The new USB-C port on Apple’s new 12-inch MacBook (review) is both a gift and a curse. If you frequently connect legacy USB peripherals to your notebook, then you’ll have to deal with using an adapter between your old gear and your new laptop each time (and should possibly consider another machine for now). The move from Apple’s proprietary MagSafe 2 connection to the new industry standard USB Type C port for charging, however, opens up the door to third-party power adapters and portable battery packs.
During my initial MacBook evaluation, I verified this possibility with a 13,000mAh portable battery pack I had on hand. Vinsic’s 20,000mAh ultra slim power bank is a giant battery that offers even more juice for your iPhone, iPad, or 12-inch MacBook with a sleek design and an LED status indicator…
As its name suggests, Vinsic’s ultra slim Power Bank manages to pull off a thin profile similar to Apple notebooks and iOS devices. Even with its slim package, Power Bank is still a very big battery — its dimensions similar to that of an iPad mini — measuring in at 173mm x 120mm x 12mm. The photo above compares the Power Bank footprint relative to the iPhone 6, iPad Air, and 12-inch MacBook.
Power Bank is also a rather heavy battery pack weighing in at about a pound. Its metal casing feels premium and doesn’t attract fingerprints, but a plastic shell could achieve a lighter product. Packing in almost four times the capacity as the new MacBook’s built-in battery, though, Power Bank is going to be somewhat heavy regardless of the build materials, and its ultra slim profile makes it feel dense.
Power Bank is subtle on presenting any branding: a faint ‘VINSIC’ logo tops the upper side of the battery pack while informational markings appear on the lower side. You’ll also find markings noting Power Bank’s 20,000mAh capacity and VSPB202 model number as well as input and output specifications for charging.
Markings beneath the Power Bank indicate the LED power display location, the Micro USB port location for charging the battery pack, its 2.1A power USB port out location, and 1.0A power USB port out location — the higher power port intended for charging tablets and larger phones with the lower powered port for use with smaller phones and iPods.
A 2.1A USB port is enough to charge any iPhone, iPad, or iPod even during heavy use, but as I mentioned during a recent episode of 9to5Mac’s Happy Hour podcast, Power Bank-category chargers are not optimized for charging something as power thirsty as even the low-power 12-inch MacBook during use. Power Bank’s ability to charge the MacBook will depend on how much energy the notebook is consuming.
- Under very heavy use, Power Bank will juice your MacBook but expect to see battery continue to drop, just slower than usual
- Under light to moderate use, Power Bank will maintain battery percentage or slowly raise battery percentage over several hours
- Power Bank will charge an inactive/sleeping or powered off MacBook
Also important to note: Power Bank is not quick to charge itself. The portable battery ships with a short Micro USB cable for charging; you supply the power brick. When paired with a 2.1Amp power adapter, Power Bank required an estimated hour for each 10% increment of charge, spanning roughly 10 hours to complete a 100% charge after being fully depleted. The bottom line here is you’ll want to charge it the night before you venture away from home with a couple additional hours to spare.
You will likely need to pick up a new cable to connect Power Bank to MacBook’s USB-C port. Using a USB-C to USB-A cable is the easiest (and most direct) solution. Apple does not yet offer this cable, but Google’s online store sells a black USB Type-C to USB Standard-A Plug Cable ($12.99); similarly priced options are available on Amazon. Alternatively, you can use Apple’s USB-C to USB Adapter ($19) paired with a USB-A to USB-A cable for connecting Power Bank with the 12-inch MacBook — a more costly and inconvenient option unless you already have the supplies laying around for other purposes.
Similar to Power Bank’s 10 hours needed to be completely refilled from empty, the battery pack in my evaluation of actual use can offer roughly 9-10 additional hours of MacBook use in addition to the 4-5 hours of use I achieved on a single charge with the built-in battery. While the MacBook’s own battery isn’t nearly enough to get through a single work day on one charge, I could reliably work for 8 hours on the MacBook’s charge plus Power Bank and still have a small portion of battery to spare for leisure.
As an iPhone and iPad portable charger, Power Bank is a large but high capacity option with standout features like its LED indicator and strong build quality. As a solution for powering the 12-inch MacBook, Power Bank can charge a resting notebook or help keep your very active machine alive in a pinch. A higher powered solution like the recently reviewed ChargeAll Portable Power Outlet may be more appropriate for frequent heavy usage on even a 12-inch MacBook away from a real power supply for now.
Still, Power Bank does provide several hours of extra MacBook usage without being tethered to a wall outlet and proves a competitive option at its $49.90 Amazon price. Vinsic Ultra Slim Power Bank can be had for even less at $45 for 9to5Mac readers using the code 5KMRPQYR at checkout when purchasing one or more Power Banks on Amazon through Friday.
|Manufacturer: Vinsic||MSRP / Sale Prices: $89.95 / $49.90 (Amazon)||Compatibility: iPhone, iPad, iPod, MacBook (Early 2015)|