News | TechnologyTCritic: Nomad charger makes on-the-go charging as simple as USBThis article was originally published onBy Nick Vivion | January 14, 2014 The digital nomad is most certainly power hungry - one has to look no further than the tangle of cords that emerges from the average attendee's bag during a conference or at security to see how important devices have become. And an unjuiced device is useless - thus the endless tangle of cables that plagues many a digital traveler's existence. THE PRODUCT: The Nomad charger cable ($25) This particular solution to the cable problem is elegant: a small USB dongle that slots into the lightning port on an iPhone, making it easy to charge wherever there's a USB outlet: a wall outlet, a computer, etc. The Nomad arrives in a simple, attractive package and currently has two iterations available: a compact version that is meant to be attached to a key ring and a flat, credit card-style one that can be slotted into a wallet and then folded out to charge as needed. One is more visible for those who generally attach keys to belt loops and the other is for the more wallet-focused. THE PROMISE: "The iPhone Cable, Reinvented" Not having to carry around charging cables is the key premise here, and it's a solid one. By adding the credit card or key dongle to one's wallet or key chain, one will never be far from a charge. The main issue here is simply finding a USB outlet - of course, this is become much easier as outlets are increasingly integrated with USB in transit hubs such as airports. However, this might be a little more difficult when out and about without a computer. Options in this case would be to ask someone nearby - say at a cafe - to allow a temporary charge, or to simply carry around the wall outlet portion of the phone charge. This would still add a bit of bulk but is still an improvement over the tangle THE FEATURES A simple product: For the key dongle ("ChargeKey"), one end has a skinny male USB adapter on one end and a lightning plug on the other.For the card version ("ChargeCard"), the USB and lightning port are folded flat into a card shape that can be added into the credit card rotation. Available for both iPhone (iPhone 4/5 for ChargeCard and iPhone 5 only for ChargeKey) and Android (microUSB). Here's a shot of how the key dongle arrives: The ChargeKey can simply be removed from the packaging and used immediately. The flexible body ensures that it will make it through the most rigorous lifestyle, hanging from a set of keys.And in the free spirit of nomads, the company will send you a free ChargeKey or ChargeCard in a barter-for-promotion situation. Or even just send them some popcorn - either way, the company will send you a gratis charger if you send over some goodness - NOMAD says they've received everything from popcorn to die-case office furniture, and they promote this barter/trade right on the packaging:THE TRUTH: This is most definitely a solid product at a great price. For $25, the ability to snag a charge when low will pay for itself in the first instance. And, even better, the Nomad charger can potentially reduce the necessity for a certain cohort to have a battery extender or other emergency power source on hand. This means that the thin iPhone can remain thin, and the weight of additional backpacks or emergency chargers can be reduced and/or eliminated. Of course, the main impediment to complete elimination of the more bulky battery extenders is the necessity of finding a USB outlet. And there is some concern that atmospherical dirt, grime and/or dust might accumulate on the charging strips and contaminate any device being charged. We'll need a few months of regular use to make that determination. However, for those traveling with computers, willing to take the small wall plug or confident in asking someone to use a USB port, this is a solid choice. This tool will also become even more useful as more transit hubs deploy USB ports in their charging stations. Many of these "towers of power" have realized that the ubiquity of smartphones means people need more USB charging options, which is advantageous because they take up less room than standard wall chargers. Having a Nomad key dongle or credit card charger is a sure-fire way to ensure consistent access to a charge - and for the price, it's a worthy addition to any digital nomad's collection of goods.