It's early May, spring has sprung and it's time to think about dragging the tent out of the loft for another run of squelching in the mud and trying to stay cheerful in the midst of our nation's interminable weather.
For some of us, it's the lure of the festival that drags us away from our comfy homes and TV screens, while for others it's just an affordable holiday option in these miserable times, but whatever reason you have for embracing the outdoors life, there's always one minor problem. Can you go cold techie for a few days without your PMP, handheld games console, digital camera and smartphone? Do you charge all your batteries and hope for the best? Or do you find some way of recharging your devices so you can enjoy rural life or festival action without losing touch with the modern world any more than desired?
If the latter sounds good to you, then Philips Power 2 Go SCE7640 rechargeable power pack is one way you can go. Inside the compact plastic casing rests a Lithium-Polymer battery, rated at 1000mAh with a 19v output, or 3600mAh with a USB standard 5.6v output. You charge it at home and then it charges your devices while you're away. What could be simpler than that?
Of course, a rechargeable power pack makes no sense if it's a burden in your backpack, but the SCE7640 has been designed to be as portable as possible. At just over 280g in weight it's a bit heavier than, say, your average digital camera, but not painfully so, and its dimensions - 12cm by 8cm by 2.5cm thick - don't make it prohibitively huge. It's hard for a device so simple and practical to be attractive, but the SCE7640 gives it a shot, with a glossy white base and sides and an equally glossy black top. Bar the stamped-in Philips logo, the only things of any real interest are the sockets at the front, and a button and a four-bar LED indicator at the top.
The sockets are, unsurprisingly, very simple. To the right, there's a 5.6v USB output. To the left, there's a 19v DC Input and a 16 to 19v DC output. The input takes charge from a 19v, 3.16A outboard PSU, which takes somewhere between 3 and 4 hours to charge the pack. While it's charging, the four LED indicators light up one by one, all beaming continuously once the pack is fully charged. Once unplugged, you can check the charge level at any time by pressing the small, square button next to the indicators. The more bars, the more power you have left.
The key thing with a product like this is the device support. After all, if it doesn't work with your particular line-up of devices, then it's really no good to you. Luckily, Philips has most of the major bases covered. A nifty slimline retractable cables hooks up to the USB output at one end and one of a range of connector tips at the other.
A mini USB tip covers a large proportion of digital cameras, MP3 players, PMPs and the Sony PSP just on its own, but other bundled tips cover Motorola, Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson mobile phones. Other devices that derive power from USB, meanwhile, can be charged by connecting the USB output to the connection cable originally provided with them. Connector tip holders are provided to keep this little lot in some sort of order, along with a travel bag so you can keep them all together.