$39.95 to $54.95
Rugged, water-resistant power bank for USB devices
As mobile devices sport better displays, more powerful processors and faster wireless networks, they are also becoming battery hogs. That is why I’ve had a battery case for my iPhone 5 almost since the day I got it. Otherwise, the battery would nearly be depleted before I returned home from work each day. If I were traveling and didn’t have access to an outlet, I would be dead in the water.
Since there isn’t always an outlet available, many accessory companies have been making mobile power stations—basically portable rechargeable batteries with enough capacity to power today’s devices. In July of last year, I reviewed the Satechi 10000mAh Portable Energy Station. This was a sleek power source, but I wasn’t impressed with its performance. While out at CES, I was given another contender in this category: the iBattz BattStation Tough Dual Pro. iBattz makes a variety of battery cases, including the Mojo Hi5 Power Bank Case for the iPhone 5. The BattStation Tough Pro Dual comes in three different capacities, but for this review, I tested out the 7200 mAH model. The battery case comes wrapped in a rubber shell for added durability and water resistance.
Whereas the Satechi Portable Energy Station is longer and more slender, the BattStation is more square-shaped, measuring 4.3 inches by 2.7 inches by 0.9 inches. It weighs just less than 11 ounces. Interestingly, the Satechi Energy Station weighs roughly one-third less than the iBattz BattStation I reviewed, even though it supposedly has nearly 40% more capacity. Adding the silicone rubber protective shell adds a bit more heft and bulk, but it also makes the BattStation look like it can withstand its share of bangs and knocks. Getting the battery in and out of the sleeve is a bit of a hassle, and I always worry that I am going to tear the rubber.
The rubber case has a cut-out on the top with the power button as well as battery indicator light to let you know how much juice is left. The power button will turn the BattStation on and off and two presses will turn the flashlight on and off.
On one end of the case is a flap that, when lifted, reveals two USB ports to charge other devices: a micro-USB port for charging the battery itself and, oddly, a flashlight. It is worth mentioning that one of the USB ports provides power at 1A while the other at 0.5A. The charger provided with my iPad pushes power at 2A, which means the BattStation will still charge your iPad, just not as quickly as if you were using its native charger. The Satechi Portable Energy Station’s two ports deliver 2A and 1A, respectively.
The BattStation also comes with a micro-USB charging cable, a 30-pin Apple connector and a Samsung Galaxy Tab connector. An Apple Lightning Connector will cost you an additional $18.
Before using the BattSation you will probably need to top off its battery. According to iBattz, a fully discharged BattStation will take up to eight hours to charge.
According to iBattz, the 7200 mAh BattStation has enough capacity to fully charge an iPhone and an iPad 2. However, as was my experience with the Satechi Portable Energy Station, reality differed from the marketing message. Plugging in a powered-down iPad 2 with 31% battery, a fully charged BattStation was completely drained after five hours, with the iPad battery at 93%. In theory, the 7200 mAh BattStation should have been able to top off the 6,944-mAh iPad 2 with juice to spare. Instead, it died before fully charging it when the iPad 2 was about one-third charged.
Although the BattStation didn’t live up to iBattz’s claims, in a head-to-head contest with the Satechi 10000 mAh Portable Energy Station, I would still give the nod to the BattStation Tough Dual Pro. In a choice of the lesser of two evils, the BattStation’s form factor won me over. As someone who travels and likes to take my devices outdoors, I feel more comfortable having the silicone shell to protect it from drops as well as the elements.
Having said that, be sure to build in a cushion with the claimed charging capacity.
Another factor in its favor is the BattStation’s value. The 7200 mAh model I reviewed sells for $39.99. The 12000 mAh model, which starts shipping March 15, 2013, costs $54.95. This model will give you 20% more power for $5 less versus the S10000 mAh Satechi Portable Energy Station, which costs $59.99.
iBattz BattStation Tough Dual Pro 7200/8400/12000 mAh
$39.95 to $54.95