Small but mighty rapid phone charger for $16.99, using 8-track tapes in the 21st century (Week 48, 2020)

Sound Advice
By Don Lindich

Week 48, 2020

Small but mighty: I expect this week’s gift recommendation to find an enthusiastic response because the usefulness and low price ($16.99) make it, as they say, a no-brainer whether buying for yourself or another.

The Anker Nano is a small wall charger that is the same size as the charger Apple includes with new iPhones.The size is about all they have in common because the Anker Nano is a 20 watt charger, a far cry from the minuscule 5 watts of the standard Apple charger. The end result is three times faster charging. For example, charge your dead phone for 30 minutes with the 5W Apple charger and you get a 17% charge. With the Anker Nano that same 30 minutes yields a whopping 53% charge.That can be the difference between making it through the day comfortably or not, and in these pandemic times people are spending less time in public places where they can plug in their phones and other devices.Best to make the most of that charging time while sitting at Panera!

The Anker Nano has a USB-C connection and must be used with a USB-C to Lightning cable, which is included with most new iPhones. If you do not have this cable you can get one from many sources, including Anker, who sells a nice one for the same $16.99 price as the charger.

The Anker Nano can also be used to charge iPads, AirPods, and Apple Watches. With the appropriate USB-C cable it can also charge most any other device with a USB connection, including Android phones, earphones, Bluetooth speakers and power banks. For under $17 it is a tremendous value and comes with my highest recommendation. It can be found on Amazon or at

Q. I have a computer paper box full of 8-track tapes. Do they still make and sell 8-track players? If so, what would be your recommendation and where can someone purchase one?

-C.P., Norwood Young America, MN

A. Your question intrigued me because of my interest in old and interesting technology, and my realization that yours is the first-ever 8-track question sent to this column since it started over 18 years ago. I know a lot about old technology and formats yet have never owned or learned much about the 8-track system. Some research was in order.

I found a small but very dedicated group of 8-track fans who still enjoy the format. There are even a few independent record labels issuing new music on 8-track tapes. I also found it fascinating that Bill Lear, creator of the Learjet, was the creator of the 8-track format and his marketing genius was responsible for its success in its heyday. You can learn more at

Despite a small cult following, there are no new 8-track players being produced today. The closest you can get is a refurbished version of the iconic Panasonic RQ-830S Dynamite TNT player, available on eBay for around $250. Before you spend that much you should consider whether 8-track collecting will be a hobby or if you just want to listen to the music you have now. If the latter, taking a chance on a less expensive used player may be a better option. These include component players that connect to a home sound system.

It also may make more sense to just replace the tapes with used CDs of the same albums, if available. It would likely cost less than the $250 refurbished player.