Monday, March 26, 2007

Pocket Power: Is that a battery in your pocket, or are you happy to see me?

This is a preview, not a review.
Vector’s Pocket Power is a portable, rechargeable, compact, lightweight battery pack that can be used to recharge or run all kinds of electronic gear, when you have no convenient electrical outlet. It’s good for hiking, a day at the beach, sporting events, a table at a bar mitzvah, a line for concert tickets, even a taxicab or an airplane.

You can even use it to make your neighbors jealous by lighting up part of your home for a few minutes during a blackout; and it will work as a battery charger for gadgets that have a USB connector if you do have a working electrical outlet, but you forgot to bring your normal charger.

Battery power is closely tied to battery size and weight (that’s why electric cars have had problems with weak acceleration and short distances between charges), but the Pocket Power designers seem to have arrived at a good compromise.

It’s small and light enough to schlep around, but probably not in a pants pocket, unless you're wearing cargo pants. It has enough juice to be useful for most portable electronics: cellphones, PDAs, cameras, iPods, CD players, games, etc. Run time ranges up to about six hours, depending on power demand. Things with motors, like CD players and tape-based camcorders, use more power than devices with no moving parts. Pocket Power could power your desk lamp, but only for a few minutes. Forget about plugging in a plasma.

The unit get its power from a standard 110 volt outlet (or even a 110 volt inverter in a car), stores the power in a 1.2AH NiMH battery pack, and it puts the power out through both a 5 volt USB port and a standard 110 volt electrical outlet.

Pocket Power weighs less than a pound, comes with a travel pouch, and is a great idea. It sells for less than $35 at Sam’s Club, and maybe other stores.

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