Portable chargers and I have something of a chequered history.
For a start, solar-powered chargers (in my opinion) serve as little more than expensive, fancy doorstops because in the time it takes for the UK sunshine to provide enough power for a single iPhone charge I could have trained my dog to take the phone and charging cable to the nearest pub and ask – in English – if he could plug it in for a while. I’d also give him a fiver for a pint of Doombar and a bag of crisps so he could pass the time while reading today’s FT and playing pool. I’d have also taught him to pick up a curry on his way back although Mrs Muz might have to place the order because teaching a dog to speak Indian might be a bit ambitious.
Solar chargers are useless on this fair isle, is what I’m essentially saying.
Then there are chargers which are primed in the more traditional way by plugging them in to a socket or a USB port to fill them up.
Again, these have proved to be a series of disappointments so far. The usual reason is the capacity because whereas the packaging tends to promise the moon on a stick (equivalent to about half a dozen charges), the reality is usually in the area of two-and-a-half charges before things just fizzle out and die. Closer inspection usually reveals that the claimed stats are for older phones that nobody uses any more and as I’m currently in the process of killing my iPhone 6 that’s all a bit meh for me.
Then there’s the problem with supplied charging cables. Apple devices tend not to appreciate non fruit-based cables so, even if they’re initially okay with whatever they’re coupled with, they eventually throw their toys out of the pram and refuse to cooperate.
So imagine how nervous it makes me to say that this VARTA Family Powerpack is… excellent.
As a pluggy-inny unit there’s no faffing around praying for good weather and although it takes a fair few hours to fill from empty I’ve consistently been getting six or seven full iPhone 6 charges from it which, shock horror, is exactly what the packaging tells me I should get (six, to be precise).
Weighing roughly the same as a hedgehog eating an apple it’s a little bit on the heavy side but that is easily forgivable given the performance, and it connects to your portable device of choice with the device’s own cable (there are two USB ports offering 1 and 2.4 amps so you can charge tablets and wotnot at the higher power), negating any compatibility issues further down the line. A provided micro USB cable means you can attach it to your computer to fill or any USB plug that you happen to have lying around the house.
As for issues… there are none. And that makes me fidgety because that’s not how these things go.
I can’t see much point in the tiny white LED torch by the power button and, yes, one of the five little blue LED charging lights has gone a bit iffy in the last couple of days, but so what? It’s not affecting the performance – and I have used the Varta a lot in the last couple of months.
I’d like to see a future incarnation offering somewhere integral to store the micro USB cable so it doesn’t go wandering, but that’s about it.
Unlike previous portable chargers I can see me using this for some time to come and because I’ve developed the habit of keeping it plugged in all of the time at home it’s always ready for use. Unless things go drastically wrong in the future other manufacturers are going to have to go some to beat it.