The next hot technology: batteries?

Battery chargers hardly count as gadgets on their own. Instead they're unfortunate technological necessities that MIT is working on eradicating. You wouldn't think battery chargers would be poised to take the tech world by storm, but you'd be wrong. If the samples that we've been seeing in recent weeks are any indication, innovative portable chargers are poised to be the ubiquitous "gadget" of 2007. After the jump, get a taste of the new ways you'll be juicing up.

Ecosol's Power Stick (center) won the CES Innovations Award in portable power (which doesn't necessarily mean it'll be a huge hit — last year's innovation in that category was a solar-powered backpack that we have yet to see at the mall). The Power Stick is a solar-powered (or USB-charged), gumstick-sized power source and can be hooked up to any number of devices, from BlackBerrys to digital cameras. And it's far less cumbersome than this British version. Unfortunately for those of us who don't get too many daylight hours outside the office, ambient and florescent light won't cut it as a power source — the Power Stick is hungry for sunlight only. It's still a prototype, but the less environmentally friendly USB-fueled universal cell phone charger should hit stores early next year.

Some less original but more available portable chargers are the iTurbo for iPod and the Turbo Charge cell-phone charger (left). The latter is already in stores for as little as $15, and comes with 10 different attachments. Both of these portable chargers are the size of a tube of lipstick and are powered by one AA battery at a time. They're not practical for everyday use , but would be nice to have during a power outage, or if you were bringing your iPod on safari.

Meanwhile, Duracell is planning to launch the PowerFM (top right), an iPod nano accessory that acts as a radio tuner and provides extra battery life at the same time. The announced price, $80, is a bit steep — for that amount you could buy an iTurbo and a Griffin FM tuner and still have cash leftover to buy batteries, ice cream, and pumpkin pie.