Gadling Gear Review: Mobius Solar iPhone Battery/Charger

I kind of hate how much I love my iPhone. It’s not right and yes, I’m addicted to it and shut up, don’t you have something else to give me a hard time about? Like my social media addiction, which also, you could leave me alone about because it’s a critical part of how I make a living, so back off already.

Plus, it was super cool when, thanks to the wonders of my phone, a roaming data plan, and the fact that Tanzania is dotted with cell phone towers even though there seemed to be a scarcity of power outlet, I could shoot video of the landscape in the Serengeti or the road to Arusha and then, whoa, upload it so my pals on Twitter could see it, like, right away. That’s just freaking magical.

The thing is, that social media/cell phone addiction keeps me tethered to a power source and that can be kind of limiting. Hey, even when you’re in a highly developed place, sometimes the rental car doesn’t have an outlet and you forgot your car charger and you’ve burned up your battery trying to find directions to the B&B. What I’m saying is this: It’s easy to chew through the juice you’ve got on your phone and not always easy to re-juice it.

I actively disliked the last solar charger I tried, it didn’t work well as a case and it took too long to grab what limited power we get from the sun in the winter at home. I was keen to try out something new, that’s how I ended up with the solar iPhone charger/case/battery from Mobius. I like this one considerably better, but it’s still got some flaws.

First, the good stuff. It works well as a case. It’s got a fairly efficient solar panel compared to the other model I tried. It charges over a standard mini to USB connector so you can use your laptop or that little USB plug thingy that comes with your iPhone to charge it. It’s a little bulky, but because you can use it to hold your phone, it’s not just some random extra gadget kicking around. It doubles the usage you get out of your phone — nice if you’re shooting video, uploading fat files, playing lots of music and podcasts, the “beyond phone calls” stuff that keeps junkies like me handcuffed to our cell phone overlords.Now, the stuff I didn’t love. I keep wanting these things to be smaller — it’s a little bulky. I realize I may be just waiting for the future, I’m aware of that. The phone gets confused if I connect the charger cable while the case is in it and tells me that “charging isn’t supported.” This means if I want to charge the batter via an outlet, I have to remove the phone. I wish it used the connector that Apple uses because man, I am tired of dragging hundreds of yards of connector cables around the planet.

All that said, I think the Mobius charger is a great improvement over my last test run on a similar gadget. And I love that fact that it helps free me from the dearth of outlets that’s a scourge on my power and media addicted soul. If I’ve got the case out in daylight, it’s doing its bit to recharge and keep me connected. I like that. Whether that’s a good thing or not is another issue entirely, but as far as enabling my addiction goes, this device is doing its job.

Shop around. If you buy it directly from the folks that make it, it’s about 80 dollars, but I’ve seen it for 60 in other online markets.

Review: Cell Drive pocket battery pack + built in storage

In this review we’ll take a closer look at the Cell Drive. Cell Drive is a product that took me entirely by surprise, thanks to its 4-in-1 feature lineup. Inside Cell Drive is a 400mAh battery pack, 4GB of memory, an inline syncing option and a universal charging option.

The Cell Drive itself is only a bit bigger than your average USB memory drive, but with this single gadget, you can keep your mobile devices charged, carry important files and sync your phone.

The product has three different plugs – one regular USB jack for charging the battery and accessing the internal memory drive. One for plugging into MiniUSB devices (or others when used with an adapter plug) and a universal power jack (as seen above).
cell drive

Included with the Cell Drive is a carrying pouch, protective caps and power plugs for MicroUSB and Apple devices. When used with the power tips, you can only charge – not sync. Additional plugs are available that turn the MiniUSB into other plugs, which enables the ability to sync and charge.

Three LED’s show the battery charging status, and a switch lets you charge phones that require special charging circuitry.

After several weeks on the road with the Cell Drive I have to admit that it really is a smart little product. The internal battery pack may not be enough to fully charge your phone, but it’ll certainly power it long enough to make a couple of phone calls or to check your email. It is compact, and the price is low enough that it is easy to justify as one of those “must carry” gadgets. With its internal memory, you can carry (encrypted) copies of important files, or scans of your passport or other documents.

Cell Drive is available with 4GB and 8GB of storage space. The 4GB version retails for $49.95 and the 8GB is $59.95. They are available directly from the retailer or from Amazon.com.

Review: Technocel Universal PowerPak – the last phone charger you’ll ever need

As the title describes – the Technocel Universal Power Pak may be the last mobile charger you ever need. The PowerPak is two devices in one – a regular wall charger and a 1000mAh battery backup pack – both in a unit no bigger than the size of a regular mobile charger. What this means is that you can use it when plugged into AC power to charge your device, and keep charging when you unplug the unit. The 1000mAh battery should be enough for at least a 75% charge of most mobile phones.

Now, devices like this are not exactly new, what sets the PowerPak apart from other devices we’ve reviewed is that it comes with almost every power adapter plug on the market. Included in the box is a USB cable, and ten different plugs. You get connectors for phones from Palm, HTC, Motorola, LG, Casio, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and more. With this assortment, you’ll have what you need to power and charge almost every phone out there. If the tip is not included (like with the iPhone), you simply use the existing cable and plug it into the USB of the charger.

And the designers didn’t stop there – they also include a carrying pouch for all those plugs AND were kind enough to label all the connectors, so you don’t need to find the right one through trial and error. The charger provides 1A of juice, so it is capable of charging almost any mobile device.

The charger itself operates on 100V-240V, so you’ll be able to use it all around the world, provided you use the correct foreign plug adapter. The Technocel PowerPak retails for $49.99 but you’ll find it online for as little as $36.

Regular readers will know that I love chargers like this – and I’m impressed how Technocel took the concept beyond just supplying a charger. The assortment of power plugs means your investment is safe for years to come.

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Review: Kensington Pocket Battery for Smartphones – leave your cords at home!

In their Fall 2010 product lineup, Kensington released several new innovative products. One of the new products that got my attention is the Pocket Battery for Smartphones. Now, regular readers will no doubt know that a pocket battery pack is by no means new, but the Kensington is the first one I’ve come across that does not require any cords or adapters to use.

On the sides of the charger, you’ll find MiniUSB and MicroUSB cords, and a regular USB charge cord is on the rear.

Inside the charger is a 1200mAh battery pack, which is enough to give most smartphones one full charge when you are on the road. The battery pack itself is very compact, and weighs just 1.76 ounces.

The new Kensington Pocket Battery for Smartphones is available directly from Kensington for $39.99, but is already on sale at Amazon for just $29.99. If you have a smartphone that uses Micro or Mini USB, and regularly need a bit of a battery boost, this product could be your new best friend.

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Just Mobile Gum Plus battery backup pack review

Here on Gadling you may have noticed a trend in my reviews – I have a strange addiction to anything that can power my gadgets. This addiction comes from sad memories of dead gadgets, and being “on the road” with a bunch of products with “low battery” messages. So, hence the abundance of products that can keep things powered. In today’s review, I’ll introduce you to the “Just Mobile Gum Plus”. Yes – the name is rather weird, because there is very little about this product that resembles gum.

The Gum Plus is an external battery pack – but unlike some of the others that paid Gadling a visit, this one excels in capacity and good looks. Inside the Gum Plus is a 4,400 mAH battery – more about that later. The good looks come from some polished aluminum, not unlike that found on Apple laptops.
The Gum Plus has just one button, five LED lights and two power ports. The button has a single function – to show the battery status. The five LED’s show charging status when plugged in. One of the power ports is the input, the other is the output – it doesn’t get much simpler than that.

Included in the box of the Gum Plus is a carrying case, an iPod/iPhone charging cable and a MiniUSB device cable, which doubles as a charger cord for the battery pack itself. To charge, you simply plug the unit into any USB port or USB power source. This can be a PC, laptop, wall USB charger or even a car USB port.

Given the high capacity of this battery pack, it takes a couple of hours to reach a full charge, but this speed obviously depends on the performance of the power source as well.

As I mentioned in the opening, the Gum Plus has a 4,400 mAH battery pack. What this means in real life is that most gadgets will get up to four full charges when hooked up to the unit. This is a huge advantage over most other chargers, which usually offer just half of this (the highest we reviewed here on Gadling was the 6000 mAH Zagg Sparq).

The output capacity of the Gum Plus is 5 Volts/1 Amp – which means it can charge an iPhone at “full speed”, unlike some other chargers that can only power it, and not charge.

The Gum Plus retails for $69.99 – which is very much in line with the retail price of many other battery packs – despite offering a much higher capacity. Unfortunately, the unit does not come with its own AC or car chargers, which would have made it an even better deal (but would probably have raised its price).

All in all there is little more to add about this product – in my tests, it performed exactly as it should, the design is nice and sleek, and the internal battery really did keep my phone going in line with its rated capacity.

The target audience for products like this is obviously anyone who may be away from a regular power outlet. The Gum Plus can keep an iPhone or iPod Touch playing video or music for an entire long haul flight, and can power a Blackberry or Android phone for 3 or 4 times its normal battery life. If you usually get 2 full days from your phone battery, the Gum Plus may be able to extend that to a full week.

You’ll find more information about the Gum Plus on the web site of Just Mobile, where you’ll also find a retailer locator.