These days, almost everyone has a smartphone or tablet (or both). As these gadgets became more power-hungry, a cottage industry sprang up to deliver mobile power packs. There are packs that attach to expand a device’s battery life—such as the mophie juice pack plus—and there are stand-alone, mobile battery packs. One such battery pack is the Satechi 10000 mAh (milliamp) Portable Energy Station. Satechi markets a number of mobile accessories, including the ST-69BTS Audio Cube Bluetooth Speaker that I reviewed a couple of months ago.
The last thing you want from an external battery source is a lot of added weight, and Satechi had that in mind when designing the Portable Energy Station. It is made from hard plastic, measures 5.5 inches by 2 inches by 0.75 inches and weighs 7.4 ounces, making it a relatively unobtrusive addition to your carry-on or laptop bag. The device has a total of three ports: one mini-USB input for charging the power cell and two full-size USB outputs for charging up to two devices at a time. One is a 2-amp port for iPads and the other a 1-amp port. The power button also doubles as a battery life indicator, with five blue LEDs showing the battery level.
Satechi includes a USB charging cable with six interchangeable tips, including a Dock Connector for Apple devices. You must provide additional USB charging cables to attach a second device or to charge the Energy Station with the provided AC adapter or by plugging it into a computer. There is also a fabric pouch to keep everything together.
The first thing you need to do when you receive your Energy Station is to charge it. Plugging it into my desktop computer, the battery indicator lights were flashing all blue within an hour. A fully discharged cell will take about five hours to charge using the AC adapter.
Satechi has a number of Energy Stations of varying capacities. The 10000 mAh is currently their largest. With a 10,000-mAh battery capacity, the Energy Station should charge an iPhone 4s, and its 1,432-mAh battery, nearly seven times; an iPad 2 (6,944 mAh) 1.4 times; or a new iPad (11,666 mAh) 0.86 times. However, my experience didn’t live up to the billing. Testing my fully-drained iPad 2, with Wi-Fi activated but screen turned off, it took four hours to reach a 65% charge (by comparison is takes around three hours to fully charge an iPad 2 with the Apple 10-watt adapter). The Energy Station ran out of juice after six hours, with the iPad 90% charged. The charging times left me wondering if the Energy Station really is delivering 2 amps. Furthermore, not being able to fully charge a 6,944-mAh iPad2 makes me doubt its capacity, or the battery indicator lights.
Having such a small, high-capacity power source for $60 is very appealing, especially for someone who spends a lot of time traveling on Amtrak trains that don’t accommodate AC adapters in coach class. If I didn’t know the specs of the 10000 mAh Energy Station, I would have been thrilled to nearly double the battery life of my iPad 2 or get a few complete charges for my iPhone 4s. Unfortunately, this Energy Station doesn’t live up to Satechi’s billing. This is the first device of this type I have reviewed, so I can only make a qualified recommendation. In the coming weeks, I hope to be able to take a look at others to find out if the Satechi 10000 mAh Energy Station’s performance is par for the course or indicative of a flawed design.
Wayne A. Thorp, CFA, is the author of “Gadget Corner.” All reviews are based on firsthand experience of the product or service. No third-party compensation is received for opinions on products, services, websites or topics. However, sometimes the author is not required by the manufacturer or their PR firm to return the product under review. In such instances, it is our policy to convey this within the review. The views and opinions expressed in these reviews are strictly those of the author. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider.