Gadling Gear Review: Justin Case Rechargeable iPad Battery Case

Justin Case iPad recharger
Innovative Technologies

A few weeks back we reviewed the Props Power case for the iPad, which features a built-in battery that can greatly extend the life of your tablet while on the road. At the time, I thought that it was a unique product that delivered on its promise with the trade-off of also adding a considerable amount of thickness and weight. It turns out that case wasn’t quite as unique as I had originally thought, as there is another option available that offers similar performance in a slightly less bulky package and at a considerable savings. Two things that are difficult to argue against.

The Justin Case Rechargeable Power Case from Innovative Technology is designed to fit the iPad 2 and the iPad with Retina Display. It holds the tablet snugly while providing very good protection from accidental drops or the usual wear and tear that comes along with travel. Made from soft faux leather, the case has a nice feel to it, although no one is likely to ever mistake it for real leather. As you would expect, when seated properly inside the case, the iPad’s various buttons and cameras are unobstructed, allowing full access to all of the tablet’s features. A durable flap covers the screen and is cleverly held in place by a pair of strategically placed magnets. This is a nice touch that provides a little extra protection to the fragile display. A fold out stand on the back of the case also allows you to prop up your device, which comes in very handy when watching videos or making a Facetime call.

One of my main knocks against the Props Power case was that it added a lot of thickness to the otherwise thin and sleek iPad. That is somewhat unavoidable for any case that has a bulky battery built into its form factor and this model is no different. I will say, however, that the Justin Case is thinner than the competition; this makes it a bit easier to compromise portability for extended battery life. This isn’t a product that would ever be described as thin and light, but considering the fact that its target audience is likely to know this ahead of time, I’d say it does a fine job of balancing expectations on all fronts.At the heart of this case is an 11,600-mAh battery, which is slightly smaller than the one found in the Props Power case, but still manages to perform on a similar level. The battery includes a micro-USB port for recharging and a standard USB port for passing that charge on to other devices. Innovative Technologies says that the battery is capable of providing a full recharge to a third generation iPad, the model that I was testing it on. I didn’t find that it was quite capable of putting out that much juice, however, delivering something closer to a 75-percent recharge level. Still, that’s not bad at all and should add an additional seven hours to the life of your tablet.

Justin Case rechargeable iPad case
Innovative Technology

Since the battery has a standard USB port it can be used to recharge just about any modern device. That means while you’re traveling you can use the case to juice up your smartphone, a camera, iPod or a variety of other gadgets. Most will charge about as quickly as they will when plugged into a wall outlet, but higher capacity devices such as the 3rd and 4th generation iPad or similar tablets charge at a much slower rate, which can be disappointing when you really want your iPad fully charged and ready to hit the road.

The Justin Case has its competition beat in a couple of other areas as well. For instance, the Props Power case comes with a charging cable but no power adapter. That means you have to provide your own AC adapter or charge directly from your computer. This case comes with a nice USB wall plug that looks strikingly like Apple’s own iPhone charger only in black. I appreciate the fact that Innovative Technologies saw fit to include it in the box, eliminating the hurdle of finding a way to keep their product charged at all times.

The other area in which the Justin Case has a hands-down advantage is price. While it performs at a very similar level with its competition, it costs $50 less. Innovative Technology has priced their product at $70, which feels like a very fair price for a case that offers the ability to not only charge the tablet that it protects but just about any other device as well. That is a nice convenience to have when you own a smartphone whose battery doesn’t quite make it completely through the day when there isn’t a free outlet anywhere in sight.

While the Justin Case does come with a micro-USB cable that is capable of charging not only its batteries, but also other devices that use that format, if you’re an Apple-fan you’ll need to supply your own 30-pin or lightning cable. That is a small quibble for an otherwise solid product but one that buyers should be aware of before they plunk down their hard-earned cash.

If you’re a frequent traveler who spends a lot of time searching for a power outlet at the airport, the Justin Case may be the answer to your prayers. While it is just an average case on its own, the inclusion of the built-in battery gives it a unique quality that few other products can match. The fact that it does so at an affordable price truly sets it out from the crowd. An iPad equipped with this case could survive a full flight across the Pacific with power to spare, which is a pretty impressive feat really. This case will let you load up your device with all of the movies, music and games you’d like without worrying about running out of power at an inopportune time.

Airports Add Free Power For Electronics, Vehicles

free powerUsing free power to charge electronic devices before boarding a flight is a popular activity. Airlines and airports know that and are adding more charging stations all the time. The same goes for electric vehicle travelers who might drive to the airport. As more environmentally friendly cars hit the streets, airports are adding charging stations for them too, also a complimentary service.

“Delta’s addition of power stations at airport gates has been cited by PCWorld magazine as an important aspect of travel and improving the customer experience,” said Wayne Aaron, Vice President, Marketing Programs and Distribution Strategy at Delta Airlines in a Travel Daily News article this week.

Delta is adding at least two power stations per gate power in 12 additional U.S. cities before the end of the year including Anchorage, Alaska; Austin, Texas; Denver; Dallas/Ft. Worth; Houston Intercontinental; Kansas City, Missouri; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; New Orleans; Ontario, California; Philadelphia; Phoenix; and Syracuse, New York.

“Customers today are savvy travelers who bring their smartphones, computers and tablets with them,” says Aaron. “Providing a power source they can use before they get on a long flight helps them do what they need to do in the air, whether for work or pleasure.”Electrical Vehicle Charging Stations are becoming more plentiful too. Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport is typical of airports with charging stations where spaces are reserved for electric vehicles only. Each station is capable of charging two vehicles simultaneously with 240V connectors. There is no fee to use the stations, but regular parking rates apply.

ChargePoint is the largest online charging network in the world, connecting drivers to charging stations in more than 14 countries. ChargePoint service plans are compatible with charging stations from any manufacturer and yes, they have an app to find stations close by, make, view and cancel reservations. As they pass through security, at the gate or in the air with their Wi-Fi connected devices, users can view charging stats while their car charges and get notification when fully charged.




[Flickr photo by gillyberlin]

USBCELL rechargeable AA batteries recharge using USB

Sorry for the silly title, but there is no easier way to describe this product. USBCELL batteries are regular AA batteries, with a removable cap and USB jack. We mentioned these neat batteries back in 2007, and I recently took a set for a real test.

The batteries are nickel metal hydride, like most rechargeable batteries, but their capacity is a relatively weak 1300mAH. Most rechargeable batteries I have here are 2000mAh or higher. Still, if you have a low power gadget that you really don’t want to be without, switching to USBCELL batteries could be a convenient way of saving yourself if you forget your battery charger or can’t find a 24 hour drugstore in the area.

To charge, you simply pop the cap off and plug them into any USB power source. This can be your computer, game console or a powered USB hub or anything else with a USB port. The cap is attached with a small elastic strap, so you are not at risk of losing it. An LED indicator on the battery lets you know when it is charging, and when the charging cycle is complete.

USBCELL batteries retail for $17.99 per pair, including shipping (from the UK). They are also available at REI, Brookstone, Batteries+, Amazon.com and Buy.com. I find it hard to complain about the price, because the batteries are so well designed, and I’m sure there are people out there who can benefit from batteries that can be charged using USB.

To learn more about these batteries, or to order some for yourself, head on over to usbcell.com.

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