In 1996, the Universal Serial Bus (USB) port was released as an option on personal computers available at the time. What’s more, the computer immediately recognised the device when it was plugged in and self-installed the necessary drivers for it to work. At the time, it was an incredible step forward in usability.
Fast forward to today and USB ports are seemingly everywhere. With such proliferation, it makes sense to use them to recharge small devices. The problem is, the maximum power available from a modern USB port is no more than 5V.
So manufacturers of USB-charged devices need to make their products extremely energy-efficient, which makes them ideal for RV applications. As with most things, some of these products are better than others. But here are five devices that are ideal for the RV lifestyle.
1. BOSE SOUNDLINK MICRO BLUETOOTH SPEAKER
There are hundreds of Bluetooth speakers on the market but, if you want one that provides exceptional sound quality, then Bose is one brand you will want to look at.
The Soundlink Micro is the baby of the range but it packs in a lot of features. The battery will last around six hours, you can use it for Google and Siri searches, it’s a hands-free speaker phone and it’s waterproof to IPX 7 rating.
The sound quality is exceptional given its small size, and its USB-rechargeable.
Available in three colours, it retails for $150 but shop around as you can pick it up for less at any one of a number of discount hi-fi retailers.
2. MINELAB EQUINOX 800 METAL DETECTOR
If you have considered taking a metal detector with you on our travels but have been put off by their bulk and high price tag, take a look at this product.
Two years ago, Minelab, a name synonymous with quality metal detectors, introduced the Equinox range to the market. These use multi-frequency technology and specific detection modes to perform in a variety of environments.
The user interface makes metal detecting simple, and the internal battery, which is USB-rechargeable, lasts for up to 12 hours.
The 800 is the top of the Equinox range and is recognised as one of the best all-round metal detectors on the market. Priced around $1245, it’s an investment that could really pay off one day.
3. PERFECT IMAGE USB RECHARGEABLE HEADLAMP
Many inexpensive headlamp torches require AAA batteries and, in a really bright torch, they just don’t last long.
But this USB-rechargeable headlamp from Perfect Image has a white LED light with three brightness settings, the brightest of which is an incredible 230 lumens – good for lighting around 75m ahead. This is a seriously bright torch. It also has a red LED light for retaining night vision.
You can adjust the angle of the torch to suit your situation. The light weight, internal lithium battery will charge in about 3.5 hours and last up to 16 hours.
Available from Whitworths for around $25, it’s an absolute bargain.
4. KOOLMAXX DELUX PERSONAL MINI FAN
Trying to stay cool while free-camping can be a challenge, especially on warm summer nights. If there’s no breeze blowing through your caravan, it can be very uncomfortable.
The Koolmaxx personal mini fan is perfect for these situations. It’s small, so it can sit on the bedside table of your caravan. The 2000mAH battery is USB-rechargeable and lasts up to six hours on low speed.
We’ve tested these in some pretty extreme heat in the tropical north and the gentle flow of air they provide is sufficient to keep you cool while you sleep.
We purchased ours from the TV Shop for $20 but similar units are available from electrical retail stores and online.
5. UNIDEN UH820S HANDHELD UHF TRANSCIEVER
Without question, one of the handiest bits of kit you can have while caravanning is a hand-held UHF CB radio. The problem is most portable radios are fairly cheap and have very poor sound, which is pretty frustrating.
They also generally have their own battery packs that need to be recharged via a special power transformer or a docking station. The Uniden UH820s, however, eliminates these issues.
It is a high-quality device with an excellent microphone that uses a ‘voice enhancer’, ensuring you can hear your partner’s instructions very clearly as you reverse your van!
It is very small and light but it’s also rugged. Best of all, its internal battery is USB-rechargeable. It can also run on three AAA batteries if required.
Available for around $100 from electronic and specialist communication outlets, it is great value.