Don’t get that headline wrong; I’m all in favor of buying chargers for phones and other gadgets that drain their batteries quickly. But if your phone, like almost all new models, recharges over the same USB cable that connects it to a computer, you can generally top it off from any power brick or car charger with a USB port, as well as any computer with an open USB port. (Some older BlackBerry phones can be picky about being plugged into a different company’s power adapter.) The iPad and many other tablets — not including Barnes & Noble’s NookColor or Motorola’s Xoom — work this way, too, but often charge more slowly when plugged into a computer or a phone’s power adapter.

You may also find that you only need one USB cable to charge multiple devices: Most non-Apple smartphones incorporate the same micro-USB port, and manufacturers have now moved to make that connection an international standard. Apple’s iPhone, iPad, and iPod (the shuffle excluded) still require the company’s proprietary dock connector, but at least one such cable will work with all of those Apple portable devices.

(About the “PostPoints tip” title: I archive each tip-of-the-week e-mail we send to PostPoints members under this blog’s “Tips” category. Today’s item went out on March 15.)


* Sunday’s column compared two new versions of older Web browsers: Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 9 and Mozilla’s Firefox 4 (as tested using the “release candidate” posted before the official debut scheduled for Tuesday). Overall, I prefer the new Firefox to the new IE ... but Google’s Chrome beats both in a few aspects.

* Help File revisited an old issue, watching DVDs purchased in other countries once you’re back in the United States, and noted how much tighter geographical restrictions are in online video.