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.


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.

Power your iPhone (and other gadgets) for up to a week – Gadling reviews the ZAGGsparq

Portable backup power gadgets are nothing new. We’ve covered a whole bunch of them here, but today’s battery pack is something really special. Most power packs have the capacity for one or two full charges of your portable gadget, so imagine how cool it would be if you carried something capable of making your iPhone (or other device) last for up to a week.

This review will introduce you to the ZAGGsparq. The ZAGG name probably rings a bell, they are better known for their excellent device protection film, and their recently introduced ZAGGbox multimedia hub.

The ZAGGsparq looks like your everyday power brick. It features folding prongs, 2 USB ports, a button and 4 LED’s. It is what is inside the ZAGGsparq that makes it so handy – an AC charger (suitable for 100V-240V outlets) and a 6000mAh Lithium-Polymer battery pack. If that number doesn’t make any sense, all you need to know is that the battery in the iPhone 3G is 1150mAh. This means you can get up to five full iPhone charges from the ZAGGsparq.
Using the ZAGGsparq

Using the ZAGGsparq is just like using any regular USB charger – you plug your device(s) into the USB port, and plug the unit into the wall. When you need power on the go, you just plug them directly into the unit, and skip the outlet.

Despite its high capacity, the unit weighs just 8.4 ounces. This is obviously heavier than the original iPhone charger (which is tiny), but when you travel a lot, being able to keep your phone going this long is invaluable. Just imagine a powerpack that can keep your iPhone playing video for up to 50 hours non-stop, or even as much as 150 hours of music.

The investment

The price of such a luxury is fairly steep – the ZAGGsparq sells for $99.99 (down from its normal price of $129.99). If you never find yourself with a dead phone, then spending $100 isn’t going to make much sense. But if you have ever been stuck at the airport, or mid-flight with a dead device, you’ll find the investment pretty simple to justify.

Of course, the ZAGGsparq isn’t just for the iPhone – it’ll work with any device that can be charged over USB. This includes all Blackberries, iPods, many digital cameras and game consoles and anything else with a compatible USB charger cord. It will not power your laptop or netbook, for that you’ll need to invest in something like the Tekkeon MyPower All.

Final thoughts

There is very little not to like about a device that promises to keep your gadgets going. The weight is not too bad, it has two USB ports and it works on any international power supply (assuming you carry your own plug adapters). Included with the unit is a European (mainland) plug adapter, but no USB cables.

My only minor issue with the device is that the fourth power status LED never seems to stay on – even when I have not used the device. After a full charge, I have all four lights, but after a couple of hours it always drops to three. Still, it has not impacted its power capacity (at least not that I have noticed) and in my tests, it really does deliver on its promise – my iPhone 3GS has been charged every night on the ZAGGsparq for the past 4 nights, without the need for a wall outlet.

PROS: Huge battery capacity, dual USB ports, worldwide power compatibility
CONS: Possibly unreliable battery indicator

Product page: ZAGGsparq

Charge your gadgets with or without an outlet – the iGo Charge Anywhere Gadling review

When it comes to powering my gadgets, and keeping them powered, I’m a bit of a freak. See, I have this deep hatred for gadgets that don’t have the battery life to stay working as long as I need them to. There is something sad about a $600 phone that dies halfway through the day, or a media player that can’t last through a long haul flight.

This is where the iGo Charge Anywhere can help. This 2-port USB wall charger has a secret – hidden inside the device is an 1800mAh battery pack. The combination of this AC charger and battery means you can power and charge two gadgets whether you have an outlet or not. The battery is powerful enough to get most gadgets back to 100%, or up to two full charges for smaller devices like an iPod or Bluetooth headset.

The charger is the same size as any “normal” USB wall charger, and comes with a USB to iGo tip cable. This allows you to carry just one cable, and an assortment of iGo power tips. These tips are available for almost every gadget on the market.

Of course, since the charger has normal USB ports, you can also use any USB charging cable included with your gadget.

The charger provides enough power for small gadgets like portable gaming consoles, phones and media players, and obviously does not have the oomph to power and charge your laptop.

The power rating of the iGo Charge Anywhere allows you to use it anywhere in the world as it supports 100V-240V. Of course, you’ll still need the appropriate plug adapter if you plan to use it in a non-US socket.

Operating the iGo Charge Anywhere is as simple as can be – plug your devices into one of the two USB ports, and plug it into an AC outlet. When you don’t have an outlet available, you just plug your devices in and press the power button on the unit.

Because the iGo Charge Anywhere is part of the new iGo Green lineup, it has a built in circuit to eliminate “vampire power”. This means the charger will completely turn off when it senses it has fully charged your gadgets. This means it won’t draw any power at all once it has done its work. The power savings may not be very big, but every tiny bit counts.

Pros: Works on any voltage, double USB charging ports, integrated battery pack, very compact
Cons: Relatively weak battery pack, only one power tip included

The iGo Charge Anywhere costs $49.99 and is available directly from iGo. The purchase price includes one free power tip (worth about $8).

Product page: iGo Charge Anywhere

Five ways to make long flights more productive

Every business traveler has said or heard: “I’ll get to it on the plane.” By the time your bags are stowed safely overhead, however, it occurs to you that the flight won’t be long enough for everything on your list. The problem I’ve seen is that most business travelers don’t use this distraction-free environment as effectively as they could. If you could get more out of your flights, you’ll have more elbow room in your schedule when you touch down. So, here are five ways to help you get the biggest bang for your time on board.

1. The flight starts at the gate
While you’re waiting to board, find a power outlet, and plug in. pick up a wireless connection, and take care of e-mails. This seems obvious, but distractions can encroach. When you’re going through your inbox, focus on anything that seems most likely to matter when you’re on the plane: reassess your priorities. The unimportant can wait (or be addressed via Blackberry when you’re waiting for the door to close).

2. Get an extra battery
I’m still amazed at how many times I’ve seen business travelers shut down because the juice is gone. Ask your employer for an extra battery – you’ll have a few more hours of high-octane work time.

3. Print what doesn’t have to be electronic
This is especially true if you can’t score that extra battery. Do on paper what can be done on paper, and save the battery life for work that must be done on your laptop. You’re effectively increasing the value of your battery.

4. Set goals
Don’t try to deal with everything. Determine what you want to accomplish on the flight, and zero in on it. If you have time left over, you can work on other things (or, better, sleep). Be realistic when you define your objectives. If you aren’t, you’ll be perpetually frustrated.

5. Know when to stop
If you’re close to exhaustion or just can’t get your mind to work, take the hint. A plane isn’t the ideal office environment). Close your laptop. Put down your pen. Ask for some pill water, and let someone else suffer at your expense for a change!