Powertraveller were good enough to send me this to test and use for Lowland Rescue work last year, and it’s been sat in the back of my car and with me on many searches and a couple of holidays since.
Essentially, the Powergorilla is a battery pack for running BIG things for a couple of hours when you’re nowhere near a power outlet. My use has been to run a Sony Vaio or Asus laptop in the initial stages of a search to create mapping and strategy, before the generator has arrived on scene and been set up. I’ve also used it to charge an iPhone repeatedly when on a longer holiday.
The Powergorilla looks pretty monolithic in bad-ass metal casing with a grippy plastic ribbing on both sides. And if the old adage that the best designs are those which don’t need instruction books is true, then top marks to Powertraveller. This thing only has one button!
That one button switches on the pleasant blue LED window where a big, clear readout tells you that you have a full charge in an icon similar to those used on a phone, and an output voltage of 8.4V. A quick press of the button again changes this voltage up through 9.5V, 12V, 16V, 19V and 24V.
To charge the Powergorilla itself up, you get an AC adaptor with a set of different plugs (UK, US, Europe etc.) which makes it pretty adaptable as a travel companion for longer term use (and I guess cuts down on the economic logistics for their distributors!). And the top edge of the device has three labelled holes – IN, OUT and USB. You charge it via the IN… obviously. Super-neat is the ability to charge it using your own Laptop’s charger, and power your laptop at the same time. It senses the input voltage and adjusts itself accordingly, so in theory you can utilise any opportunity that you have to charge a device from a wall to charge the Powergorilla at the same time.
In terms of the OUT, this is where it gets a little more complicated – and that’s not Powertraveller’s fault. Because there are a huge array of different connectors used for different devices, they’ve supplied one of every common type of connector which can be popped on to the end of one of two cables. One cable is charging items via the USB socket (phones, I’d guess), and one is for charging via the OUT socket, which caters for everything from laptops to GPS to beard trimmers… you name it! They’ve even included a particularly awesome car cigarette socket so you could run a SatNav in a vehicle with no available socket.
This is the only downside of the kit – the sheer number of ‘bits’ that they’ve needed to supply, and the lack of any way to store them so they’re easy to sift through. The supplied plastic clamshell isn’t a long-term solution, and the neoprene bag that they supply is too tight to store Powergorilla, AC charger and bits together. I’d like to see a larger neoprene case, or a velcro-on side pouch for the bits. Inevitably, I think I’ve lost some of them. But then, maybe you’d be more organised than me and only carry out the adaptors you’d need.
That very minor gripe apart, the unit works pretty well. My laptop is very juice heavy and its own battery only gives me a couple of hours of play time before it sounds its clarion call and dies before I can save what I was doing. If I plug in the Powergorilla and get it doing its thing BEFORE my battery dies, it seems to give a couple of hours more life. In a less heavy use device I’d say you might be able to eke out the stated ‘up to 5 hours’ power.
It’s certainly been more than man enough to charge my iPhone 5 for a week’s worth of holiday without needing a top up.
And one thing of note – the Powergorilla holds its charge fantastically. I just dug it out of the car, where it’s been sat for over 2 months unused in the cold, and it still has a full charge. Incidentally, it also ships with a full charge, so it’s good to go right from the box!
At £150 it is an expensive investment, but dependent on your need it may be a good one. I’ve managed to flatten my car battery using an inverter, and have had a laptop jerry-rigged to run off a jump-starter pack before now, which filled me with dread. The Powergorilla just gives a more professional and dependable solution. And so long as you are organised and keep the correct adaptor tips in the right place, it’s a really neat solution for those who need adaptable power.