Power on the go: Universal battery pack
It used to be that the only way to squeeze extra minutes out of the batteries of my mp3 player, digital camera, portable DVD player, or laptop was to turn off the backlight, use the viewfinder, or lower the screen brightness.
I have finally declared "No more! I will not compromise the way I use my gadgets!" with the purchase of a universal external battery pack. The appeal of this battery over others – and there are tons out there – is its wide voltage range and ability to charge and/or power up multiple gadgets simultaneously. While I do like dedicated battery chargers/extenders, an all-inclusive one is better when traveling. It’s bigger than a single dedicated external battery, sure, but more compact than a bagful of dedicated batteries.
I haven’t run any battery tests, so what follows are just some first-impression ramblings and basic information in case you’re interested in picking one up for yourself.
Capacity: 130WH (8800 mAh)
Output voltage: 3V-24V
Output current: 5A max
Dimensions: 7.86" x 4.72" x 0.86"
Weight: 2 lbs.
In addition to the power cord and battery, the system comes with a "super box," cigar lighter socket and plug, universal cables, and a tragically unmarked assortment of connectors:
There’s also a user’s guide CD, complete with homemade label and spare-no-expenses plastic baggie!
There are six files on the CD, three file formats (PDF, Word doc, and TIFF) each of the user’s guide for this model (KN-SP-130) and the guide for some other models. I suppose it’s nice to have choices, but it’s always a little suspect when a company offers "official" paperwork in a Word document. The guide is written in broken English and requires a bit of deciphering, but it’s easy enough to figure out.
On the super box are a USB port and switches to set various voltages based on the output of a gadget’s AC adapter. The LEDs on either side of the box light up according to the selected voltage; the colors are important to know when/if what appears to be another homemade label falls off.
Connecting the box to the battery is easy, though a cord would’ve been better to save surface space (the little barrel connector is about 2" long).
The box allows simultaneous powering/charging of gadgets with opposing DC power outputs (high vs. low range), and if you have anything that charges via USB, such as a cell phone (5 phone adapters and a retractable USB cable are included) or mp3 player, you can actually charge 3 devices at the same time! It’s not a pretty sight, but it’s still pretty incredible.
Even though the universal cables fit directly into the jack on the battery, I don’t know if the battery can/should be used without the super box. On the other hand, since I think this super box is actually a homemade add-on, I’m sure that documentation exists somewhere for what can be safely and directly plugged in.
According to the user’s guide:
3V will power most mp3 players
5V will power most cell phones, PDAs, PSPs, and the USB port
9V will power most portable DVD players
12V will power most GPS units and the cigar lighter socket/plug
16V-24V will power most laptops (16V for Vaio) and other peripherals (24V for many Mac laptops and printers)
So far I’ve found compatible connectors for my UX180P, Samsung e315, PSP, and a few gadgets that charge via USB.
I couldn’t find a match for the Panasonic D-Snap, Archos Gmini 402 and AV420, Motorola V180, and obviously anything that requires a proprietary connection. Fewer hits than misses, but compatibility with the UX more than makes up for that.
It’s much too soon for me to draw any conclusions about long-term performance, but so far I’d say that I’m satisfied. The things that are questionable and have that flea market/garage sale feel (and smell!) to them probably don’t belong in the box to begin with (USB phone connectors, soccer-ball-emblazoned USB cable, super box, user’s guide CD). And that’s nothing a few alcohol-soaked cotton balls can’t fix!
The main product, the battery itself, seems well built and everything else works the way it should. I bought mine for $150, which is reasonable and about how much universal batteries with these specs go for anyway. I’ll know whether the money was well spent once I see how long it keeps my UX running.
Oh, and the power level indicator is a nice touch.
I have no idea what this battery is actually called. On the top of the box is "Universal High Capacity External Li-Ion Battery Pack," on the sticker on the side is "Universal External Power System," on the user’s guide is "Super Universal High Capacity Power Pack," and on the battery itself is "Universal High Capacity External Power Pack." A lot of the same words, but never in the same sequence. Is it any surprise that I couldn’t find anything similar to it on the supposed manufacturer/distributor’s website? I say "supposed" because everything that has the company’s name, KALNA, on it is a sticker!