Palm-sized USB fuel cell packs lots of juice, on sale this year

Lilliputian Systems is not a big name in portable power, but they have some big ideas, and this year, they've promised a big product: a fuel cell generator the size of a smartphone that will be able to generate enough power on one cartridge of butane to charge an iPhone up to 14 times. Goodbye batteries, hello liquid electricity.

Later this year, you'll be able to pick up Lilliputian Systems' portable USB power source from Brookstone for an undisclosed sum. It runs off of a special lighter-sized cartridge full of butane that'll cost you a couple bucks per, and will charge anything you can plug into it with a USB cable. When the cartridge runs dry, just pop in another one and you're fully recharged. It's simple, it's cheap, it's portable, it's reliable, and it's about time.

Personally, I'm a big believer in using fuel cells to power electronics. I'm not a big believer in proprietary cartridges, for one simple reason: in order for this charger to really take off, you're going to have to be able to get the cartridges everywhere, and for cheap. But for you to be able to get the cartridges everywhere, and for cheap, this charger will have to have to have really taken off. Kind of a dinosaur or the egg problem here.

And anyway, if the thing runs on butane, why not just make it compatible with all of those butane refill canisters that are already out there? My guess (and maybe I'm just jaded here) is that Lilliputian sees proprietary cartridges as an additional revenue stream, which is great for them, but bad for us. Look, Lilliputian: you've got an amazing little piece of tech going on here. Everybody's going to want one. I know I do. Just let me go to Costco and buy a crate full of cheap butane cylinders so that I'll never have to worry about batteries (or cartridges) ever again, okay? Please?

Lilliputian Systems, via CNET

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