George Ou over at Real World IT talks about his quest for a universal power adapter. Wouldn't it be loverly? Then he observes that USB is becoming the new standard for charging devices including iPods and other portable music players, portable GPS, and an increasing number of phones. All true. He leaves out PDAs and portable gaming devices like PSP and Game Boy.
Then he says, Now all I need is a single cigarette to USB adapter and a single 110 V to USB adapter where ever I travel and I don't need to worry about forgetting a proprietary adapter.
Done and done, my man. I've had USB-charged devices for 3 years, and have found all kinds of goodies. The exact chargers that George is talking about have been around well longer than that. (Yes, you can find white ones designed to work your iPod, for which you'll pay way, way too much.)
After trying the offerings from a handful of vendors, I highly recommend Boxwave. Here's the link for the wall adapter, which I've used more often than I can count in the last three years. The same page has links to other handy devices, including a USB adapter for cigarette lighters.
My very, very favorite device is the miniSync retractable USB cable. The one I have both connects my iRiver "multi-codec jukebox" to my computer and charges it at the same time. There are similar cables for every USB iPod, and even the iPhone. Again, I've used my USB chargers more times than I can count. Even if it's just a few minutes in the car, or a few minutes from a spare laptop, I can keep going.
Since my iRiver has a dandy built-in mic that records to both MP3 and WAV (among others), I've used it for interviews at tradeshows (easy enough to slip the USB connector into any laptop, especially the ones at the Apple booth -- shhhhh!) I've also used it in press briefings, plugged into the interviewee's laptop.
The most life-saving feature is drawing power for a phone over USB. I'll bet you've been in situations where your phone is dead, your laptop has juice, but the phone number you need is on your cellphone. Connect the phone to the laptop, and you're back in business.
Of course, for regular travel, this also means that the only adapter I need is for the laptop. I can charge both a music player and a phone from a USB adapter the size of a 50-cent piece....if you're old enough to remember those...which means you're probably old enough not to say "fitty" every time you pronounce 50.
There are a ton of these little adapters that handle USB 2.0 transfers from the Canon XL-1, hundreds of digital cameras, and much more.
Anyway, Boxwave has a ton of such things: replacement styli for Palm and Treo; dual Firewire-USB adapters for car, wall, and planes; high-quality retractable earbuds (no more tangles!); international power adapters, and on and on. They're cheap, fast, and a pleasure to deal with: the road warrior's best friend since Odwalla Superfood juice.
Not a paid spokesman, just a satisfied customer.