How to: Put an iPad to work, in the car

Power Up

While the iPad can run for several hours on its own, it doesn’t have the power to go for a full day of driving and computing and then play a movie at the motel at night. Luckily, every car has several cigarette lighter outlets and there’s no shortage of devices that turn them into iPad-friendly power.

If size really matters, Just Mobile’s $35 Highway is the perfect car accessory. It delivers 2.1-amps of power via a USB connector. It’s the simplest car accessory to use: Just press it into the cigarette lighter to supply power on demand. With its knurled brushed aluminum top, the Highway looks great in any car and inside is a fuse to protect the car from a power surge. There’s a green LED light to show that it’s working and it comes with an iPad power cable.  The hardest part is that the closest cigarette lighter in my car is behind a door that now has to stay open to convey the power cable. Still, it’s a small price to pay for such a powerful travel companion.

By contrast, Bracketron’s Dual USB charger has two USB power outlets, so it can run a pair of devices. It costs $25, has 1.0- and 2.1-amp outlets and I used it to power both the mobile hotspot and my pad’s sound system in the back bed of the station wagon.  

Duracell’s Power Inverter 130 fits into one of the cup holders between the front two seats. It is quite versatile because in addition to a USB outlet for my pad, there’s a traditional 110-volt AC outlet and for smokers, a cigarette lighter outlet as well.

Its output is limited to a total of 130 watts. With the iPad’s AC adapter taking between 3- and 9-watts of that total, so the remainder should be plenty for my uses, but it can’t power a refrigerator or big screen TV for the back seat. The only problem is that with the iPad mount in one cup holder and the Inverter 130 in the other, there’s no place for my coffee mug.

Brian Nadel

Brian Nadel is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in technology reporting and reviewing. He works out of the suburban New York City area and has covered topics from nuclear power plants and Wi-Fi routers to cars and tablets. The former editor-in-chief of Mobile Computing and Communications, Nadel is the recipient of the TransPacific Writing Award.

  • xxplosiv88
    Goodbye wholesome family roadtrips. BUT, also goodbye to "Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?". Something I'm sure I'll appreciate when I have kids
  • ...or you can leave the damn thing in the trunk, until you have arrived at your destination.
  • Hey its really fantastic idea to carry ipad in cars.