Recently I received a gift from Nomad, one each of their CHARGEKEY and CHARGECARD products. So I’ve been trying them out. They’re both similar in concept, so I’ll speak of them as one item for now.

Basically, it’s a very very portable charging lead for your phone. The CHARGEKEY is about two inches long, with a slim full USB plug1 on one end and either a micro USB or an iPhone 5 lightning plug on the other.2 And there’s a little place to attach it to your keyring. Basically, the idea here is that you’ll stick this on your keyring and the next time you find yourself somewhere where you’d want to charge your phone you’ll have a way to do so, without having to carry a long USB charging lead around everywhere you go like some sort of arse. The CHARGECARD is a similar idea, and again comes in two flavours, but instead of being a little stick that hangs unimpedingly on your keys, it’s the size and thickness of a credit card and goes in your wallet, or wherever you keep cards.3

So, the simple verdict: if you often find yourself wishing you’d brought your charging lead with you, you’ll find this bloody useful.

Me… I didn’t, so much. I often find myself wishing that I could charge my phone up, but the problem isn’t that I don’t have a lead: it’s that even if I had a lead I’d have nowhere to plug it in. Pub tables don’t have USB ports. Coffee shops don’t have USB ports. If I’m working from a desk in an office somewhere I’ve got my laptop bag, and that’s got one of every lead I ever need in it (hasn’t yours? Why hasn’t it? Go and put a spare one of every lead you need in your laptop bag!).

I do sometimes find myself places where I could charge up. Coffee shops do have wall sockets. But for that I’d need an actual lead and an adaptor. On my desk, where I am all day, I have a charging lead. Interestingly, whenever I’m at a conference there are always tweets in the backchannel asking if anyone has an iPhone charging lead — it’s never any other phone. So I suspect iPhone people who haven’t grasped the idea of having a spare lead in their bag may find this hugely useful. If you’re taking my above advice about buying a spare lead then getting one of these is no bad idea because it’s tiny.  Similarly, if places of entertainment started putting USB sockets on every table, this would be superbly useful.4

Perhaps I’m unusual, though. To find out, I gave the CHARGEKEY to my dad. And, interestingly, he’s already talking about using it at work. Just plug into the computer in the office, and the lead is on your keyring ready for you when you need it. And it’s not bothering you when you don’t. It’s for drive-by charging. For a moment of opportunity. If you hit those a lot, you’ll like Nomad’s stuff.

Me, I’ll wait until they put USB sockets in bars.

  1. one of those flat ones that plugs into the bottom half of a USB socket
  2. It comes in two flavours; one for iPhones, one for every other device on the planet
  3. Well, it’s about the thickness of two or three credit cards, but it’ll go in your wallet fine; it did in mine
  4. If you’re running a political party in England and you add “USB sockets on every pub table by law!” to your manifesto then you’ve significantly increased your chances of getting my vote, and every other tech person in the country too. Unless you’re UKIP in which case don’t bother
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