours of light on low power, six on high power, and also has three red LEDs that act as emergency beacons. And that hand crank on the top? Crank it for one minute to produce enough power for the lantern to shine for ten. Feeling lazy? Just recharge it via USB.

  • Nokia wireless charging pillow by Fatboy After a long, busy day, we all need a rest, and the concept behind Nokia's portable charging pillow is that our phones do, too. This is a Qi-enabled wireless charger; as long as your phone is Qi-enabled as well, you can just lay it down in the center of this comfy pillow and let it charge. The pillow, which measures 7.4 x 5.5 x 1.2 in. and weighs 4 oz., comes in black, red, cyan, white or yellow.

  • ChargeKey Lightning cable or micro USB cable The NomadKey doesn't hold its own charge, but it can be handy to have around in a pinch when you need some power. The key-sized charging cable has a USB connector on one end and a micro USB or Apple Lightning tip on the other end. All you have to do is plug one end into a USB power source and the other into your phone or tablet. Because the NomadKey is literally key-sized, it fits on your keychain so that you are never without it. It is also bendable, if needed, and will sync your phone with your computer while it charges.

  • Revi Charger Some folks regularly use up their phone batteries halfway through the day and need to carry around a large (and heavy) portable charger with a lot of capacity. But for others, a little boost may be enough. Meet the Revi charger. The credit-card-sized device, which is available with either an Apple Lightning or a micro USB connector, comes in two capacities. The 550 mAh charger weighs a mere 1 oz. and measures 3.3 x 2 x 0.01 in.; the 1,440 mAh Revi weighs 1.7 oz. and measures 3.3 x 2 x 0.28 in. Just pop it in your wallet and you're good to go.

  • Devotec Fuel Micro-USB Charger Measuring only 1.3 x 0.9 x 0.6 in, this tiny charger (which resembles a miniscule gas can) is as portable as it gets. Barely larger than a quarter, the Micro Charger has a capacity of 230 mAh, giving your phone an additional 20-30 minutes of talk time. Not a lot -- but sometimes, that's all you need. The top of the charger has an on/off switch and three LEDs that let you know if it is charging, fully charged or powered on. The micro USB option is available now; an Apple Lightning version is coming later this year.

  • Power Bank with Built-In Stand We all know the usefulness of wired dock stands that prop your phone up for easy visibility while it's charging -- so why don't we ever see that in a portable charger? Well, look again: That is where the Power Bank with a built-in stand comes in. This charger packs 6,000 mAh of power, measures 3.5 x 3.3 x 1.2 in. and weighs 6.7 oz. It also has an insert in the front that conveniently fits almost all smartphones and most tablets, including iPads and Samsung Galaxy Tabs.

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