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Imagine you’re headed out of town for a weekend getaway. Maybe you’re going to a friend’s destination wedding or a family trip to the beach, or perhaps it’s camping with your friends. You decide to bring your laptop with you because it’ll be nice to stream movies, get some work done, or play a PC game in your downtime. A laptop can help you feel at home when you’re away from home.
Oops! When you’re unpacking in your hotel room, you realize that you’ve forgotten to pack your laptop charger (or worse yet, you accidentally leave it in the airport power outlet). Your laptop only has a 10% charge left, so it looks like you’re going to have to do without it on this trip. That essential email to the boss will have to wait.
But wait! It doesn’t have to be that way. Believe it or not, you can charge your laptop without a standard laptop charger. It’s quite easy to do, and you should learn how to do it if you’re a fellow 21st-century dweller who feels compelled to take your laptop with you anytime you hit the road.
Here are not 1, not 2, but 3 different ways to charge your laptop when your laptop charger is MIA.
Every laptop is built with an internal battery. To get the battery charged, you’ve just got to supply it with some electricity. Most of the time, we plug our laptop into a power outlet in our home, and the electricity travels through the cable and into the battery.
A laptop charger is arguably the most effective way to transfer power to your laptop battery, but there are other ways to do it, too. All you need is:
Let’s get into it.
One of the most common questions I get is “can I charge my laptop with a USB connector?” This depends on the type of USB port you have on your laptop.
If you are currently using a wired mouse or wired keyboard and you unplug one of them from you’ll see that there’s a rectangular connector at the end of the cord; the metal piece that you insert into the computer. This is called a Type A connector.
It’s the most common USB connector, and whenever someone says “USB” you can reasonably assume they’re referring to USB Type-A. Most likely, your cell phone charger has a USB Type-A connection, too. Unfortunately, while you can use Type A to power smart devices, you can’t use it to power your laptop.
Type A can exchange a sizeable amount of data, but it’s not capable of transferring the huge amount of power that’s needed to replenish your laptop battery. Type A just can’t deliver enough wattage.
However, USB 3.1 introduced a new kind of connector called USB Type C, or “USB-C.” Unlike Type A, USB-C has more of an oval shape. It’s designed for high-wattage connectivity, which means it can transfer far more power than Type A can, and at faster speeds. Much faster:
It’s about to get even better
USB4 was released in 2019, and the accompanied USB-C connector can transfer data at speeds up to 40 Gbit/s.
Long story short, you can’t charge your laptop with USB Type-A, but you can charge your laptop with USB-C.
If your laptop has a built-in USB-C port, then you’ll be able to charge your laptop via a USB-C cable - you just have to make sure the cable has a plug adapter (the box-shaped plug at the end of your phone charger than can plug into an outlet). Some laptops use a USB-C cable as the primary charger.
To charge your laptop via USB-C:
That’s it! Easy as pie, so long as you have access to a USB-C cord. But that’s the glaring problem - what if you don’t have access to one? Unfortunately, ordering a USB-C cable wouldn’t be any easier than ordering a new laptop charger. And making a stop at a computer supply store may not be possible, especially if you are stuck on a Caribbean island for that destination wedding weekend.
But if you’re in the market for a new laptop, you might seriously consider getting one that has at least one USB-C port. The USB-C connector is rapidly gaining popularity. It’s safe to assume that in the future, most laptops will come with USB-C ports, and we might even see the elimination of USB Type-A altogether. The point is, more people in the future are likely to have USB-C cables, so there will be a better chance that someone can lend you one if you lose yours on a trip. Currently, you’d have to find someone who happens to have the same kind of laptop charger as you do, which may prove more difficult.
Nearly all of our popular HP laptop brands have at least one USB-C port:
Note: Always check product specifications before you buy.
A car has electricity, right? And whether you are on a road trip in your vehicle, or renting a car when your aeroplane lands, you can take advantage of the power it produces. It’s fairly straightforward to use it to charge your laptop. You’re going to need two things, though:
It’s easy as one, two, three. To charge your laptop in a car:
Note: Never leave your laptop unsupervised in a vehicle and clear view. That could make it more vulnerable to theft or damage from overheating.
One of the easiest ways to charge your laptop is with a power bank. A power bank is a portable battery for your laptop. All you’ve got to do is connect the power bank to your laptop. The best thing about power banks is that they don’t need to be plugged into an outlet while they’re charging your laptop.
Power banks come in a variety of different models, and they’re not all built with the same charging capacities. You’ll be able to charge less-powerful laptops with a USB Type-A power bank. If you want to charge a more powerful laptop, like a mobile workstation, then you’ll need to get a power bank that’s USB-C-based. USB-C power banks can also power other USB devices, like your smartphone or tablet.
Most likely, your power bank will have enough charge to replenish your laptop battery only one or two times, especially if you’re recharging a more high-powered laptop. It’s important to remember to plug it into an outlet and replenish its charge. When your power bank runs out of charge, you won’t be able to use it to recharge your laptop.
That’s why it’s best to reserve your power bank only for when you need it - like when you accidentally lose your laptop charger. Always keep your power bank inside your laptop bag.
Whenever you hit the road, whether you’re travelling long-distance, backpacking through Europe, or just going on a weekend getaway, you should always bring a laptop bag or backpack. A laptop bag isn’t only for storing your laptop. You should also keep accessories in it that you can use to recharge your laptop in the event you lose your power cord. You should keep accessories that can recharge all of your electronic devices.
The first thing that a laptop bag will do is protect your laptop. Many HP laptop bags are built from weather-resistant fabric and zippers that can withstand rain or hail. The interior of the bags is usually padded with soft, shock-absorbing materials that will protect your laptop if you accidentally drop it, or if your road trip gets rough and your laptop bag starts bouncing around in the back seat.
Arguably the most rugged HP laptop bag is the HP Spectre 13.3 split leather sleeve, which is tough enough to go on an Indiana Jones-caliber adventure.
The best bags also have special protective features against RFID readers. If you carry credit or debit cards with you, know that there are devices that can scan your card information from a short distance. That’s right. A cyber thief with access to such a device could stand behind you in line at the coffee shop and scan your personal and financial information right off your card without you knowing.
They might not do it at a coffee shop, because that would be difficult to do without drawing attention to oneself. But it happens often on the street or public transit. Many HP laptop bags have exterior zippered pockets that are resistant to RFID scanning, so whether you’re going across the world or town you can safely store your credit and debit cards in the pouch without worrying that you’re getting hacked by a cyber thief.
It’s also not a bad idea to get a full-blown backpack for your laptop. A backpack is a bit more ergonomic than a laptop case, and it will enable you to squeeze a bunch more electronics devices inside.
When you’re on the go, make a habit out of bringing a laptop backpack that has all the supplies you need for a successful tech-filled journey while you’re away from the home office. Here’s what you should put in it.
There are powered port hubs and unpowered port hubs. Powered port hubs are great because they supply power to your connected devices (so your devices don’t have to draw power from your laptop). If you only have a limited time to charge your USB devices, you could use a powered hub to charge all of them simultaneously, and you don’t even need an extraneous number of outlets. Some HP powered hubs come with SD card slots and USB-C ports. Learn more about USB port hubs here.
Remember, if you lose your laptop charger and you desperately need to get it powered back up, you can always:
Any of these methods could save you from having to endure a laptop-less weekend when you travel.
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