As someone who often is working "on the go," I've built up my "office in a bag" over time, and one key element has always been making sure I've got power. That means I've always got a portable power strip on me (you make friends at airports quickly) for when there's a scarce power socket around. However, there are plenty of times when there are no outlets available, and over the past few years external batteries have become a big deal. I usually carry two: a bigger one that will power my laptop and a small one for my phone (though the big one can power the phone too). I've tested out a variety of different battery packs over the past few years, always looking for the mythical one that will make me never want for power (expensive lesson learned: no-name brands with impressive stats that ship from China tend to make really crappy batteries). Lately I've been using batteries from Anker, which have been pretty good (and much cheaper than less impressive competitors), though I've been drooling over the Bixnet BP160
with its absolutely insane
153 Watt-hour capacity (more than double nearly all other portable battery packs), though the price, weight and size are all a bit difficult to stomach. Given all that, I do spend a fair amount of time checking out various battery power crowdfunding projects. Here are a few current ones that struck me as interesting for this week's awesome stuff
- First up is the Legion battery pack. It's more or less like a variety of other battery packs for mobile devices (phones, tablets, but not laptops), but they've tried to take it up a notch with a more detailed LED display and much more actual intelligence, telling you how long you have left, how long it will take to charge and a variety of other nice-to-have features. They have two models -- a 5500 mAh one and an 11000 mAh one. That's right in line with a variety of other battery packs on the market.
The pricing on the two different sizes seems somewhat higher than some competitors (such as the Anker ones I've been using), so this is marketed towards people who really value the "smarter" nature of this battery pack and the info it conveys (or people who aren't as aware of cheaper, less smart, battery packs). Still, looks like it could be cool. As I write this, they're right around hitting their target, so this will definitely be funded.
- Next up, we've got Synergy, which describes itself as "the world's best wireless smartphone charger." I will grant them that it's pretty sleek and creative -- really taking a different approach on a wireless charger -- and actually making it something cool. It's a wireless charger with a magnet connector, built into a sleekly designed colorful stand that serves as both a bedside/desktop stand and a windshield mounted stand (you can easily move it from one to the other). And it can even perform a bunch of tasks the second you connect it. So, for example, pop your phone on to the charger in the car and it will automatically open your navigation program, or connect it bedside, and it'll open your alarm clock. There are a lot of nice design touches, and watching the video helps explain it:
The creators of this are very ambitious with the target funding, though, seeking $150,000. They're at about $20,000 with a little less than 4 weeks to go, which means they still have a big hill to climb. One stumbling block may be the price. Even at the early bird price of $75 it makes me wonder if it's really worth it for a charger, even one as cool as this. Wireless charging is cool, but plugging your device in isn't that annoying...
- Then there's the JuiceBee, which is a combo small portable battery backup and wall charger in a single unit. I find their marketing to be a little questionable, since they claim they're the first such product... but their Kickstarter campaign came about a week after a very similar project, the Fluxmob Bolt, closed. Still, the JuiceBee looks well-designed and for people looking for an all-in-one solution for both the wall charger and a small portable battery backup for a phone, it could be nice.
These guys are looking for $50,000 and are about a third of the way there with over a month to go. Seems likely that they'll squeak by the target. Once again, the pricing strikes me as a bit high if it's just the battery pack you're looking at, but for people who value the combo nature, it could be worth it.
- Finally, we've got WaveJuice, which sort of combines two of the above ideas: it's a small portable battery pack for a phone, but using wireless charging. The idea is that rather than fiddle with a wire to connect the battery to the phone, you can just plop the phone next to the battery (on a table? in your pocket?). It definitely makes it a lot more convenient, and a lack of wires is definitely nice if you're trying to keep your stuff organized. Though, I have to admit that their video "hypothetical" of a "first date romantic dinner" is laughably ridiculous (assuming, first, that you'd put your phone on the table during such a date and that you'd wrap the cable around your wine glass...).
These guys have a more modest (than most of these other projects) goal of just $10,000, and have about $2,000 committed with a month left to go. Again, the pricing on this one strikes me as a little high, but I seem to be saying that about all of the products mentioned today, so perhaps I'm not the actual target market.
That's it for this week. Hope that whatever you do this weekend, you've got enough power.