Saturday, 31 January 2015

Outdoor PowerBank

Outdoor PowerBank

Checks out a battery charger designed for outdoor use

While a portable battery charger can prove useful in certain indoor circumstances (a similar product recently proved useful to me during a prolonged hospital visit, for example), this type of kit is more likely to come into its own in outdoor environments, when there are no power sockets available to charge your mobile devices.

A battery charger like this can also act as a power source substitute, and it is this rationale that is behind Sandberg's latest portable battery charging device, the Outdoor PowerBank, which offers the user a fairly substantial 10400mAh of available power.

As befits a device designed specifically for rugged outdoor usage, the Outdoor PowerBank comes rated at IP54 standard with regards to its dustproof and waterproof casing. It should be emphasised that immersing this product in water is a no-go area, though. With dimensions of 75 x 125 x 25mm (W x H x D) and weighing 271 g, the Outdoor PowerBank has a khaki-coloured casing, which is then overlaid by a camouflage decorated vest-like design (one wonders, though, whether camouflaging such a product is not an unwise choice, because for the vast majority of its potential buyers, stealth is not a priority and simply makes it easier to lose). Ridges along each side of the PowerBank's body enable the user to firmly grip the unit when setting up the device for power transfer.

All the various connection points, consisting of two standard USB ports for output and a single micro-USB port for input, are arranged across the top of the unit's body. Providing some protection from the elements are rubberised labelled flaps covering the ports. The central flap, covering the micro-USB port, is labelled 'In' - indicating that this is the port to be used for feeding power to the device. When receiving power, either from a computer or the mains, the Outdoor PowerBank's input current is rated at 1000mAh. This means a full charging session can take up to 24 hours when using a computer as the power source. Switching to a mains power connection will reduce the time required by half.

This central flap has a circular cut-out opening through which a torch beam can appear. This torch beam feature is turned on and off with a two-second press of the unit's power button and could prove useful in an emergency. The other two flaps, labelled OUT1 and OUT2, can be opened to reveal standard USB ports for charging smartphones and tablets. The left port delivers power at 1.0A while the right port increases power output to 2.1 A for when dealing with more power hungry devices. This arrangement allows you to charge two mobile devices simultaneously.

Providing feedback as to the current battery level available from the Outdoor PowerBank are four LED lights. When initially connected to a device waiting to be charged or following a quick press of the power button, these buttons will briefly glow in increments of 25% before turning themselves off in order to save on power.

The PowerBank's output charging is rated at 3100mAh. Using the 2.1 A USB port, it took two hours 49 minutes to bring a Fire HD 7-inch tablet's battery from 33% up to 100%. As a result of this power transfer, the PowerBank's battery took a 25% hit with just three LEDs glowing rather than the full four lights. Michael Fereday

A well-built battery charger for lovers of the great outdoors.