Saturday, September 18, 2010

Review: Kensington Ultra Portable Battery Pack (aka The Most Useful Accessory You Will Ever Own)

The Kensington Ultra Portable Battery Pack is a battery pack that can be used to charge anything that can be charged via USB. The small pack itself is a 1800mAh battery that can be charged from a computer or mains socket with the included via a mini USB jack, and can accept any USB cable to output charge to any other device. Coming in cheapest at £14.99 from, it's the best value and most versatile of battery packs when compared to batteries like the £63.55 Mophie JuicePack Air, and it deserves a permanent space in your bag for emergencies.

Losing power in your phone is extremely frustrating. With modern gadgets like the iPhone barely lasting 8 hours of charge with frequent use, it's very likely that most of us will be caught out with low battery whilst we are out after work and without a power plug or USB socket in sight. With so many processor intensive distractions like media and games, smartphones will probably run out of power right when you need it most - when want to make a phone call at the end of the day. In this respect, the Kensington Ultra Portable Battery Pack does a great job of charging devices like the iPhone 3GS for 90-110% of its battery.

The fastest rising cause of heart problems in smartphone users.
The Kensington Ultra Portable Battery Pack is also extremely versatile, since it can be used to charge a whole host of devices. It's saved my life once when my TomTom would not charge from the car's power socket, since it accepts the mini USB jack from the battery. It can charge any proprietary power socket as long as it can be charged via USB, including devices such as my Archos 605 or my Nintendo DS and PlayStation Portable (of which universal integrated charge cables for these devices are invaluable).

I have way too much stuff.
The versatility of the battery pack is also its main weakness as well. Trying to actually use the battery pack to charge whilst making a phone call results in some awkward maneuvering around dangling wires. Make no mistake, this is by no means an elegant replacement for battery packs that slide onto the back of devices such as the Mophie JuicePack Air which double as a case. However, buying an expensive battery that is specifically tailored to a device is a poor investment as when it comes time to upgrade to a new device. The Kensington Ultra Portable Battery Pack will pretty much work on anything and is as future proof as long as manufacturers keep making everything chargeable via USB.

The Kensington Ultra Portable Battery Pack itself is fairly slim for the amount of power it delivers. This battery is best used stored inside your bag and only taken out during an emergency. The charge of the battery pack lasts for a few weeks without requiring charging again, and serves the purpose of being a very reliable emergency backup for all your devices. You can check the charge by clicking a grey button, which will light up blue LEDs depending on what the percentage of charge is left. The battery pack includes a power USB mains charger (with a UK plug adapter) and also a USB to mini USB charge cable. I have found it best to find a universal integrated charge cable to minimize the amount of cables to carry.

Kensington Ultra Portable Battery Pack thickness as compared with an iPhone 3GS.

This battery pack has saved me so many times I consider it invaluable, and I never the leave the flat without it.

The battery is also known as the 'Kensington Rechargeable Portable Battery Pack'. Some packs come with a standard iPod charge cable.