Print 35 comment(s) - last by Shining Arcani.. on Jun 16 at 5:49 AM

Look mom, no power brick!

Now this is a very interesting device. has announced its InFlight Power USB Unit which allows you to charge small electronic devices via a standard headphone jack found in most airline seats. That means that you never have to worry about running out of juice when flying cross country or overseas with your iPod, PDA, cell phone or DVD player -- if the device can recharge via USB.

The 12 ounce device works by storing energy from the headphone jack and relaying that energy to the USB connector. The device uses a trickle charger which takes 3-5 minutes to fully charge. Once charged, it holds enough energy to power a connected device for about one minute and then the cycle starts over again. Over 700 devices are supported with different tips that attach to the USB port. From InflightPower’s website:

The Inflight Power cable uses an internal trickle charger that takes 3-5 min to fully charge, then outputs power to the attached device (phone, music player etc). It does this repeatedly, thus the cable charges the attached device every 3-5 minutes for 1 minute or less.

The audio volume must be cranked to the maximum to provide the best results. The InFlight Power USB Unit is available for $34.99 by itself, or $49.99 + $4.99 for each additional tip if you need a special connector for your electronic device.

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How Does That Work?
By TomZ on 6/15/2006 1:39:04 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder how that works. USB can supply 2.5W, and there's no way you'll get even close to that out of a headphone audio amplifier. Maybe there's DC power also available on the headphone jack?

RE: How Does That Work?
By Lord Evermore on 6/15/2006 1:45:16 PM , Rating: 2
It doesn't necessarily have to supply the full USB power rating. I thought an individual USB port was only supposed to be 500mW anyway.

RE: How Does That Work?
By Lord Evermore on 6/15/2006 1:46:36 PM , Rating: 2
Oh, milliAmps, not milliwatts. Keep mistaking it.

RE: How Does That Work?
By Lord Evermore on 6/15/2006 1:49:12 PM , Rating: 2
Low power USB mode is only 0.5W maximum, so it could use that if a headphone jack can supply it, so long as a device being charged can work with it.

RE: How Does That Work?
By DEMO24 on 6/15/2006 2:03:15 PM , Rating: 3
This is how it works

# Does the cable charge my device continuously?

The Inflight Power cable uses an internal trickle charger that takes 3-5 min to fully charge, then outputs power to the attached device (phone, music player etc). It does this repeatedly, thus the cable charges the attached device every 3-5 minutes for 1 minute or less.

RE: How Does That Work?
By ZeRoSKiLL on 6/15/2006 2:17:48 PM , Rating: 2
So best case scenario, you get 1 minute of charge time every 3 minutes?

It'll take 4 hours to charge something that would normally take 1 hour on a desktop usb port.

Better than nothing I guess.

RE: How Does That Work?
By ksherman on 6/15/2006 2:27:24 PM , Rating: 2
couldnt u then use it as a sort of extended battery? if your device if charged to begin with, this would only add to the battery life.

RE: How Does That Work?
By xKelemvor on 6/15/2006 2:27:25 PM , Rating: 1
Would be neat to run some tests and have the device in use and see if the charger can even keep up or if it just delays the drain until you have to turn it off and let it charge up.

RE: How Does That Work?
By saratoga on 6/15/2006 2:24:34 PM , Rating: 2
Its probably a charge pump design. Basically it'll charge a cap, then use that charge to power a circuit that produces the correct voltage and current for a battery. When the cap is discharged, it stops charging, and waits for it to power up enough.

It'll be really, really slow. But given a 12 hour flight, it could probably make a difference.

RE: How Does That Work?
By Googer on 6/15/2006 4:28:12 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder if turning up the volume knob would speed up the rate of charging?

RE: How Does That Work?
By Knish on 6/15/2006 4:31:00 PM , Rating: 2
Not only does it, it's required.

what if...
By fanbanlo on 6/15/2006 2:52:53 PM , Rating: 2
the device fired the fuse on the plane?

omg... can't imagine.

RE: what if...
By Wonga on 6/15/2006 2:54:47 PM , Rating: 2
I highly doubt the earphone jacks on a plane are on the same circuit as anything essential.

RE: what if...
By abhaxus on 6/15/2006 3:10:05 PM , Rating: 5
i think we have discovered how the snakes got loose on the plane though...

RE: what if...
By KristopherKubicki on 6/15/2006 3:31:50 PM , Rating: 5
Contexual SoaP references assure +5 moderation.

RE: what if...
By TomZ on 6/15/2006 4:08:05 PM , Rating: 2
Are you guys sharing an inside joke about a movie that is still-to-be-released?

RE: what if...
By KristopherKubicki on 6/15/2006 4:25:13 PM , Rating: 2
More reading here:

By Souka on 6/15/2006 3:43:24 PM , Rating: 2
So...from what you're all saying....

1. You need to turn the volume up to max, and choose a noisy channel for max power output.

2. They need to make a you can plug in several of these units at a time...with a single output. :)

RE: hmmmm
By Stoene on 6/15/2006 3:58:48 PM , Rating: 2
wonder which music puts out the most power. Low Frequency sounds or high frequency sounds plus high volume?

RE: hmmmm
By praeses on 6/15/2006 4:08:48 PM , Rating: 3
Considering it is converting to hopefully a stable DC current when charging, at the same volume the frequency wont make as much of a difference as the shape and the occurance of said tone.

Anyways, asides from electrical interference there probably wont be much in the way of a continous "hum" at any frequency so any continuous music is probably a better bet than say, a movie or plain voice.

RE: hmmmm
By Eris23007 on 6/15/2006 7:59:17 PM , Rating: 2

Actually what you would want would be for the signal coming out of the headphone jack to be saturating the headphone amplifier.

Therefore, your best bet is probably to tune the headphone amp to the "pop music" channel and crank the volume *ALL* the way.


Most pop music audio engineers compress the hell out of the tracks. By compress I mean dynamic range compression, not file size compression. In many cases, eg with the LA-2A or 1176 Limiting Amplifiers (very popular vintage compressors used in high-end studios), his ends up acting like a brick-wall limiter, ensuring that the siganl coming out of the recording is remarkably consistent in dynamic range - that is, the signal is very consistently reaching the same peak levels and staying there for relatively long periods of time.

They also like to apply makeup gain to make the tracks "sound loud" or "sound huge", ensuring that those consistent levels are pegged very close to the maximum output of the recording medium, usually CD. In fact, in the case of CD (16-bit representations), it is particularly important to use this trick, as if you do not utilize as much of the dynamic range as possible (CDs have a dynamic range of 96 dB), you can end up with noise problems - and digital noise sounds like ass.

Anyway, so the point is, since you have those consistently high levels, if you max out the output of the airplane seat's headphone amp, you will provide the maximum possible amount of charge to this device.

If the airplanes had a "metal" channel, that could work even better, as distorted guitars tend to look more like square waves and therefore are even more likely to saturate the output of the airplane seat's headphone amp.

Once you turn up the volume as high as possible, this i

RE: hmmmm
By Eris23007 on 6/15/2006 7:59:57 PM , Rating: 2
Please neglect the last sentence-fragment... not sure what happened there...

RE: hmmmm
By Stoene on 6/16/2006 12:35:09 AM , Rating: 2
Nice, thanks for the info.

By RMSistight on 6/15/2006 1:55:45 PM , Rating: 2
I would actually have to see someone review first before I purchase this item.

RE: ??/
By Wonga on 6/15/06, Rating: 0
RE: ??/
By rushfan2006 on 6/15/2006 4:17:08 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, I mean at $34.99, it's really gonna break the bank.

That is such a stupid comment. So you don't care about wasting money -- no matter the amount, or adding more junk to clutter up your car or your house?

Yeah that's logical.

RE: ??/
By Wonga on 6/15/2006 6:30:51 PM , Rating: 1
My point is, if you really would find a device like this useful, $35 is a small price to pay in the unfortunate event that it doesn't work out perfectly, since you could be trawling through the internet for ages looking for a review of something so cheap.

RE: ??/
By mindless1 on 6/15/2006 10:53:04 PM , Rating: 2
That's ridiculous.

Hold on a sec while I invent something that sounds great but has no useful functionality. It's a small price to pay of course, I'll make my widget cost only $30.

A sucker is born every second. Wait for a review.

Not on all planes
By mikewv on 6/15/2006 8:51:05 PM , Rating: 2
I've flown on some planes that use pneumatic headsets, not electric.
Sort of like a stethascope plugged into the arm-rest. This gadget worn't work on those planes.

RE: Not on all planes
By jkresh on 6/15/2006 9:13:42 PM , Rating: 2
Those tend to be on older planes, most new ones (at least that I have been on) have switched back to electric (which makes sense as it lets people bring their own).

Airlines to provide
By crystal clear on 6/16/2006 3:23:36 AM , Rating: 2
I am frequent flier mostly on business trips,& like me thousands who do feel the Airline should provide a device like this.Even better a Universal charger for our devices.
Enough of those battery packs that we carry along as back up.
WE pay more , we fly more,we spend more ,so we deserve more

RE: Airlines to provide
By Shining Arcanine on 6/16/2006 5:49:42 AM , Rating: 2
You are paying more to pay for rising oil prices, not more luxuries.

It's a gimmick.
By Trisped on 6/15/2006 2:47:37 PM , Rating: 2
The head phone jack isn't getting continuous power. Basically as the "louder" sounds are transmitted they send more power. It then saves the power in a capacitor and sends it to the USB device once the power is sufficient.

So if there is no sound, there will be no power. It also won't provide very much power. You would be better off spending the money on batteries.

Sneaky charge
By Chavmaniac on 6/15/2006 3:13:15 PM , Rating: 2
You dont have to plug it into the airplane seat socket, you could plug it into somebody elses device while they sleep! Or plug it into the device you want to charge and turn the volume to the 'spinal tap' setting.... ;)

Perpetual Energy at last!
By gez on 6/15/2006 11:57:44 PM , Rating: 2
Yay! My iPod will finally charge itself!

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