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As anyone with a portable electronic device will tell you, one of the many problems or concerns with carrying them is that there is always the potential that you will run out of battery or power when you are at a location where there isn’t a power source or charging supply nearby. That could be on a plane, train, at the airport (unless you can locate a free wall plug that is so far from your gate) or elsewhere. This is a problem that will likely continue to plague us as we continue to carry more portable battery charged devices.
Although there are many different temporary power solutions available from various different vendors and suppliers, I have found that most battery extenders or emergency chargers that rely on a dry cell batteries, whether it be a 9 volt, or 4 AA or whatever else, don’t really do a good job. They obviously can supply some juice or power to the portable device, but they (keep in my this is my personal experience and opinion) just aren’t good enough to fully charge the device. Most of these will get my Palm or Treo device up to a certain level of battery power (eg. 70-80%) before it stops charging any further. That has happened with an emergency 9 Volt battery extender I purchased for my Zire 71 as well as a battery extender/charger that uses 4 AA batteries. And in the case of the extender with the 4 AA batteries, I’ve found that both the batteries and the charger/extender itself got so scorching hot! Had I not checked on it after a few hours, I could have encountered an unexpected mishap. The problem may have been that these battery extenders didn’t have a triggering mechanism to automatically turn off and thus, why it was overheating. Thankfully, I discovered in time. I personally think that a LiOn battery solution like this Proporta USB charger or other similar products are a much better and safer way.
So here’s a new solution to the age old problem, supply a bigger capacity battery that is lightweight and can supply enough juice to fully charge those power hungry devices we now carry with us. In this case, we have a LiOn battery.
Today I will be reviewing Proporta’s External Lithium-Ion Battery Pack/USB charger. Although it is used as a battery extender or charger, it is essentially, a Lithium Ion battery that can be charged via a USB powered port like that from a computer or USB hub and later discharged to supply or transfer the power to another portable mobile device. The main difference is that this is obviously a bigger battery compared to the usual dry cell batteries we were previously using for most battery chargers and this actually can fully charge our devices rather than provide some emergency power.
Proporta USB charger
Click on the thumbnail images for a bigger picture
Video of Proporta USB Charger
Alternative link: Vimeo
(added July 21, 2007)
Originally, the package did not include the Treo multi-connector so I was not able to demonstrate the entire package with the retractable charging cable and the USB Charger. Thanks to Katrina of Proporta, I have received it and now had added this additional video.
Video of Treo multi-connector with Proporta USB Charger
For those who want to skip over all the detailed review and just want a summary, you can jump to the review summary
The package includes the Lithium Ion battery itself, which looks like an iPod being white in color and shaped like that of an iPod. It’s a rectangular, thin and flat object with a circular LED light indicator (red when charging and green when fully charged or when turned on) and button near the bottom on the device’s face, a set of connector ports for charging and discharging at the bottom, and a metallic loop at the top (for a lanyard or similar threads to loop through). It also comes supplied with a white charging cable and a retractable mobile device cable with four adapters for iPod, Nokia, Sony Ericsson devices. Should you require a different adapter, simply add the necessary adapter to your shopping cart at Proporta’s store website. There are no additional costs to add the adapter.
The Proporta USB mobile device charger, aside from the fact that it is a larger battery than the smaller dry cells, also differentiates itself from the dry cells as it charges via the USB port rather than via a wall socket. This makes it very convenient since most Palm and mobile device users own and will likely bring along their laptop computers with them, or at least have access to a computer with a USB port. If you want the added convenience of charging via a wall socket, you can also purchase an AC adapter that can enable you to plug in your USB devices (including this USB Mobile device charger as well as other USB powered devices) for charging via the wall. This package does not include the USB adapter/socket but you can purchase any one of the mobile travel charger packages that Proporta sells that do come with the USB AC adapter. Additionally, if you travel by car, you can also get a similar adapter that will charge via the the cigarette lighter. This way, you have the added convenience and choice of being able to charge via any USB port, wall socket or car’s cigarette lighter. How much more convenient can it be?
This 3400mah capacity LiOn battery has two connector ports at the bottom. The one on the left (or the battery’s right) is a USB port for the discharge of power (clearly labeled as OUT) from the battery’s reservoir and the one on the right is a mini-USB port (labeled IN) for its own charging via USB. There is a white charging cable supplied with one end having the mini-USB connector and the other end with a USB connector where it can be plugged into a computer’s USB port or hub. The package is also supplied with a retractable power discharge cable that has a USB connector at one end and a special multi-connector that can power a wide variety of mobile devices via individual connector adapters. The package contains four different adapter heads for various portable devices such as Sony Ericsson, Nokia cell phones as well as Apple iPod that attach to the multi-connector to allow discharge of power from the LiOn battery to the portable device. Similar to other multi-device chargers that only require the necessary adapter heads, this Proporta USB mobile device charger can support an enormous number of portable devices, limited only by the necessary adapter head and possibly the required voltage output.
Since the package I received did not include an adapter head for my Treo, I wasn’t able to test it out in my video. I was, however able to use my own retractable USB charging cable and fully charge my Treo using that cable instead. So, you don’t necessarily need the adapter or the retractable cable, but if you own a variety of mobile devices, bringing along that cable and the adapter heads instead of a whole bunch of different cables is obviously a better idea.
(Edited July 21, 2007). I have received the adapter for the Treo from Katrina of Proporta and have uploaded the video above. It works fine and charges perfectly. Of course, if you have the adapter head for your mobile devices, it makes perfect sense to bring the adapter instead of individual charging cables for all your devices (and your back will thank you). But, keep in mind that the set up with an additional adapter will extend the length of the charging cable.
To charge the USB mobile device charger, simply connect the mini-USB connector of the supplied white cable to the corresponding mini-USB port of the battery pack and then connect the USB connector to the USB port of your computer. The LED light indicator will turn red to indicate charging status. When the battery is fully charged, the light will turn green.
To discharge the power in the battery and charge your portable device, connect either the supplied retractable cable with the adapter for your device to your mobile device on the end and the other end to the USB port of the battery pack. Make sure to press down on the circular button where you see the LED indicator light. If you forget to turn it on (ie. the green light doesn’t turn on), you will essentially be draining your Treo or portable device’s battery. When your device is fully charged, simply remove the USB connector from the battery. The battery will automatically turn off after a minute and the green light will turn off.
Here are my observations: I really like that it is a LiOn battery and isn’t another dry cell battery extender since I’ve found that dry cell extenders are not powerful enough to fully charge a Palm or Treo device (my own personal experience). This USB mobile charger is light, thin and compact. There is a small loophole at the top if you wish to thread a string through it for portability. The power on button is nicely flushed into the battery so it doesn’t stick out and couldn’t easily be accidentally turned on. I like how it is cool to the touch even after hours of charging and it does auto turn off to prevent overcharging and possible overheating. And for those who are Apple fans, the similarity to an iPod obviously be appealing.
I fail to find ANY fault with this product. It’s lightweight, very portable and works. The only thing I can think of that may make it better is possibly adding a USB connector (that can be swapped out and back in when not in use) on one end so that you can eliminate having to carry the white charging cable. Even with the extra cable, it hardly takes up any space. During my recent trip to Quebec City, I was able to charge my Treo twice from a level of about 65% before the USB charger was completely drained. At the size similar to an iPod, the mobile charger doesn’t take up much space. Since most of us will likely take a retractable charging cable for our mobile device, we will only need to bring an extra charging cable for the battery and possibly an AC adapter for charging via the wall socket. If you own additional portable devices, using the supplied retractable cable with the necessary adapter heads may be an even better idea since you can eliminate bringing a whole set of cables. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wishes and needs a portable source of power for his mobile device.
This is a great solution to an age old problem of having that emergency source of power to charge up your portable device at times when power is not readily available. Rather than relying on dry cell batteries that normally can’t charge or top up the power on a portable device, we now have a viable solution, at a very affordable price. I really like the fact that this battery can easily be charged via the USB port of a computer or laptop or even a USB hub. To make it even better, you can also add a wall socket AC adapter to the mix so that you can also charge it via the wall or even add a car cigarette lighter adapter, if you are likely travelling by car. You can obviously see how this charger can be very useful.
The Proporta USB mobile device charger was able to quickly charge up my Treo 650 without any problems, always staying cool to the touch. It’s lightweight, very portable and takes up very little space even with the cables. With a capacity of 3400mah, you know that it can provide enough juice for your mobile device, regardless of what it is. Keep in mind that it is a LiOn battery and there is a limit to how much power it can supply but for most portable devices like a PDA or cell phone, it is sufficient. If you are looking for a portable power and charging solution, look no further than Proporta’s USB mobile device charger. Please check it out at our Proporta affiliate store here and use coupon DISCOVER for an additional 10% off in savings.
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