external batteries Stories June 10, 2016

Kanex Plugged in

I wouldn’t normally describe a portable battery as being beautiful, but Kanex’s just-released $99 GoPower USB-C Portable Battery fits that description. Its aluminum body is like a mix of Apple’s space gray and silver colors, but it’ll look good when paired with any 12″ MacBook.

Good looks are nice, but the real world performance of a battery pack is crucial. How does Kanex’s offering stack up? Check out our hands-on impressions. expand full story

external batteries Stories August 21, 2014

Screenshot 2014-08-14 07.58.39

New startup Q Designs seeks to help solve a problem that many people have: we sometimes need to power our mobile electronic devices, but we don’t want to carry external battery packs or bulky charging cases. Q Designs’ solution, the QBracelet, looks like an ordinary bracelet, but it is actually a high-tech charger that can juice up your electronic device discreetly.

The QBracelet will work with iOS and Android devices at launch. No cord is needed, since inside the bracelet’s clasp there is a lightning adapter for Apple products and a micro-USB port for Android devices.

expand full story

external batteries Stories October 5, 2013

Powering your mobile devices: Anker Astro3 12,000mAh external battery and Energizer cup inverter [Dual review]

No matter where you are, keeping an eye on your devices’ battery levels can feel like a full time job. To make matters worse, energy sources can be hard to come by when you’re out and about or traveling. In this dual review post, we’ll look at two ways to charge up: through the Anker Astro3, an external battery, and the Energizer Power 180W cup inverter for your car.

Energizer Power 180W Cup Inverter

USB cigarette lighter adapters with one or two ports are extremely cheap and great for charging up your phone while driving around. However, sometimes your energy demands might be a bit more complex. If your computer battery is low, wouldn’t it be great to charge up on the way to that important meeting or class? That’s where an inverter comes in.

Most car inverters are ugly, loud, or huge. Instead, the Energizer Power 180W cup inverter flips right into one of your cup holders and doesn’t even make a peep. To top it off, you can split the charge between the four USB ports and a regular outlet.

About the size of a coffee mug, the device has been quietly hiding in the cupholder of my car for a couple of months now. It’s been extremely convenient when I’ve been out all day and away from plugs. Rather than plugging in my computer to an inverter and then plugging my iPhone into my MacBook, this makes it easy to plug in my iPhone and computer directly to the inverter.

In addition, you get the Energizer brand name and safety approvals – it conforms to several safety standards like UL 458.

At just around $32 on Amazon, this is great for professionals or students that spend a lot of time in their car and always need to have their devices charged up and ready to go.

Anker Astro3

This second generation device definitely packs a load of energy in a small amount of space. Great for travelers, students, professionals, or anyone else who’s always on-the-go, the Astro3 is only about 4.5 x 3.5 x 1 inches yet over 12,000 mAh of power is packed into the 10.6 ounce (~3 iPhone 5s) device.

Charging up your devices

Boasting three USB ports – one “Smart” port that can tell the device type and deliver the fastest speed charge (great for iPads and other large tablets) and two universal 5V ports – the Astro3 can charge three devices at once. Once a device has been plugged in, the button-less battery just requires a quick shake to start pushing out the energy.

With such a massive capacity, this device took forever to test and review. At a full charge, I was able to get just about 6 full empty-to-full charges for my iPhone before the Astro3 needed to be plugged in again.

Charging up the battery

The Astro3 has a micro-USB port and, together with the included Micro-USB to USB cord, charges up through a wall plug or computer. There are a couple of caveats when it comes to charging the Astro3: you can’t charge devices while the battery is charging, some wall plugs may not be compatible (the iPhone wall plug doesn’t charge up the device, from my testing), and it takes about 8-10 hours to charge from empty to full. Seeing that you get a full 12,000 mAh of energy (the iPhone 5’s battery is 1,440 mAh for reference), it’s worth the time.

While it’s charging the indicator light on the top shows how much you’ve charged up. Shaking the device at any time will also show the charge level, so it’s easy to shake and check to see if it needs a bit more juice before you head out.


Since the output ports are USB, you can plug in an array of smartphones, tablets, and even accessories (I’ve charged up my Bluetooth headphones successfully). Anker provides this non-exclusive list of compatible devices:  iPhone 5s, 5, 4S, 4; Samsung Galaxy S4, S3, Note 2; iPad 4, 3, 2, iPad Mini; Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, Note 8; HTC One, EVO, Thunderbolt, Incredible, Droid DNA; Motorola ATRIX, Droid; Google Nexus 4, Nexus 7, Nexus 10 and LG Optimus, among other devices.

Wrap-up, availability & pricing

With a sleek design, massive capacity, and simple button-free user experience, the Astro3 is a must-buy for those who need extra energy for their devices wherever they go. It’s available from Amazon for just $49.99 – you can also browse through the over 88 5-star reviews for this high-capacity external battery.

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