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Computerized Investing > November 23, 2013
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by Wayne A. Thorp, CFA

$49.95

Mobile power source with three widely used connectors built in.

Mobile power stations are nothing new, and I have reviewed several of them for this column. It’s a bit of a hassle, however, to carry the cords necessary to accommodate my mobile USB and iOS devices. With Digital Treasures’ new ChargeIt! Universal Power Bank, you get a 3600 mAh mobile charging station with three of the most widely used connectors built right into its body. This ingenious design eliminates the need to carry extra cables and adapters and is small enough to comfortably fit in your pocket. The only issue is: How much juice can you squeeze from the smallish 3600 mAh battery?

Out of the Box

The ChargeIt! looks a bit like a computer mouse with its rounded rectangular shape. In all, it measures 3.5 inches by 2 inches by 1 inch and weighs less than five ounces. Its size means it can easily fit in a pants or shirt pocket, or a purse or laptop bag. Its compact shape means that it won’t take up much space in my already overstuffed laptop bag whenever I travel.

On the top of the device is a cross-shaped plastic door that you lift up and rotate around to expose the “guts” of the ChargeIt!. Here you will find an On/Off switch, five battery indicator lights and the heart of the matter—a 30-pin Dock Connector cable, a Lightning cable and a micro-USB cable. This means the ChargeIt! can support any new or old iPhone, iPad or iPod touch as well as micro-USB devices. The cables fit into their own indentations on the ChargeIt! and flip out when you need them. The cables themselves are very short, only about three-quarters of an inch long. This is a both a curse and a blessing. They are short enough to avoid getting them tangled on anything, but they don’t offer much wiggle room either. In a perfect world they would retract into the ChargeIt! and pull out to longer lengths when you need them.

Battery

In the mobile power station landscape, the ChargeIt! Universal Power Bank’s 3600 mAh battery is rather small, especially considering devices such as the iBattz BattStation Tough Dual Pro offers capacities up to 12000 mAh. As such, the ChargeIt! is probably best viewed as an emergency power source and not a full-fledged (re)-charger. However, the 3600 mAh is enough to charge your iPhone 5s (1560 mAh) a little over two times on a single charge. By comparison, it’s only enough to charge my iPad Air (8820 mAh) about 40% of the way or an iPad mini with Retina display (6471 mAh) a little over halfway. While the ChargeIt! won’t top off most of today’s power-hungry tablets, it should be able to tide you over until you can hunt down a wall outlet.

To charge the power bank, there is also a USB cable tucked in with the other cables. Simply plug this into a power USB port on your computer or a third-party USB to charge up the ChargeIt!. However, be sure to switch the ChargeIt! on, as it does not appear to charge when the power switch is set to Off. There is also a Power-On Indicator LED button that you can press to see how much power is left in the battery. When the ChargeIt! is completely charged, all five LED lights will steadily glow blue.

Overall

The Digital Treasures ChargeIt! Universal Power Bank is one of the more unique products I’ve recently come across. I really appreciate having all the cables and adapters built in, as I usually travel with a ditty bag filled with nothing but cords and adapters.

The power bank’s design makes it highly portable as well as functional. The cover fits snugly, keeping the cables tucked safely away when you are carrying it in a pocket or a bag.

At $49.95, the ChargeIt!’s functionality and uniqueness make it a bargain for those who often find themselves separated from an outlet for extended periods of time.

Pros

  • Lightweight and compact
  • Lightning, 30-pin Dock Connector and micro-USB cables built-in
  • 3600 mAh battery sufficient to charge iPhone 5s more than two times
  • Good value

Cons

  • Cables are short

Digital Treasures ChargeIt! Universal Power Bank

$49.95 (Currently $44.52 from Amazon.com)

Wayne A. Thorp, CFA is a vice president and senior financial analyst at AAII and editor of Computerized Investing. Follow him on Twitter at @WayneTAAII.


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