Power banks – the traveller must have?

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  1. BoardingArea

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    A lot of us are wedded to our phones or other devices that love to consume power.

    I know I am sadly.

    Try getting one of these out of my hands (be it the iPhone or the Sony thing I use as a modem)

    When we use our devices for mapping, networking, catching up with the world , geolocation, train times (or in the case of trains in Paris – actually operating), especially with some screen brightness and a slightly ageing battery, the phone doesn’t even last half a day.

    So we need power on the road.

    Power banks have been around for some time (I remember the plug-in ones you could get for the bottom of your iPhone 3G), and things have evolved since then, with all shapes and sizes out there.

    Things have moved on a fair bit since then, thanks to most manufactures standardising on USB and microUSB, as well as better lithium battery chemistries.

    I use two of them… One by PNY (which I needed as I required more power at a wedding) and one which was a no-name special off eBay.

    PNY Fancy Power Bank – 2600mAh rated – via PCWorld

    The no-name eBay special – 10,00mAh (a bucketful of links and ideas via eBay)

    Charging them up is as simple as plugging them into a USB port, and letting the bank charge up

    There are a few things you need to bear in mind however when you select one of these – depending on what you’re needing:

    • Whilst these are rated at a certain rate, some of the energy is converted into heat, and thus you don’t get the full battery rating.
    • A larger power-bank maybe preferred to charge a device multiple times (or charge multiple devices), however there is a weight penalty to consider – for those on tighter luggage allowances, this could be important .
    • If you’re using one to charge a tablet, you’ll need to consider the output as well as the input – look for 2.1mAh output.
    • Ensure that there is overcharging protection and the usual safety devices are with the device (it is pretty standard, but still – its good to check)
    • If you’re out and about during the day, and charging on the go, consider some really well made USB cables. Flat MicroUSB cables are rather nice (and reasonably well made in regular use) Normally there’s a bundled cable with your power bank. For Apple devices, I’d personally avoid the “Official” Apple cable as the rubber on the cable tends to disintegrate after extensive use (and watching one smoulder is not what I’d call a fun experience). There are better made cables out there.

    These are great things to have on the go, and if you are doing heavy exploring (using the GPS on your phone), taking lots of photos and video, if you want to use the backlight on your screen at full brightness all day, or if you’re spending the day connected to the Internet when travelling around.

    And a travellers must have? Well put it like this: the small power bank is in my bag most of the time. The larger power bank is used on long days out…

    … or if I need to keep things well charged for a wedding…

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