I’m starting to think I might have a problem. My interest in external batteries may be turning into a fetish, but these energy stores are important to our digital lifestyles. The latest electron pump to whet my appetite is the RAVPower RP-PB14 Xtreme.
The 23,000mAh 5v output will, for example, fully recharge an iPhone around 12 times, a Galaxy S4 around 7 times and even an iPad Air from empty to full twice over. In addition the battery can output a range of higher voltages to power netbooks, notebooks and laptops too.
As well as the battery itself, the kit comes with 4 charger tips for mobile devices (Samsung, Nokia, mini and micro USB) as well as 2 x USB power leads, plus a range of 10 charger tips for laptops (see below) and a DC lead to hook them up. There’s also a felt carry case to pack it all into.
Feel the Power
The little LCD screen gives the unit an air of quality and shows the remaining power level of the cells (both visually in bars as well as a percentage value). In addition the USB symbol appears when charging through either of the USB ports.
The upper aluminium body (plastic bottom half) helps with heat dissipation and there are 4 ports along the top edge of the case. From left to right, first is the input port, this is used to charge the battery from the supplied AC Mains charger (15-24v 2A) which will work around the world as it’s 100-240V 50-60Hz. It takes around 6 hours to fully charge.
Next along is the USB 2 port, this is a 2.5A output that will charge an iPad at full speed as well as those other power greedy devices like the Galaxy Tab or Nexus 7. The USB 1 port is a standard 1.0A output for your iPhone, Android smartphone, Portable Game Console etc. Finally the right-most port is the DC Output for charging laptops and notebooks.
Check the AC adaptor for your laptop to determine the voltage required, then hold down the single function button until the voltage value begins to flash. Press the button again to cycle through the output options (9, 12, 16, 19 and 20 volts). Once you arrive at the correct value leave it flashing for a few seconds and it will stop and lock to that output.
The 10 notebook tips included in the kit will connect the battery to most units from Acer, Asus, Benq, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba.
Being a MacBook household there’s an obvious omission from that list, no doubt because of Apple’s proprietary connector. However a quick search turns up these inexpensive Apple Magsafe and Magesafe 2 cords so it may be possible to rig something up for your Cupertino computer. But plug any Heath Robinson contraption into your shiny, expensive MacBook at your own risk.
You can use both USB Smart Ports at once (3.5A max) and even simultaneously charge 3 devices by adding your laptop at the same time (4.5A max total output). The instructions allude to an 80% efficiency stating that the unit will “…consume about 20% of the total capacity, including power loss from circuit heat and voltage conversion”.
RAVPower say the Lithium-Polymer cells employed by their unit are more stable and safer than Li-ion and they are good for over 500 recharge cycles. They are keen to point out the other safety features of this unit too and quote protection for overcharge, overvoltage, overcurrent, overtemperature and short circuit with auto-shut down where required. In normal use the unit will auto power off between 5 and 20 seconds after its been disconnected.
We recently packed the RP-PB14 on a long family car journey and even though there was USB power available in the car, the rear seat passengers preferred to use the battery as it meant those (short) lightning and micro-USB cables weren’t as stretched and restrictive as they were when plugged into the car adaptor.
The enormous capacity of the RAVPower unit would be especially useful on long flights. Although I’ve noticed there’s an increased risk of being pulled at airport security these days with a battery in your hand luggage. I’ve been stopped at the X-Ray on 4 out of the last 4 flights I’ve taken so they could take a closer look at this smaller battery.
My daughter can seemingly drain any smartphone battery in just a few hours and as she’s starting university in a few weeks this is going to be the perfect device for her backpack. Popularity with her fellow IT students should be assured too when word gets out that she’s packing a power source that’ll keep multiple devices juiced-up throughout the day.
The RAVPower Xtreme is sturdy, high-capacity energy source that will see most people through many days of travel, camping, power outage or whatever. If you’re after a beefy battery that’s flexible enough to charge most modern electronics then it’s certainly a worthy candidate for anyones shortlist. Available now for around £80.
RAVPower is currently running a back-to-school offer with up to 74% OFF some of their portable battery models, if you want something smaller and lighter, you may want to check it out here.