Review: Yogen charges your mobile device -- without electricity

If you're stuck somewhere without a socket, this will keep your phone going.

It's not uncommon, especially in these days of smartphones and media players, to pull out your mobile device and find that the power indicator is dangerously near zero. If you're not near a power source -- especially if you're hiking or in some other out-of-the-way place -- you could find yourself out of luck. The Yogen ($40) charger could help.

What's cool about it? The Yogen calls itself a "charger for life" and it has to be said that this is one mobile charger that doesn't use any resources other than human muscle power. The Yogen is a small 3.5-ounce charger that powers itself up when you pull its handle -- repeatedly -- for several minutes. You attach it to your mobile device, start pulling, and a small green LED shows that it's working. After several minutes of exercise, you should have given your mobile unit enough of a charge for the few minutes it would take to, say, call for help if you were lost in the woods.

What needs to be fixed? You need to be careful about which Yogen you order. Mine came with two tips -- a mini-USB and one for an Apple iPhone 3G. There is another model that accommodates three other phone types plus a micro-USB (and a tip for an iPhone 3Gs is due soon), but it would be better if Yogen offered its customers the choice to purchase extra chargers.

Final verdict: The Yogen is a useful device for active people who may find themselves in a remote location without access to any other power source -- and the need to use their mobile phones. It's also a neat idea -- it's lightweight, and unlike more traditional mobile chargers, can never run out of power (at least, until you run out of energy yourself). And during a blackout, it can be very handy.

However, for day-to-day emergency power-ups, one of the more traditional (if less "green") mobile chargers, which can give you more than a few minutes of talk time, would probably be more practical.

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