Portable chargers reviewed.

richardcpf

Well-known member
Joined
May 23, 2008
Messages
1,281
Apart from being a flashaholic, I'm a big fan of every gadget that is portable. In this thread I will test and review many units of portable power supplies, also known as portable chargers.

Most of them use Li-ion or LiPoly cells, and intelligent internal circuity like those found in 18650s. By using a DC-DC converter they are able to provide 5-5.5v most of them through a USB port. Anyone who owns a cellphone, gps, mp3 player, or whatever gadget that charges by USB port should keep one portable charger in case of any emergency.

I'm bit short of time right now so I will review one by one and keep this thread updated.

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Portable Power Supply + High Power LED Torch
Focalprice, $15
★★★

This is a compact and handy charger, and has a very unique feature which I like a LOT. Instead of a internal square li-ion battery, it uses a removable, swappable 18650 cilindrical cell. Has a single female USB port used to both charge and recharge.

Comes with:
-Flashlight module. this is actually one of the most unique USB gadget I've seen, by drawing around 1 watt it delivers the same or a bit more overall output than my Fenix TK11 in LOW. The head is made of Al and uses a generic 1W led emitter and TIR lenses. Beam is rather uncentered and blueish, not flashaholic-grade but definetly great for emergencies.
-Standard retractable USB-DC cable with nokia old, nokia newm mini usb, ipod and sony ericsson adapters.
-The included one is non-protected, "2200mah", actually is more like 1800mah acording to a runtime test I did.

Pros:
-VERY high charging rate. a standard usb port will provide [email protected], but this charger draws about 1.2A from the 18650 and fully charges my nokia phone in less than 1 hour. Battery is 1050mah capacity.
-Seems to detect batery capacity and the charging rate if variable depending on what you charge. It drew 0.24A when charging a small mp3 player with a 300mah battery.
-You could carry many 18650 to get more charges. battery swappable at any time.
-Flashlight module is pretty bright and useful indoors.
-Single button to on/off, 4 leds shows the remaining power. but not accurate at all.
-While you can charge the 18650 by connecting a USB cable to the device, it will take a long time to fully charge, up to 8 hours. Edit: First I though this charger did not have any kind of overcharge protection. But it actually does, I used a good 18650 and it terminate the charge at 4.17v. Seems like the included battery is defective. Also the charge time was reduced to 8 hours. 1 more star for this.

Cons:
-Limited compatibility.
-Wont fit protected 18650.
-May be difficult to use for some.

Will and won't charge:
Will: nokia, sony ericsson, blackberry cellphones, mp3 players, older ipod.
Won't: newer ipod/iphone, xmini portable speaker.

Worth the money?
Yes, as long as your device is compatible, enables quickly charging your cellphone in any emergency. included 18650 isnt the best quality, I recommend you using a higher capacity and more reliable one.

Flashlight head on
p1010438g.jpg


Charging my nokia phone, included 18650. This is not the included cable, I never use those, cheap cables may damage your devices.
p1010443c.jpg


Beamshot
p1010439t.jpg

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2600mAh Solar Charger with LED Flashlight for iPod iPhone 3G
Dinodirect, $34
★★★★

Charge with sunlight, store the power in a internal li-ion 2800mah battery and power up your devices whenever you want. Sounds good right? While being a theorically perfect charger, it has been a major dissapointment. I dont know why there are so many good reviews on the product page.

Comes with:
-MiniUSB-USB cable with nokia old, nokia newm mini usb, ipod and sony ericsson adapters.
-Generic USB wall charger.

Pros:
-Can charge with sunlight and usb port.
-Has a 5mm led, bright as a fauxton.
-Green led indicated when it is charging with sunlight, but will lit even if its charging at 10ma.

Cons:
-Cables are a joke. included cable is miniusb-female USB. It broke within 6 days and you can't buy another one. Using adapters wont work. Now I have a useless solar charging 5mm led flashlight. I could make another cable, but thats not the point. The tips are also low quality and they fit loose.
-SLOW solar charging. After 8 hours under strong sun, will only provide 1 of 8 bars to my nokia cellphone. Not even enough to make a 2 minute call. I could charge my empty phone for 10 minutes and get the same power.
-2800mah internal battery? No more than 1400mh I would say, fully charged my phone once and was almost empty.
-User selectable 3.7, 4.2, 5.5 and 9v output is confusing, some devices need exactly 5v, no more no less. This could harm your device if not used correctly.
-Doesnt charge nearly anything.
-Shut itself down for no reason.
-Not well built , ports and switches are loose.

Will and won't charge:
Will: newer nokia, sony ericsson cellphones, iphone only when battery is full.
Won't: ipod, blackberry, bluetooth headset, xmini speaker, older nokia phones.

Worth the money?
NO. A solar charger this slow is useless for emergencies, will charge over time, but it is dangerous to expose it under sunlight for extended periods. Low capacity, cheap construction, cant use other cables, difficult to use, etc. Will probably harm your device.

nbcvmnm.png


p1010451.jpg


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2*AA Powered USB Emergency Battery Charger with Flashlight Function for All iPod/iPhone 2G/3G
Dealextreme, $5
★★★

A portable emergency charger that runs off AA batteries, alkalines, nimh, and lithium (1.7v). Solidly built and easy to use. First time I see a charger this cheap that works as advertised.

Comes with:
Nothing else, just the charger. But for $4.85, should you expect more?

Pros:
-Easy to use. The USB port is universal and it will charge anything you plug into.
-Correct charging rate. See below
-Integrated 5mm led, but pretty weak with nimh.
-Red led indicate if the device is turned on
-Works with all kinds of AA size batteries, except 14500 of course.
-Device will turn off when batteries reach around 1V.

Cons:
-Weak flashlight, but should a flashaholic be worried about this?

Will and won't charge:
Will: Was able to charge all my devices just like with the computer USB port.
Won't: ?

Charging rate is variable, depending on the cable. With a charging cable from another device, it was drawing 2.5A from 2 fully charged eneloop, 2.6v, thats right, more than 6 watts. :eek: It got very hot and I turned it off. Strange thing is, this same cable worked wonderfuly on other chargers and even on the computer USB. this is why I rated it 5 stars and not 6.

Using another cable, the original one that came with the cellphone, it drew 0.85A only, which is the correct charging rate. So be careful with the cable you use, not all of them are compatible, and I recommend always using the original cable to recharge.

With 2 fully charged eneloops you should expect a single full charge to a regular 1100mah cellphone battery.

As I mentioned above, The 5mm led is very weak in my both chargers, 1 lumen at best, with eneloop.

V= 2.69v
I= 0.38ma
P= 0.00102mw

So if you let the LED turned on it will run continously for aproximate 4700 hours on two eneloops, that is six months. We could reduce the runtime to 5 months due to battery discharge. :twothumbs I wish my flashlights for this ultra low mode.

I also measured the standy current if turned to usb mode but nothing connected:

Eneloop:
2.7v, 1.2ma

So it is ok if you accidentally turned it on USB while not charging anything.

Worth the money?
YES, for this price I could not ask more. However, not all cables are compatible and you should test before using them.

p1010460.jpg

__________________

Coming up: few DX chargers, energizer xp200, xp18000, veho pebble, newtrent imp50d, imp880, musicpower encore, diy ultra high capacity charger.
 
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zipplet

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Joined
Dec 11, 2006
Messages
1,139
Location
Ireland
It's nice to see someone reviewing these devices!

I am also a fan of portable USB chargers. These days most devices will charge from one including portable games consoles with the correct cable. Owning a power hungry smartphone (HTC Desire) means that you will end up needing a portable charger especially if you use extra power hungry features like GPS navigation.

You might want to see if you can get your hands on any of the chargers from http://www.portablepowersupplies.co.uk/. I own the standard portapow USB battery and have found it invaluable and built to the highest quality :) No overcharging/overheating.

Also, if you review any USB chargers that use AA batteries please check if they work from NiMH cells. I bought a duracell instant charger and was very disappointed that it did not work properly wiith NiMH due to a voltage cutoff.

Thanks for the reviews.
 

richardcpf

Well-known member
Joined
May 23, 2008
Messages
1,281
I also ordered a HTC desire! I believe I own one of the few if not the only device in my country. And since this phone is only for UK market It's been hard to buy genuine accesories for it.

AA charger reviewed. My HTC will arrive in the next days, I will test and see which chargers are compatible.
 
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