26
Dec
wm_IMG_20111226_130815

We've taken a look at a couple of portable chargers in the past, but the PortaCharge from DriodAX offers something that we haven't seen on any of its competitors: a digital display that outputs exactly how much juice the unit has (in percentage). This gives it a definite advantage over its competition, as it addresses one of the biggest annoyances with other portable batteries and ensures that you always know when it's time to put it on charge.

The question is, though, is a digital display enough to make this a winner?

wm_IMG_20111226_131055

Price: $49.95, making this one of the most affordable portable chargers on the market.

Juice: 5,400mAh

Availability: Available now from DroidAX

The Bottom Line: The PortaCharge has some unique features and a low price tag for what it offers. However, some corners were definitely cut to get the price so low - it feels cheap and the overall build is "sloppy." Still, if you're looking for an affordable way to keep your gear juiced on-the-go, the PortaCharge is a viable option.

The Good

  • 5,400mAh - That's enough to charge a 1,500mAh battery over three times.
  • The Digital Display - Ensures you always know exactly how much juice is left, which is a godsend if you're going to be away from an outlet for an extended amount of time.
  • Weight - The unit is lightweight compared to similar products, so you can toss it in your bag without adding much extra bulk.
  • The included multi-headed USB cable can charge multiple devices, including those with microUSB or miniUSB, iPad/iPod/iPhone, and several others.
  • Price - At $50, the PortaCharge is more affordable than competing products.
  • Dual Charging Ports - Two ports, two times to the charge. One clocks in at 2 Amps, while the other offers a much slower charge at only 1 Amp.

The Bad

  • Build Quality - The low price point takes its toll on build quality. The unit feels slightly cheap in-hand, and certain aspects of buildwm_IMG_20111226_131048 are sloppily done. For example, the clear cover on the digital display on my unit is crooked, and you can see the glue all around it. The  small rubber feet  on the bottom of the unit that are supposed to keep it from sliding around have all fallen off - three of which were gone on the first day. Don't get me wrong, it doesn't feel as if it's going to fall apart in my hands, but the overall lack of attention to detail isn't very reassuring.
  • Charge Time is terribly inconsistent. It charges very rapidly up to the 80% mark, then slows to a crawl.
  • No Tablet Support - While 5,400mAh may be enough to juice up a tablet (at least somewhat), it wouldn't charge my Galaxy Tab 10.1 or Acer Iconia A100. The former acted as if I had plugged it into a computer, while there was not a compatible adapter for the latter (it doesn't charge over USB).
  • Multi-Headed USB Cable - It's a minor annoyance, but the heads of the USB cable get tangled together all the time, making it difficult to quickly grab the one that you need.

wm_IMG_20111226_130928 wm_IMG_20111226_131004 

wm_IMG_20111226_131023

Charging Test

This is the nitty-gritty of what this device is all about: charging. I've charged my phone using it a few times now, and I honestly don't see a big difference in charge time compared to a standard wall outlet.

wm_Screenshot_2011-12-26-14-12-30 wm_Screenshot_2011-12-26-14-35-58

The app used for this test is SystemPanel

As you can see, the leftmost green bar represents the charge from the 2 Amp port, whereas the rightmost bar is the charge provided by the single-amp port. As expected, the 2A port does charge the device faster, but, surprisingly, it's not a huge difference over the 1A port. Of course, the total charge time depends on the device and how large the battery is, but, as I stated earlier, you probably won't notice a huge difference compared to the time that it takes to charge your device from a regular wall outlet.

Conlusion

wm_IMG_20111226_131105

At the end of it all, I have mixed feelings about the PortaCharge from DroidAX. In fact, I've never been so torn about how I feel about a particular device. On one hand, it's an affordable and lightweight unit that performs quite well and packs a decent amount of extra battery life for your phone. On the other, the build quality leaves much to be desired and it won't charge a tablet.

With that said, do I recommend the PortaCharge? It depends. If you need a way to charge your phone (or iPod, I suppose) while on-the-go without breaking the bank, this is a good unit - if you can accept sub-par build quality, that is. If you need something that will charge a tablet or are a stickler for perfection (as I am), however, I suggest that you look elsewhere.

Buy

PortaCharge from DroidAX for $49.95

Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, musician, and cyclist. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6-string, spinning on the streets, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • Statik

    Honest question: how is this any easier than just keeping a wall plugin charger with you? Anywhere I can think of wanting or needing phone/data service is going to be somewhere I'm able to get to a wall outlet. I'm just curious because I friggin love gadgets like this and it does seem like a reasonable price point, I just need to come up with a solid logical reason to buy it :)

    The only time I could think of something like this being handy is if you were on a long car ride or you were moving from place to place very very often, but even in the second case you can plug your phone in for a few minutes to get you to the next place if you're dying for some phone usage while on your whirlwind trip. I guess maybe if you forgot to charge your phone overnight and had to leave immediately? That seems like a pretty rare scenario though and I could probably stand to be without my phone for a few minutes til I get wherever I need to go.

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      I tether for an hour and a half each way every day on my way to work, and without one of these (I have the 8200mAh unit that I absolutely adore http://www.androidpolice.com/2011/08/06/deep-review-primo-power-core-8200-mah-portable-battery-pack-juice-when-you-need-it-and-a-whole-lot-of-it/), my Galaxy S II goes down 50% or more.

      At conferences or other places where I use lots of 4G, this thing's absolutely essential too.

      Plane rides - I play the shit out of all the games till I get it to 10%, then plug it in and switch to using the laptop.

      A unit like that charges at least 2-3 times faster than a USB connection on a laptop or PC, so it's almost always my preference on the go.

      I used to carry replacement batteries, now I just don't bother. Until Android can last for days, I'm going to love my portable power to death.

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      Oh, just the other day I was at a bar with some friends after work. One of them had a dying iPhone. Everyone's jaws literally dropped when I whipped out my fully charged Powercore that can recharge an iPhone 5 times over. By the time the 2nd beer was finished, his phone was already at 50%, and he was eternally grateful.

  • kokopello

    @Statik

    It really depends on the individual. It is handy for me in any number of situations. I sometimes forget to charge overnight so it is a nice way to get juice on the way into work (subway not car). Also it is useful on commuter train trips, which do not have power. A supplemental battery allows me to wifi tether for hours. Even in train stations and airports plugs can be hard to come by. Then there are conferences, where plugs are plentiful but so is demand.

  • OFI

    My Veho Pebble comes in at the same price point as this and sounds like it has much better build quality can't fault the feel of it at all
    It does hold a little less charge though and only has an LED indication for charge remaining.

    Either way, Great things to have. Ideal for travelling, or even just when you don't want to have a trailing cable.

    Brought mine along to a recent weekend long music festival and it proved to be very popular.

  • Rob

    If I were still commuting up to 2 hours one-way to work I'd definitely have a need for such a device. Also at conferences, I've found that while plugs are often plentiful the rooms (e.g. table proximity to power sources) are always a priority concern for the conference center staff or those presenting. :(

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      And if I'm tethering while sitting in the audience, forget about getting a plug.

  • Edd

    For Xmas I received (I'd asked for it) the Yoobao 11200ma. Its amazing! It charges itself by microusb, so I can charge both this and my S2 with the same cable, it has a five step indicator light, smart turn-off abilties, and most importantly has 2 USB outs, one 2a and one 1a.

    It comes with a micro USB cable, a micro usb charger, and a seperate USB cable with all the usual detachable heads. Only flaws : slightly heavier and larger than expected, tho not by much. But all that capacity! Over the top perhaps, so if you want more pocketable check out e.g. a powermonkey (although those models annoy me for no auto switch off and weak USB connections = possible to drain it easily without getting a charge).

    Sorry for bad formatting, writing on mobile!

  • Slighter

    @Statik - In the middle of nowhere on a jobsite with no power where we are putting in the power. Personally receptacles would be the only upside to work in cubicle
    I still use my old APC UPB10
    thanks for playing

  • Statik

    Interesting responses. Tethering killing the battery quickly makes sense, and pulling it out to impress people (especially those of the iPhone persuasion) is exactly the kind of excuse I need to justify the purchase lol.

    Sounds like it would pay for itself pretty quickly in "oh thank god"s.

  • steve

    Dear friend.
    We are professional mobile power charger manufacturer.
    Our products main about mobile power charger ,portable charger, solar charger, universal charger, car carries navigators, car carries mobile power, and digital products which have been widely used to all kinds of famous mobile , laptop , digital products and so on. We have a special R/D team, aiming at technical improvement , quality Management, and competitive price.
    As I know, you engaged in professional guard for mobile power charger area and then you must need professional charger equipment, so we are your excellent alternation.  
    And any question , Please freely let me know.

    Warm Regards
    Steve/
    Company: ShenZhen TuBao technology Co,Limited
    Skype: steve00038
    Tel: 86-0755-23031313
    Fax :86-0755-23031311
    Web: http://www.carbose.net

  • Brimstone

    "Honest question: how is this any easier than just keeping a wall plugin charger with you?"

    Well in the Army for many situations you'd need to drag a hundred mile long extension cord with you to use that 'wall plugin charger'.

  • RayG

    I got one of these to charge a 700mAh garmin Edge 500. Even allowing for 20% loss, I should get 6 charges out of it. I can only get 3.5. Either the charging circuitry is inefficient or the cells don't have the stated capacity.