Have you ever been traveling and left your wall plug power adapter at home? Last week, I was on a short getaway to Ben Tre in southern Vietnam. When I went to recharge my nearly dead iPhone battery at night, I discovered something unusual. The hotel I was staying at was using relatively non-standard wall power sockets for Vietnam (the British type of socket), and I’d only packed the power adapter for the normal type of Vietnamese power socket.
The hotel’s solution to this problem was this nice little power board you can see in the photo above.
I tried charging my phone via this setup. However, when plugged into the power board, my wall adapter wouldn’t charge my iPhone unless I jiggled the adapter around, or had the adapter half sticking out of the power board. When I tried this technique, there were sparks and crackling sounds galore!
I quickly had visions of being electrocuted, blowing up my iPhone, or burning down the room as I slept, so I started thinking about other possible charging solutions.
The choices seemed difficult.
Do I deplete my spare battery and have no way of recharging it? Do I try and find a western style café in this small town (hard), and charge it there? Or, do I leave my one thousand dollar iPhone at reception for the hotel staff to charge it.
Then the answer struck me.
(It is actually in the photo above. Can you see it?)
Most modern or semi-modern hotels supply televisions in their rooms with flat screens. Many of those flat screen TVs have an in-built USB port. By plugging your mobile device into this USB port, you can recharge your phone.
As it turned out, this strategy worked really well.
My phone was charging as quickly as it would have in the lower speed USB socket of my wall adapter. I wasn’t worried about the phone exploding in the television USB port, because I know the iPhone is designed to regulate the charge it takes… that is, you can’t force more power into an iPhone. Also, the charge coming from this type of USB port connected to a television is not going to be as high as that from a USB port on a modern computer or good external battery, anyway.
The only thing I needed to do was to plug the iPhone into the USB port at the rear of the television before I turned the TV on, and to keep the TV switched on as the phone charged. Knowing how to get a quick charge on an iPhone, I suspect that if I powered down the iPhone after connecting it to this USB power source, I would have gotten a slightly faster charge.
My understanding is that not all televisions with USB ports will provide enough power for charging a mobile device. However, if you’re stuck for power, charging your mobile device via the USB port in the television in your hotel room is an option worth trying.