Gadgets

External Battery Charger Spotlight

 
My wife and I each own a Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD. Battery life is not an issue for us; the Maxx HD comes with a 3300 mAh battery, easily allowing well over a full day’s worth of constant usage. We each also have a tablet; me, a Google Nexus 7, and my wife a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.
 
With all these devices scattered about, 2 kids, and the need to have power constantly at our disposal, an external battery charger often becomes necessary. You’d be surprised at how quickly a battery can drain in a just a few hours of being out of the house and away from any outlets.
 
As luck would have it, I was presented with an opportunity to review a few different external battery packs. I’m going to highlight the different ones I received here today, and why the guy who probably never needed an external battery pack now will not travel without one.
 
I don’t know how many people out there are like me when it comes to your mobile device’s battery life, but I happen to be one of those really annoying people that need for their devices to always have more than 50% charge at all times. If I’m not out and about, my phone is always plugged in either to my computer or the charging cable. As soon as my battery indicator shows that I’m discharging, I develop this irrational need to plug it in. It’s mostly a weird OCD quirk that doesn’t really affect the actual performance of my phone at all.
 
I guess what I’m trying to say is even though I have a phone that can easily last me an entire day with regular use, the battery life is still something that I think about all the damn time.
 
External batteries are a dime a dozen, but they need to meet a few criteria in order to be worth it to me: 1) portability, and 2) speed of charge. USB ports are everywhere these days, so it’s not like plugging your phone in with the USB cable is going to be a particularly difficult thing to do. If it takes longer to charge via the external battery than the cable, then what’s the point? Other than those two points, I’m not too picky.
 
The first products I received were the Powerocks Magic Cube and Rose Stone chargers. The two units have the same 6000mAh battery, meaning for my phone I can get approximately 2 charges, and for phones like an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy, you can get 3-4 charges. The main difference between the two units is that the Magic Cube comes with two built in USB output cables (one standard, and one micro-USB) that can be tucked away under one of the edges.
 
portable power
 
The Rose Stone charger does not have built in cables, but it does come with one separate micro-USB cord and three ports on the charger itself (two standard USB, one micro). It’s also a thinner and slightly longer device, though the overall difference in size is tiny at best. I’d be surprised if you found one or the other to be “too big” or “too small” when comparing them with one another. With this unit, you get a set of LED lights at one end which flash while you’re charging, and which also light up to let you know how much of a charge you have left.
 
powerbank2
 
The Magic Cube might be a thicker unit, but calling it “bigger” is not entirely accurate. It’s still small, portable, and light enough to carry around in a pocket with no issues. It comes with the aforementioned USB cables built-in to one side, which pretty solves the issue of having to pack a separate cable and also trying to find one when you need a charge. The LED charge indicator lights are also present along one side, though they are laid out in a straight line as opposed to the Rose Stone’s staggered look. It’s really up to your preference.
 
Astro3
 
The third and final charger I received is the Anker Astro 3 12000mAh external battery. Delivering an insane amount of recharge ability, the Astro3 is the unit that I carry around with me simply for the fact that I carry multiple devices around at any given time. With its huge capacity, the Astro3 can charge my phone, tablet, PS Vita, and Zune….and each of them more than once. It also has a neat little feature where simply shaking the device will start the charge or display the power level when nothing is plugged in. A little light shows you exactly how much of a charge you have left, and nothing else, other than the USB ports (more on that), blemishes the look of the unit. It’s all very clean and smooth looking with no buttons.
 
Astro3-2
 
The Astro3 comes with 4 ports; 1 Smart USB port, 2 Universal USB ports, and one micro-USB input port to charge the external battery itself. The Smart port detects USB pin signals to detect your device to deliver a faster charge at full speed. It is compatible with pretty much with any of the devices I have lying around at home; a good mix of Apple, Motorola, Samsung, Sony, and Microsoft. And with the additional two ports, you can plug in multiple devices and continue about your work.
 
As far as size goes, this is where the Astro3 takes a bit of a hit (if portability is a concern for you). It’s a fairly large piece of equipment, and it’s pretty heavy as well. It is definitely something that would add a noticeable amount of weight to a purse or satchel, so take that as you will. For me personally, I tossed it in my messenger bag (which is already laden with things like notebooks, tablets, my Vita and 3DS, etc.) so the extra weight was not really something that I noticed too badly.
 
Each of these three external batteries would be a good buy for anyone needing extra juice for their mobile devices. Looking only for something for your phone and need a small, light charger? Go with the Powerocks Rose Stone charger (currently $35.05 on Amazon). Looking for the same small, portable charger, but don’t want to deal with the hassle of looking for the right cable all the time? The Powerocks Magic Cube is for you (currently $47.42 on Amazon). If size and weight are not an issue for you and you simply the beefiest, most powerful and quickest charge, then go with the Anker Astro3 (currently $49.99 on Amazon). Either way, enjoy the freedom that comes with extended use for all your devices!