RAVPower Luster 3000mAh Gold Lipstick Charger Review

RAVPower 3000mAh External Battery Charger Pack power bank

RAVPower 3000mAh External Battery Charger Pack power bank

I was recently contacted by the lovely team at RAV Power to ask if I was willing to try out their new Luster Gold Lipstick Charger*and I said yes because it looked very pretty and I was keen to see how it compared with the Anker one which I had previouslyreviewed here.

RAVPower 3000mAh External Battery Charger Pack Power Bank

RAVPower 3000mAh External Battery Charger Pack Power Bank

Packaging
The packaging of any product, even if it is not a beauty item, just makes me happy and it makes me feel like the manufacturers actually care about their customers. It has an outer packaging which shows what product you receive, the colour and the specs. Inside the packaging, it has the warranty card, some instruction of use and other details about the product. Apart from the paper work, you also get a cable for charging it, the power pack itself and a clip which is a lovely touch especially for guys who don’t carry bags.
Luster Gold Lipstick Power Pack
Don’t you just love how attractive it looks? It’s just really pretty. There are other colours as well so if you are not a gold-y girl or guy, then you can choose from a selection of black, pink, blue, etc. I prefer the gold colour because it really stands out.
Specification
It has a capacity of 3000 mAH and an output DC of 5V/1A. It is really compact with a height of 4.33 inches and a width of 0.9 inches. Its weight is 2.57 oz which is pretty portable and it won’t weigh down your wallet or purse although it is described as a lipstick charger, it is definitely heavier than a lipstick. According to RAVPower, its external battery is LG grade A cell with premium chips to ensure consistent high quality.

What phones/devices are compatible?
It is compatible with virtually any device that uses a USB cable which is very handy. It works on all generations of the iPhone and iPads although you need to have your lightning cable as the USB cable attached will not work on it.  Other devices include HTC: One X, S, V/Sensation XE XL/EVO 4G/Radar 4G/Inspire 4G/ ThunderBolt  Samsung: Galaxy S4/S3/Note 3/Note 2/S2 /Nexus/Galaxy Note/Focus S/Infuse Google: Nexus 5, Nexus 4, Google glass Motorola: Droid Razr, Bionic/Atrix 2/riumph – Other cell phone, MP3, MP4, digital camera, and other with DC 5V input.
How does it work?
It works in a pretty straightforward way. When it is charging,  it shows a red light and once it is fully charged,  it shows a blue light.  Once it is fully charged, you attach your device and it charges it straight up. If you take off your phone, it automatically stops charging so you don’t have to worry about wasting the charge which is really good because many times I just take my phone off in a hurry..lol.
What else does it offer?
This is where things get as little more interesting. Would you believe this also doubles as a flash light? I know, I was surprised and the light that comes off this little device is really bright. It’s almost unbelievable! It has a small button to switch on the flash light and it has 3 settings. If press the button once, you get a bright consistent light which can act like a torch light, press the button twice, you get a dimmer light which is ideal if you hate sleeping in the dark and press it thrice, you get a strobe light which can also double as a disco light…I kid, I kid!! This means you can take this with you for camping, riding a bike at night and going to dark places and that’s really I think cool.

Comparison with Anker similar model
I thought it would be interesting to compare the RAV Power model with the Anker one. They are very similar as expected but theRAV Power one is slightly longer but weighs about the same. Of course, the added flash light gives it an edge over the Anker model. However, in terms of lasting power, I think I prefer the RAV Power model because it takes a shorter to time to charge and holds a good charge for my phone as well which is why it is my go-to power bank. I still love my Anker model but I find myself reaching for the RAV power model more these days for all the above reasons.

Cost
It is sold on Amazon which is brilliant so you can read other reviews on there by people who have purchased it. Also, it is sold both in the UK and USA and I believe they ship to other places. If you are in the UK, you can purchase it for $19.99 here on Amazon and if you live in the UK, you can purchase it on offer for £10.99 on Amazon UK. I think it’s an absolute bargain for the quality you get especially with free delivery on Amazon UK. I honestly can’t think of anything bad to say about this device but I have listed a few things which you may want to be aware of.

Cons

1  1. When you use the clip, there may be some scratches if you are not very careful.
2  2. It is slightly longer than the other power packs.
Personal thoughts

I have to say that I really like this charger because it charges my phone throughout when I am at work and that’s for a period of 8 hours which I think is brilliant. I only have to charge it in the evenings when I get home and it does not take long to charge which is even more brilliant! I particularly like the added flash light feature because it makes it a really practical device which can be used in a variety of situations and it shows that the folks at RAVPower took extra time to think about a product that will stand out against the other power banks that have flooded the market.  The clip which is attached makes it suitable for guys as well who are always on the move and it means you can never forget it as it’s clipped to your clothing. See you in my next post…x

*PR Samples: I was kindly sent this product for review but all opinions are mine as always!

 

Original Post

RAVPower 3000mAh External Battery Charger review

When you are on the go as much as I am, your mobile devices can quickly run out of juice. My iPhone 5 is a prime target for battery drain as it constantly has background tasks running. While there are some steps that I could take to alleviate some of that drain, there is another option available – carry a portable external battery. Even this can sometimes not be a viable solution because many external batteries are bulky and not easily carried side-by-side with mobile devices such as the iPhone. One exception to this rule is the RAVPower Luster.

RAVPower 3000mAh External Battery Charger power bank

RAVPower 3000mAh External Battery Charger power bank

The RAVPower Luster is a 3000 mAh external battery that is the size of a roll of coins. Its weight of only 2.57 oz, makes the Luster a fantastic candidate for solving charging problems on the go. Because of its size and shape, the Luster fits easily into a pocket, purse or bag and can help charge the iPhone 5 for an additional 6 hours. The battery is made from Grade A battery cells, which ensure 500+ recharge cycles for the life of the Luster. It’s compatible with any mobile devices with DC 5V input. The Luster has a standard USB port for charging and a micro USB port to recharge the Luster.

In addition to it being a good option for charging your devices, the Luster has a dual-purpose design – it’s a power bank and a flashlight. The flashlight is a powerful LED-based light that has three settings – high, low and strobe. The strobe setting is built-in for emergencies.

The built-in flashlight is a feature that immediately drew my attention to the Luster over other external chargers in the market. Because of its size, I will more than likely have the Luster with me while I’m on the go. It’s a great insurance policy against a discharged battery on my phone. And, because I will have it on my person during most outings, the flashlight becomes an added insurance policy against uncertain, dark situations.

Another feature I really like is the dual color charge indicator lights. When the Luster is fully charged, a blue LED indicator light appears showing the owner that its charged and ready to go. When the Luster is in need of a charge, the LED indicator light is red. To charge the Luster, simply plug it in to a USB charger or a computer.

The RAVPower Luster comes equipped with a metal clip that allows you to secure it while you carry it. The only problem is that the clip can easily slip off of the Luster. There is no indention or lip to prevent this from happening.

The quality design is definitely worth noting. The Luster is constructed from aluminum, which fits the iPhone persona and two of its colors – gold and silver – matches the colors of the iPhones. The other three colors are blue, pink and black.

For the price point in the external charger market, the RAVPower can’t be beat. It retails for $19.99 and can be purchased through ravpower.com oramazon. If you are in need of an external battery, I can highly recommend the RAVPower Luster for any mobile user on the go.

 

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A REVIEW OF THE ANKER ASTRO3 EXTERNAL BATTERY CHARGER

I’ve mentioned the importance of mobile battery backup and charging in a few articles recently (see 10 Travel Photography Essentials and 10 Tips for Better Photography Conventions & Trade Shows), so I decided it was finally time to start taking my own advice. Let’s face it– “getting away from it all” sounds great in theory, but the reality is that most of the time we have to stay connected. And while location shooting, travel, trade shows, chasing down new business, and shuttling my kid from one activity to the next can all be fun and rewarding, they do tend to drain the life force out of phones, tablets, and laptops pretty quickly. While a car charger obviously helps, it doesn’t come anywhere close to solving the problem. That’s why I decided to try the Anker 2nd Generation Astro3 12000 mAh External Battery Charger. In a sleek- lightweight package only slightly bigger than my iPhone, this thing really packs a punch.

SPECS

  • Capacity    12000 mAh / 3.7V
  • Input    5V / 1.5A
  • Smart Output    5V / 2.4A (min 50mA)
  • Universal Output    5V / 4A (min 50mA)
  • Total Output    5V / 4A
  • Dimensions    4.4″ x 3.3″ x 1.0″   (111 x 83 x 26mm)
  • Weight    11 oz. / 300 g
Anker Astro External Battery Charger Power Bank

Anker Astro External Battery Charger Power Bank

WHAT’S IN THE BOX

  • 1 Anker 2nd Generation Astro3
  • Travel pouch
  • Micro USB charging cable (USB-compatible wall plug not included)
  • Note:  You may want to use a longer cord for charging the Astro3. The included 8″ cord will probably work better with hubs than with wall outlets.
Anker Astro External Battery Charger Power Bank Portable Charger

Anker Astro External Battery Charger Power Bank Portable Charger

IMPRESSIONS

The highest praise I can give any product I review is that it does what it says it does and does it well. A reasonable price tag doesn’t hurt, but I’m often willing to spend a little more for peace of mind. Thankfully, that’s not necessary with the Astro3. At $50.00 (USD), it is rugged, compact, and has enough juice to fully charge an iPhone six times, and larger capacity phones like the Galaxy S4 almost four times.

The Smart charging port detects the type of device connected and provides full-speed charging of up to 5V/2.4A — this includes all Apple products, Android phones, Galaxy tablets, and other USB-enabled devices. The Universal ports charge most devices at up to 1.5A (4A max) through a custom circuit designed to charge Android phones at full speed. More on this in a little bit.

I also like the fact that there are no buttons or other external moving parts  that might break. Once plugged in, a simple shake starts the charging process. The LED indicator shows the Astro3′s current charge in 10% increments. The indicator remains lit while the Astro3 is either charging or being charged. The indicator lights turn off automatically when charging is complete.

BLACK OR WHITE?

The Astro3 is available in black or white– a fact not usually worth noting, but in this case it actually makes a difference. In what I can only describe as a design mystery, the black version has one Smart port and two Universal ports, while all three ports on the white version are Smart ports. I’m not a big fan of white equipment and peripherals, but I could be quickly changing my mind– especially since there appears to be no price difference between the two. If I can charge three Apple products at once– all at full speed– why settle for an option that only lets me charge one at full speed? The difference between the two in no way changes my high opinion of this battery/charger. I bring it up only so you’re not surprised when you open the box. I’m super impressed with Anker and have already put some of their other products on my wish list. Anker’s marketing department also tells me that there are plans to upgrade the black version to three smart ports some time in April.

RECOMMENDATIONS

This is my first mobile battery backup/charger and I honestly feel like I’ve won the lottery. I have no idea why it took me so long to plug in. The peace of mind that comes with knowing I don’t have to ration battery power or scale back on device usage while traveling or shooting on location is huge. While we don’t really have a formal rating system here at DIY Photography, this little pack of power would get my highest marks if we did. For serious power users who may need more capacity than the 12000 mAh of the Astro3, check out the Astro E5 (15000 mAh) or the 2nd Gen Astro Pro 2 (20000 mAh).

For more information on this and other Anker products, be sure to check out their website.

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RAVPower Luster 3000mAh External Battery (mini-review)

THE PRODUCT

The RAVPower Luster 3000mAh External Battery.

THE GOOD

In short, it totally works. Like, really well. I keep it with me at all times now because my iPhone 5′s battery is becoming more pitiful by the day. So, even though I still have 13 per cent of my battery life yet and my lovely iPhone decides it’s going to power down (just for fun), I have the RAVPower external battery ready to bring it back to life.

One fully-charged RAVPower external battery provides one complete charge to a totally dead device. We’ve tried this with an iPhone, Samsung Note3 and two generations of iPod Touches. Works consistently well with all of them.

It’s also a flash light. And, bonus! A strobe light. So if you ever find yourself in a noraebang and need a light show, this is the ticket.

The colours are awesome. The hot pink is truly a luster-y hot pink that any pink-lover will, uh, love.

If you can get it for the sale price of $19.99 that’s listed on RAVPower’s website as I write this post, it’s absolutely worth every penny. If it’s back up to $50, well, that’s a bit much in my opinion.

THE GAFFE

The RAVPower Luster External Battery takes a LONG time to charge. At least four to five hours. So if you deplete it, you’re going to have to give yourself a whole lot of time to get it re-charged. At $20, you might as well buy two and have a backup if you’re the kind of person who’s gone from sun up to sun down and needs to be tapping away all day long.

Although I don’t mind the size of the RAVPower Luster, I wish it was more the size of a lipstick like it mentions on the website. As it stands, I couldn’t get my phone and external battery into an average evening bag that also needs to house ID and lipstick.

RavPower 14000mAh Power Bank Review

A little over a month ago, XDA Developer TV Producer Jordan reviewed a device that was an external battery plus a plethora of options from RAVPower. Perhaps the most useful feature of that device is its battery, because while it is nice to have a Wireless Internet repeater, most of the time you just need to juice up your phone. So why buy a multipurpose device when you can get just a battery—and one of the biggest batteries we’ve seen, at that!

In this episode, XDA Developer TV Producer TK takes some time to talk about a unique smartphone accessory, the RavPower 14000mAh Power Bank. This device is marketed as a backup external battery charger.  And in a market full of external battery juicers, does this one stand out? Check out this video to find out.

Source

Anker Astro E5 15000mAh Portable High Capacity Charger Review

For those of you not familiar with this, it is an Android phone based game that combines augmented reality and geocaching. The game is VERY HEAVY on battery usage on the Samsung GS2. During these meetups, I usually end up switching a battery out or leaching off of someone elses battery pack. So when Anker offered this to me for testing, I was all over it.

The pack came precharged about half way. As soon as I got it, I put it on to charge and it was fully charged within the 4 hour timeframe prior to the meetup. The device is charged using a micro USB port on the side. It did not come with a wall charger, which I found somewhat weird. What if I didn’t have a USB option to charge it with? It did come with a USB cable that had multiple options for connectors at the end. I only used the micro USB for my GS2 during my review time.

The device is very well built. It has a very nice little LED flashlight which came in handy during the late night meetup while walking down the streets of town. The device shows it’s charge through 4 lights on the device. When they are fully lit, it has that much charge (think 25% per light). When I started, all 4 lights were lit. I will say that my use of the external pack is probably different from many. I believe it is meant to recharge your device when it gets low. I personally use it as battery for my phone. So Ingress was running on my phone the entire time that the meetup was going on. We walked around town for about 4 hours or more. Once the meetup was done and I got back to my car, I pulled the E5 out of my back pocket and noticed 2 things right off the bat. First thing I noticed, it was cool to the touch (or as cool as it could be expected after sitting in my back pocket on a warm night). Second thing I noticed, I still had 4 charged lights on the pack! HOLY COW!! After 4 hours of continuous use (on the 1A side) there was very little drainage of the E5! Very nice! It’s great to have a product that I don’t have to worry about if a backup power source is needed! No more need for my second battery pack!! WOOT WOOT!

Anker E5 External Battery Charger

 

After this meetup, the E5 was stored in my car for almost a week. I checked it today prior to doing this review and it was still at 3 lights full!

So now for the usual pros and cons of the review:

Pros:
Long lasting charge even after 4 hours of continuous use
Charges both Android and Apple devices simultaneously. It has a dedicated USB port for each of the technologies. You can use both for Android devices, but the Apple port will charge faster and could possibly damage your device.
LED Flashlight. Not a necessity, but it was really nice to have it as an option.
Lightweight
Multiple connectors on the USB cable. Allows for only one USB cable to be carried and quick switching between differently connected devices.
It charges the Lightning Adapter Apple products. I don’t have any of these personally. But I do know that it is the first Anker product that is built with that tech in mind.

Cons:
No wall charger. You are expected to have a USB charging option. I guess this makes sense since the device is for recharging USB devices anyway. But I just felt like a wall charger could have been useful, especially if my PC USB ports are currently charging my USB devices…
Awkward to carry. I’d like to see a belt clip or something for these devices. Currently, it has to either go in my pocket or I have to carry it around. It may be different for you depending on your use.

Overall, this product went above and beyond my expectations. Now, if I could just find a way to carry it around without having to hold it in my pocket, increasing the temperature around it…

More Details

  • Smooth, ebony varnish allows you to power up in style, while 4 status LEDs keep you informed of remaining capacity. Built-in flashlight for dark or low-light environments.
  • Ultra-high density battery cells make this the world’s most compact 15000mAh external battery. Use a 5V / 1.5A adapter (not included) for fastest charging (9-10 hours).
  • Monster capacity (15000mAh) charges the iPhone almost 7 times, large-capacity phones like the Galaxy S4 4 times or almost a full charge to an iPad 3 / 4. In terms of power, this is the biggest, baddest battery in the Anker® mobile line.
  • Super-fast charge output (5V / 3A total) through dual USB ports (5V / 2A and 5V / 1A) allow for simultaneous charging of your iPad, iPhone, Android, and more at high speed.
  • Package contents: Anker® Astro E5 External Battery, Micro USB cable, travel pouch, instruction manual.

With such massive capacity, in such a compact package, the Anker® Astro E5 is perfect for flights, road trips, or just any time you’re away from an outlet.

From the manufacturer:

Enough power to go around.
Marooned? In transit? Forget your OEM adapter? With the Anker® Astro E5, prolong your battery life multiple times, wherever you are. Holding enough power to charge most smartphones 7-8 times, keep your gadgets going for days and still have juice left to share.

Strong but never slow.
In addition to capacity, the Anker® Astro E6 sports two concurrent, high-speed ports. So whether you’re charging an Apple or Android device, you’ll get the most out of your technology. We’ve also included connective adapters to ensure compatibility with most devices.

Designed around the details.
Just because the E5 packs a punch, doesn’t mean it can’t look nice. We went with a smooth, ebony finish to keep you traveling in style. Simple, unobtrusive features, such as one-touch status LEDs and a built-in flashlight, give you everything you need out of a battery without sacrificing aesthetics.

For optimal use.
• For simultaneous, max-speed charging of your Astro and other devices, check out Anker’s new 25W 5-port wall charger or dual-port 24W car charger.
• Compatible with all Apple and Android smartphones, tablets and other USB charged devices with a 5V charge input. The iPod nano, Samsung and Asus tablets and some GPS and Bluetooth devices are not supported.

TECHNOLOGY TUESDAY: NEED JUICE? JACKERY IS THE ANSWER

We originally ran this piece back in March, but we figured the timing was right to re-run it as summer tour and festival season hits its stride. The Jackery works like a charm to give you plenty of additional mobile battery power. Also, this will be the final Technology Tuesday here on Hidden Track, so we just wanted to thank Parker Harrington for his incredible contributions over the past few years. Look for his new column on our new home.

Mobile batteries haven’t really been something to get excited about. A couple years ago they were novel but they are becoming as ubiquitous as smart phones themselves. All sorts of sizes & shapes have been floating around ranging from monster-sized bricks to form-fitting sleeves like Mophie’s Juice Pack. Yet, I’ve never quite found a portable charging solution that packed enough power, was portable enough, charged quick enough and was versatile enough to make it a great solution for portable charging needs.

Thankfully, Jackery has released three products that all offer ultra fast charging, huge capacity and fantastic form factors. The Mini (2,600 mAh), The Bar (5,600 mAh) and The Giant (10,400 mAh) all sport pretty stylish looks along with some cool features. Read on to learn why these Jackery products make for the best portable charging solutions available.

The Problem: When on the go, like traveling for business, hitting summer festivals or any other time you are away from AC sockets for an extended period, your gadgets crave power. Tablets, e-readers, smartphones, noise-canceling headphones, portable GPS units, gaming devices, portable music players – the list goes on and on. Some smartphone users, of course, have the luxury of removable batteries but having a spare battery only solves the recharging needs for that device. Many people, including iPhone users and Nexus 4 users, don’t have that ability. A portable, external battery can be a Godsend. However, many have charging rates of a slow trickle and don’t have much capacity even though they can be quite heavy. Also, many lose their power quite quickly, even when not charging. Jackery solves all these issues providing blazing fast charging, extremely lightweight, beefy capacity and can hold its power for six months.

The Mini: [$29.95] This is about the size of a lipstick tube and not much heavier, weighing just about 2.5 ounces and measuring 3.7″ x .9″ x .8″. Certainly easy enough to stash in a pocket or travel bag. Jackery claims that the mini is the world’s smallest external rechargeable battery. I love the size of this and perfect for a day of traveling when charging becomes a problem for your phone. Simply charge the mini by plugging into a USB port and four LED lights indicate power level. The sleek design and brushed metal feel absolutely great and extremely sturdy in your hand. The 1 Amp output is enough to quickly charge most devices. Packing 2,600 mAh you’ll get up to 50 hours of additional use out of your iPhone or similar devices.

The Bar: [$39.95] The Bar is mini’s big brother and about twice the size of The Mini. measuring 3.8″ x 1.8″ x .9″ and weighing a still light 5.4 ounces. I’ve been using The Bar for a couple weeks and couldn’t be happier with the results. Hands down the best portable battery I’ve ever used. Kicking out 2.1A of output, it is the world’s smallest portable battery with that much output. Your phone, tablet or other gadget will charge blazingly fast. With 5,600 mAh power capacity, you’ll be able to take your phone from empty to 100% charge several times. You can get well over 100 extra hours of use for most smartphones making at perfect for a multi-day trip when power will be a premium. In addition to charging, this one also sports an LED flashlight that illuminates brightly (can literally light up a dark room) for 450 hours. Wow! Just like the Mini, it feels sturdy, well made and looks great.

The Giant: [$59.95] If the Bar is the big brother, the Giant is the Grand-Daddy. This monster is still relatively light at 10 ounces and still portable at 4.3″ x 3.1″ x .8″. Packed into this device is 10,400 mAh with two output ports (one at 2.1A and one at 1A). There’s enough power in here to recharge an iPad from empty, several smartphones, and not even put a dent into the power. You can get up to 220 extra hours of operation from an iPhone which makes a perfect for a multi-day camping outing or hitting a multi-day music festival when charging could be an issue. The Giant also sports an LED flashlight.

All three devices have a few things in common:

  • You need to press a button to start charging after plugging your device in. This is part of their “power lock” technology which ensures that no power is lost when not actually charging. Several of the external batteries I’ve used in the past, trickle down a few percent every day when not in use. The quick button press may be inconvenient, especially if you forget to hit it when needing a quick charge, but I’ll trade that off any day knowing that they can hold their full charge in standby for up to six months.
  • They do come with a USB cord but it is relatively short – you may want to swap it out with a longer one to make charging more convenient.
  • There’s no AC plug built into the device so you have to charge via USB only. Charging is pretty quick for all of them but AC can sometimes be easier.
  • There’s advanced battery safety with four layers of protection ensuring safety for you and your devices.

Bottom Line: Again, there’s not much to say about portable batteries. Flimsy cases (my Mophie was RMA’ed three times when I had an iPhone), slow charging (.5A) and meager capacities are the norm for many alternatives. The Jackery products simply work. They are ruggedly made and look great. On top of that, for each size, they pack impressive output power and capacity. These are great batteries and you’d be well served to keep one in your travel kit.

Note: I just recently (like today) discovered a similar product to the Jackery Mini on one of my favorite websites: Monoprice. A very similar form factor and equal capacity and output. Only slightly longer but I haven’t evaluated this in person. For the frugal shoppers wanting to save an additional $10, the Battery Backup #9752 is worth consideration. I’ll check it out and update in a coming column.

Jackery Mini $29.95 on Amazon

Jackery Bar $39.95

Jackery Giant $59.95

New Trent iCarrier IMP120D Dual USB Power Pack

Roughly a dozen similar ultra-high-capacity batteries are being sold by reputable vendors these days, leaving iPad and iPhone users with two key decisions: how much they’re willing to pay, and how much extra battery life they really need for their devices. The batteries’ prices generally range from $70 to $130, with capacities varying from 6,000mAh to 12,000mAh; the former promises two or three recharges of an iPhone or iPod, while the latter can substantially or fully refuel certain iPads one time. These days, many of these batteries have two or three outbound USB ports should you want to share their power between multiple devices at once, and the best also include wall chargers so that you can refuel them quickly between uses. Having checked off all the right feature boxes, New Trent’s iCarrier IMP120D ($70) is a fascinating option, particularly because it’s now being sold at an incredibly appealing price point.

iCarrier’s appeal comes from three key factors. While the battery originally carried an MSRP of $120, it now officially retails for $70; most alternatives around this price point offer half as much battery power. In fact, New Trent’s 12,000mAh cell is one of the largest in the industry, eclipsing options from better-known brands we’ve covered over the past few years. Moreover, unlike almost all of its rivals, New Trent includes not only the battery, but also a wall charger to refuel it—an almost entirely positive feature.

Given these major assets, you’re probably wondering whether there’s any catch. There are three, but they’re not fatal to iCarrier’s appeal. One is the battery’s all-plastic construction: top rivals such as Just Mobile’s Gum Max Duo are made substantially but not entirely from metal, and sometimes include ruggedized exteriors to protect the cells from damage. iCarrier is similar to competitors such as Gum Max Duo in physical size but decidedly simpler in materials, interrupting a matte black plastic shell with a blue ring that runs across the center—a fine rather than great design. The ring contains two outbound USB ports, a power button, and a circular inbound recharging port. New Trent also includes a soft fabric carrying case and two USB cables that can’t be used with Apple devices; you’ll have to self-supply an Apple device charging cable, a common issue with many of the high-capacity batteries we’ve tested.

iCarrier’s wall adapter is the battery’s second issue: the only way to refuel iCarrier is to use New Trent’s charger, which uses a large proprietary circular plug rather than the micro-USB ports favored by competitors. The good news is that the wall adapter and battery work together to recharge at 2-Amp speeds, which is to say that iCarrier can go from empty to full in under eight hours rather than 16 or 32, a problem we’ve seen with a few big battery packs. If those recharging times seem inconceivable, that’s because 12,000mAh batteries can take longer than a full day to recharge using old USB ports; New Trent’s packed-in wall adapter guarantees that you won’t need to wait this long, but the plug design prevents you from refilling iCarrier without it.

While iCarrier’s industrial design isn’t fantastic, it’s entirely adequate. The otherwise simple rounded rectangular enclosure features a contoured power button on the same edge with the twin USB ports, and three small battery level indicators (“low,” “mid,” “high”) provide a sense of how much energy remains inside if you tap the power button, with the “low” light flashing as the battery comes close to the end of a charging cycle. This isn’t bad, but more deluxe high-capacity batteries have far more granular remaining power indicators that can help you manage your time better both during device and battery recharging. Another modest design issue is the somewhat confusing labeling of the battery’s ports, which are only labeled “Output 1” and “Output 2.” You’ll need to flip the battery over and look at its bottom to learn that Output 1 is capped at 1-Amp output—ideal for iPhones and iPods—while Output 2 is the higher peak speed 2.1-Amp port made for use with iPads. It wouldn’t have been too difficult to label the ports “1-Amp Output” and “2.1-Amp Output” for greater clarity.

iCarrier’s power performance was a bit better than expected. On average, we would expect a 12,000mAh battery to deliver a 69% recharge for a fourth-generation iPad, and iCarrier went a little beyond that, bringing the tablet from 25% to 96%—a 71% recharge in just over five hours. The original iPad, iPad 2, and iPad mini can get a full recharge from iCarrier; the third- and fourth-generation iPads will fall short, as they’re particularly power-hungry. iPhone users should expect four to five recharges from iCarrier, depending on the iPhone model they’re using; iPod users will generally see five or more. New Trent’s performance is only noteworthy because we’ve seen a few batteries in this class fall markedly below their promised recharging capacities, as well as their advertised speeds; thankfully, iCarrier’s peak recharging speeds were completely consistent with its 2.1-Amp claim.

Our only concern would be longevity. New Trent promises that iCarrier will last for over 500 recharge cycles, but the warranty is extremely limited—180 days if you bought directly from the company and registered the product, no warranty if purchased elsewhere or left it unregistered. Sketchy warranty policies aren’t surprising, particularly for batteries, but given that New Trent isn’t a particularly well-known vendor, you’ll have to decide whether to take the risk of failure. The low price may help make your decision easier.

There’s a lot to love about iCarrier: New Trent is offering an ultra-high-capacity battery pack that’s hard to fault as delivered. Its assets include best-of-breed capacity, highly aggressive pricing, and an included high-speed wall charger, while its issues are relatively modest—second-tier body materials, a proprietary refueling interface, and a lack of Apple-specific cables. While the warranty issues raise a bit of a red flag, particularly if you’re buying iCarrier through a third party vendor, these concerns are generally forgivable for the price, from our perspective. All things considered, iCarrier merits a modestly caveated A- rating and our high recommendation; give it very serious consideration if you’re looking for an ultra-high-capacity battery for your Apple device.

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Review: New Trent Travelpak battery pack

New Trent Travelpak battery pack

New Trent Travelpak battery pack

As the devices we carry grow more and more power hungry, so does our need to supplement them when we are away from outlets and car chargers. Because of this issue, external battery packs and cases of all shapes, sizes, and capacities have flooded the mobile accessory market over the past several years. I personally have a Mophie Juice Pack Helium for my iPhone 5, which  have been pretty happy with. However, the three other battery packs in my possession are far more underwhelming. Between them, they all have different charging connectors, different capacities, and one is even saddled with an old-school 30-pin dock connector. Thanks to their underwhelming performance, I barely pay attention to all of the new batteries that are coming out all the time.

Despite being a bit jaded on this subject, I did take notice of the announcement of New Trent’s Travelpak and Travelpak+ two weeks ago. In a category full of “me-too” items, here was a product that actually stood out. It has an integrated AC wall outlet connector for recharging without cables, high battery capacities in both models, and best of all, it will simultaneously charge two devices via its USB Outputs while recharging its own battery. In other words, this isn’t just another battery pack that results in a tangle of chords and won’t get your device all the way back to 100%. The New Trent Travelpaks can legitimately replace two different accessories in your gear bag, and for a road warrior like me, that’s worth taking notice of.

Design

Travelpak’s basic black design is very simple and non-descript, with only the logo and LED charging indicator standing out.

The AC wall outlet plug conveniently folds into the bottom of the Travelpak, making it much easier to carry and sit on flat surfaces while charging on the go.

The Travelpak has two USB Outputs on the bottom for charging whatever smartphones, media players, and accessories you may have with you.

Both of the Travelpak’s outputs are 1 Amp, while the Travelpak+ has one 1 Amp port, and one 2 Amp port for recharging larger devices, such as tablets.

The Travelpak has a single On/Off button on the right side.

This button enables the pak to recharge via the 2 USB outputs while unplugged from the wall. Note that, when the Travelpak is plugged into an AC outlet, there is no need to turn it on to charge via the outputs. It does so automatically.

Performance

When it comes to mobile chargers and backup batteries, design is nice, but performance is the only thing that really matters. Thankfully, this is where the Travelpak really delivers. First of all, as already mentioned, its versatility really makes it stand out. I used to carry a standard dual USB charger from Griffin in my gear bag every day, but since I got the Travelpak, this old charger has found its way to the drawer. Since the Travelpak can charge both my iPhone and iPad Mini both either at home or in the hotel room at night, and while out and about via its internal battery, there isn’t a need to carry a bunch of USB chargers around anymore. Now, I carry one extra Apple brick, and that’s it.

The real measure of the Travelpak is in its battery performance. Clocking in at 4000 mAh, the Travelpak has enough juice to charge any current iPhone at least three and a half times. So, you can plug two iPhones or iPod Touches in, completely recharge both of them, and still have some charge left over. Even better, the standard Travelpak has just enough juice to bring your iPad Mini back to life if its running low. Considering that I carry an iPhone 5 and an iPad Mini with me everyday, the Travelpak is a perfect fit. When I leave the house or hotel for the day, I know I’m covered.

For those who carry larger tablets with them on the go, the Travelpak+ is going to be the better choice. At 7000 mAh, it isn’t quite big enough to fully recharge an iPad 2-4, but it can get you from over 50% to 90%, depending on your device and your device’s current battery charge. Also, the addition of a 2.1 Amp USB Output is a big plus in general, as it will not only recharge a tablet in a reasonable amount of time, but also smartphones and smaller devices lightning fast.

 

Conclusion

I received a standard Travelpak for this review, and I came away impressed during my field testing. There were a few small minuses, however. First, the Travelpak is a bit bulky. While I believe its performance is worth the size and weight, it may not be the best choice for those who are looking for a small battery that can be carried around in their pocket.

Second, charging and recharging aren’t blazing fast. This may be a bit different with the Travelpak+, since it has a 2 Amp output, but the 1 Amp outputs aren’t going to set any speed records. However, as long as you give the Travelpak and your devices some time, such as overnight, to recharge.

Last, while the LED charge indicator is clear and easy to see, it’s maybe a bit too easy to see. It is quite bright, and since it is on the front of the Travelpak, it can be pretty annoying at night if you don’t prefer a night light. I have to find a spot for it that isn’t too exposed when I am in a hotel room, so it won’t keep me awake. This isn’t the end of the world, but it would have been nice if you could turn the LED off if you don’t prefer to see it at night.

Despite these small gripes, the New Trent Travelpak and Travelpak+ pass both the eye and performance tests. Also, at $44.95 and $54.95 respectively, the Travelpaks are also a good value. Many other battery packs with fewer features will run you more money, so the price is definitely right. While, there are definitely higher capacity batteries on the market, the Travelpaks win in my book due to the practical size, pass through charging, and reasonable price. At only $10 more, I would personally recommend the Travelpak+, due to its 2 Amp output, but either of these battery packs will make a fine choice for anyone looking for a versatile device to keep their mobile gadgets charged up, both at home and while away.

The New Trent Travelpak is available from New Trent for $44.95. The New Trent Travelpak+ is available from New Trent for $54.95.

The New Trent Travelpak was provided by New Trent for review on iSource. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the “About” page.

 

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RAVPower Qi-Enabled Wireless Charging Pad review

I hate cable-clutter, and oh how I do love wireless charging. It is a shame Apple has not led the way in this technology, and it is one of the many reasons I have recently switched from the iPhone 5 to the Galaxy Note 3 w/Qi-enabled back cover. I have tried the Nokia 901 Fatboy pillow, Brando, and TYLT stands but have yet to try a flat plastic plate/pad style Qi charger. When Julie asked if I would like to try the Qi-enable wireless charging pad by RAVPower…my response was “but of course!!!”

RAVPower wireless charger

RAVPower wireless charger

RAVPower includes the Qi pad, microUSB cable, USB power plug, and instruction manual.

Specification:

  • Output 5V, 1A max
  • InputDC 5V, 1.5A
  • Weight 4.5oz
  • Size 5.7″ x 3.11″ x 0.31″
RAVPower wireless charger

RAVPower wireless charger

The RAVPower Qi-enabled wireless charging pad is nicely constructed from a strong, glossy plastic. It is a little smaller than my Note 3 and weighs in at 4.5 oz – ideal for your nightstand, desk, tech-travel companion, etc. The ring in its center is rubber and is designed to hold your device in place. It is powered via microUSB cable, which is very convenient compared to other Qi-chargers that use a proprietary cable interface.

The RAVPower wireless charging mat works very well. Where some of the other Qi chargers I have used took a few tries to get my smartphone perfectly placed, I have yet to have that issue with this simple, yet effective accessory.

The PAVPower pad has an indicator light at its base that is constantly red when plugged in and ready to charge. Once you place your Qi-enabled device on it, the indicator light flashes red/white. It also makes a single electronic beep when you set your device down, letting you know everything is properly situated and your battery is being charged. Because of its built-in energy saver, once your smartphone or tablet is charged or removed from the RAVPower mat, it automatically goes into idle mode.

The RAVPower Qi-enabled wireless charging pad is also available in black.

RAV is an acronym for Reliable Affordable Value and in the case of RAVPower’s Qi charging pad, that is a fair and true statement. While not in the shape of a pillow or stand, the RAVPower Qi charging pad, mat, plastic slab or whatever you call it definitely gets the job accomplished.

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