Less than a quarter of Americans smoke, but cars still come with cigarette lighters because these can be transformed into handy DC power outlets with a plug-in accessory. Kensington has a new option for this with two USB ports capable of simultaneously charging a tablet and a phone, or even two tablets, on a long trip.
The PowerBolt 5.2 Dual Car Charger (K38029WW) has a suggested retail price of $19.99. It is available now.
Design and Build
Kensington did its best to make this accessory as small as possible. A majority of the unit fits inside of the cigarette lighter socket, with just a small portion extending out. This is where the dual USB Type-A ports are located.
Around this is a blue circle that glows to indicate that current is flowing to whatever devices are being charged.
This product comes only in black, and while the Kensington logo is prominently emblazoned on it, this is hidden when the PowerBolt 5.2 is plugged in. It’s all plastic except a few parts that must be metallic, but that’s typical for this type of device.
In our tests, we had no problems getting the PowerBolt 5.2 to immediately make a connection with our car’s electrical system.
This accessory does not come with any cables to connect to tablets or phones, so the user will have to provide the appropriate ones for their devices.
We tested the Kensington PowerBolt 5.2 by plugging in both an Apple iPhone 6S and an iPad Pro. The phone was constantly running to be used as a GPS while the tablet was recharging. After a half hour, the iPhone was still at 100% and the iPad battery had increased by 6%. iPads are known for having unusually high power demands, and the fact that this accessory could recharge one while also charging an iPhone is an indication that it can power just about any USB device.
Kensington says the PowerBolt 5.2 is capable of providing 2.6 amps (13 watts) from each of its two USB ports. It also offers the company’s (unfortunately named) PowerWhiz Technology, which can automatically detect the type of device that has been connected to provide a faster, safer charge.
We ran into no problems with this charter during numerous test runs with a variety of tablets and phones.
The Kensington PowerBolt 5.2 Dual Car Charger does just one job, but it does it very well. It can charge a pair of mobile devices without any hassle, and doesn’t take up any unnecessary space while doing so.
Just about every gas station and kwiky-mart sells cigarette lighter USB chargers for just a few dollars, but very few of these provide enough current to charge an iPad, and most aren’t capable of powering two tablets simultaneously. At $19.99, Kensington’s offering costs a bit more, but it’s capable of keeping a pair of computers running during an extended car trip.