Recently I ordered an APC USB Mobile Power Pack (UPB10) since I found it for a good price (< $30) and was going to be traveling. I had considered it before for my older Sony CLIÉ whose battery was starting to suffer but held off. Now having an iPhone this seemed like a good investment. While traveling this weekend I got a chance to give it a real test.
The great thing about this device is that it’s generic. Any device that can be powered or charged via USB can be charged with this. It simply provides power over USB, nothing more. You use your regular USB sync/charging cables. iPhone, iPod, PDA, bluetooth headset, most cell phones, all can be charged this way. That’s much better than an accessory that only charges a certain device. The downside is you need to have the cable handy, which for me isn’t a big deal since the iPhone power adapter is USB based as well. Being able to charge all sorts of gadgets makes this a pretty handy thing to have.
The unit itself is dead simple. It’s a little smaller than an iPhone, and surprisingly light. Two ports, a USB Type A, and USB Mini-B on the top, and a status indicator and button on the front. To charge use the power adapter, which is sufficiently compact though could be better which interfaces with the USB Mini-B port. It takes about 3.5hrs to charge. To charge your device just use the USB cord you normally use and plug it into the USB Type A port. The power pack itself doesn’t come with a cable to charge. Press the indicator button to see how much of a charge is left. That’s about all there is to the device.
After not charging for a while, and watching a movie on the plane, my battery was getting pretty low. I decided to hook up the APC USB Mobile Power Pack and continue watching video. After about an hour or so (while watching more video), my battery was fully charged and the Power Pack still has about 75% of it’s charge remaining. Not bad at all. Rather than land with a drained battery as you typically do with gadgets, I had a full battery.
It’s not a bad device for a pretty reasonable price. Some airplanes have power outlets outside of first class, though may cost a little extra for those seats. In many cases they use EmPower® or a DC “cigarette lighter” port which require their respective adapters. This runs about the same cost as an adapter, and removes the requirement of being on a plane, in a seat that has a outlet handy. If you need to power a laptop, your going to need an outlet. For a mobile device, this is a much better solution.