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Frequent travelers will love these new charging technologies

Key Points
  • Power Delivery (PD) and gallium nitride (GaN) are creating smaller, more powerful charging solutions.
  • That means you can carry one small charger that can charge all of your devices.
  • And newer battery packs can charge your gadgets as fast as possible.
New Power Delivery battery packs.
Todd Haselton | CNBC

There are two kinds of new charging technologies that you need to know about. If you travel a lot, they'll help you cut down on the number of chargers you need to bring with you. You might even want to just bring one for all of your devices.

And, better yet, one of the technologies, a USB specification called Power Delivery (PD), charges your devices as fast as possible, which means you'll spend less time waiting for your phone, tablet or computer to get to 100%.

If you've used battery packs in the past and hate that they take forever to recharge, or if you're tired of carrying several chargers for all of your gadgets, then you'll like what you're about to hear.

Charging has changed. let me explain.

GaN wall chargers and Power Delivery

The Anker GaN charger is super tiny but really powerful.

The chargers that you use to plug your gadgets into the wall don't have to be huge.

New gallium nitride (GaN) chargers are now shipping, and they include another new technology called Power Delivery.

Put simply, these wall chargers are the parts that your computer, tablet or phone use to plug into a wall. Normally, you might just use the one that comes with your computer, but they can either be really big and heavy, or they don't charge your device as fast as it was built to. Apple, for example, still ships 5-watt chargers with its iPhones, even though you can charge it faster using up to an 18-watt charger. And this applies for all sorts of gadgets.

Look how small this Anker GaN charger is.. but it's powerful enough to charge a MacBook Air at full speed.
Todd Haselton | CNBC

GaN allows the chargers to be smaller and Power Delivery allows them to deliver enough power to charge quickly.

Previously, you might have had to buy an iPad charger for your iPhone to get it to charge faster than the one that comes in the box. Or you could use your bulky MacBook charger for all three. But GaN chargers are super small, just slightly bigger than an iPhone charger, and they have the power to charge up to 30-watt or 45-watt devices, like a laptop. It can power your devices as long as they use the new USB-C standard.

This tiny charger can power my MacBook Air.
Todd Haselton | CNBC

What this all means is that GaN gives you the power you need in a small, compact charger that works with multiple devices and charges them quickly. So long as your product uses USB-C charging and supports Power Delivery (most new stuff does), you're good to go. You don't need to carry three chargers, just a single one that works with multiple products.

You can use a gadget like Anker's 30W Ultra Compact Type-C Wall Charger. I bought one and use it everywhere I go to charge everything from my phone to a Nintendo Switch. The 30-watt rating is enough for MacBooks, the MacBook Air, the iPad, iPhones and Android devices. If you need something for a MacBook Pro or a similar Windows laptop that uses USB-C charging but needs up to 45-watts, a company named RAVPower has one.

Power Delivery battery packs

New battery packs from OmniCharge and Anker with Power Delivery.
Todd Haselton | CNBC

While GaN paired with Power Delivery is great for when you have an outlet, sometimes you need to charge on the go. That's where new Power Delivery battery packs come in. These, like the chargers, automatically charge your gadgets at the maximum speed possible, again thanks to the smarts built in to Power Delivery and USB-C.

Some battery packs don't support up to 30-watts or 45-watts, however, which means they don't have enough power to juice your laptop on the go. So, if you want something that can charge up all of your devices, look for ones that go up to 30-watts (MacBook, MacBook Air) or 45-watts (MacBook Pro, Dell XPS 13). And look for one with a lot of capacity. I like 10,000mAh or more in a battery pack, but up to 20,000mAh or more if I want it to charge a laptop, too.

Importantly, Power Delivery works two ways. So, while these higher capacity battery packs used to take 12 to 18 hours too charge fully, they now can charge in 4-6 hours. That means you have a pack that can juice up your iPhone 5 times, an iPad at least once or twice, or a full laptop charge, in your bag all the time.

This OmniCharge pack can charge my iPad, phone, Nintendo Switch and more at full speed.

I have a few models I like. OmniCharge sent me its new OmniCharge 20+, which I love. (It's out of stock at time of publication on Amazon, but the company says more will be available in a week.) It charges itself quickly, has enough capacity to power up all of my gadgets, and even has wireless charging built in to the top so you can juice up AirPods or your phone without plugging it in.

Using the OmniCharge 20+ to power my MacBook Air and wirelessly charge my AirPods on top.
Todd Haselton | CNBC

A small display also indicates how much power it's outputting or receiving, so you can tell if your gadget is getting as much juice as it can. The company also sells a smaller 12,800mAh pack for $69.99, which works well and still includes wireless charging and Power Delivery, but can't fill your gadgets as many times. These don't come with a Power Delivery wall charger, however, so you'll want to buy something like the Anker product above also.

An Anker battery pack with Power Delivery.
Todd Haselton | CNBC

You might also consider the Anker PowerCore Speed 20000 PD, 20100mAh Portable Charger & 30W Power Delivery Wall Charger Bundle, which I bought for $99.99 and bring with me everywhere. It doesn't have wireless charging, but it has plenty of juice and includes the Power Delivery wall charger for juicing up the pack as fast as possible, usually in about four to five hours.

Takeaway

All of this might sound a bit confusing, but I've tried to make it as simple as possible. If you carry a lot of gadgets or travel a lot, you need two things: A new GaN charger with Power Delivery and a new battery pack with Power Delivery. You'll need to carry fewer chargers, and everything you own will charge at maximum speed. You'll carry less weight, fewer chargers and save time.

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