Tuesday 5 April 2011

A gadget recommendation - PowerPod Executive Solar Phone Charger

It is not that often I get a new gadget.. I blame the bankers... however as part of my Birthday Pressie this year the wonderful and ever patient val (@slightlydoolaly) got me a "Powerpod" Solar charger for my phone direct from their website, which appeared in 2 days after ordering which is pretty good going considering I am in Northern Ireland!

To be precise the charger is called the i3500 Executive Solar Phone Charger £26.11 if bought direct.

(Picture courtesy of SolarKitsDirect.co.uk)

As you can see it is around the size of an iPhone contains a 3500 mAh battery,
monocrystalline solar cells which are much better than the cheaper and less efficent polycrystalline cells (I work for a company that manufactures high end domestic and industrial solar panels so things like that impress me!) The box also contained a plethora of connection adaptors for most mobile devices and a rather swish carry pouch that can be attached to a belt. The device itself is nice and light and the build quality seems excellent.

Now the main reason I have for buying this is .. I walk .. rather a lot ... and I usually use my HTC Desire's GPS function to record where I have been which sadly sucks the life out of the standard 1300mAh battery that comes with the phone. After 4 or 5 hours on the road and taking the odd photo the phone is nearly dead so I need something for those "all day danders" and I was definite that I did not want an extra battery or one of the "Thick" replacement batteries that requires a new back only gives another couple of hunderd mAhs and can mess up the heat disapation of the phone. So I went for one of these gadgets as it would give me just under 5000 mAh of battery to play with which should be ample for even the longest walk.

It was only partially charged when I took it out of the box so I plugged it into the mains using the supplied cable and the HTC USB mains plug and gave it a good deep charge. I worked out what connectors I needed to keep with the device. The only minus point in the whole start up is the supplied instructions while they cover the main areas well are a bit basic on a few topics. Like how exactly to charge using the sun. That aside .. how did it perform?

The first use was with the phone @ 75% battery with wifi, gps and 3g turned off. The phone charged to 100% in 31 minutes, reducing the charger from 4 status LEDs to 3

The next use was on a walk of about an hour with GPS on a 10 second refresh and 3g data turned on. Normally this would take between 20-25% of my battery depending on how many pictures I took and how much I tweeted. I had the chrager on my hip in its wee pouch and I discovered a bonus as the phone fits in the pouch as well!. The supplied USB cable is long enough to reach from the belt to most pockets and Micro USB adpator fits sunggly and securely in the charger and phone.. After 30 minutes the phone was showing 95%, probably because I used the camera a couple of times and uploaded some pictures to yFrog/Twitter along with the other background processes. At the end of the 75 min walk the phone was showing 91% and as soon as I stopped CardioTrainer GPS and 3G the phone was back up to 100% in 12 minutes, leaving the charger STILL with 3 of the 4 status LEDs lit so I am confident that it will cope with even my most demanding all day walks with ease.

I did have a couple of questions relating to how the device charged so I shot the support desk an email at 11pm and at 8:30am the next day I had a reply and a phone number from Nath one of the support staff suggesting I give him a ring to discuss my queries. So I did just that and I found Nath to be very helpful and knowledgable. He was able to fill in all the gaps about using the sun to charge the device, not that I expect the Northern Ireland sun will ever be out long enough to actually charge it fully :-)

So in conclusion owning a Powerpod has been great so far and the support has been excellent .. well done everyone at PowerBee.co.uk and Nath in particular

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