These days, when we hear the term “power bank,” we all know that we’re talking about a portable battery device that is typically charged using a USB power supply and that can supply power from its built-in battery via a USB port.
I’m not sure when these little rascals first hit the scene, although I’ve heard that a rudimentary version was displayed at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in 2001. I think it took a few years after that before they began to impinge on the mainstream consciousness.
Modern versions of these little scamps, of course, boast sophisticated electronic control systems that allow them to charge themselves as quickly as possible, and subsequently charge other devices as rapidly as possible, without suffering from any undesirable effects, like overheating and catching fire, for example.
I only vaguely remember when I first saw one of these little ragamuffins with my own eyes. I think it was at an Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) circa 2008. Since then, of course, the power bank market has exploded (in a good way).
Sometime around 2010, when I was doing a lot of travelling, I decided to invest in a power bank of my own — something I could use to charge my iPhone and iPad when I was on the road. Luckily for its creators, I can’t remember who made this device. I do recall that they didn’t charge me very much. In return, they provided me with a unit that didn’t charge my iThings very well (LOL).
To be honest, my early experiences didn’t really enthuse me to the power bank concept, but I have to say that, more recently — since I laid my hands on an Eggtronic Laptop Power Bank — I have become something of a convert.
With a 20,000 mAh capacity and 63 W capability, this bodacious beauty boasts three output ports that can charge three devices simultaneously: a 45 W USB Type-C Power Delivery port, a USB-A 3.x Quick Charge port, and a USB-A 2.x standard 2.1 A port.
I also like the true numeric display that shows exactly what percentage power remains (having 4 or 5 little dots or bars isn’t as useful as one might hope).
The folks at Eggtronic say this Power Bank can provide 4 to 8 charges for a smartphone, 3 to 5 charges for a tablet like an iPad, and 1.5 charges for a notepad or laptop computer. I haven’t performed any official tests myself, but based on my laissez-faire usage to date, I have no reason to doubt their word.
The USB Type-C port is also used to charge the power bank itself. Ideally, this would be accomplished using a USB Type-C wall wart power supply, which explains why the Power Bank is accompanied by a USB Type-C to USB Type-C cable. On the off chance you don’t have such a power supply — and I don’t — the Power Bank also comes equipped with a USB-A to USB Type-C adapter, thereby allowing me to use my existing USB-A wall warts.
Having said this, the preeminent wall wart in my collection is an iClever 4-Port Boostcube Charger. Each port can provide 2.4 amps at 5 volts = 12 watts (with a maximum of 8 amps = 40 watts for the unit as a whole). The Eggtronic power bank can accept more power than this for faster charging, so I just ordered a pair of 1-Port 18-watt Wall Chargers for $15.49 on Amazon Prime.
Returning to the Eggtronic power bank itself, this is reasonably small and weighs in at 1.1 lbs (0.5 kg), which isn’t feather-light, but it’s a relatively small incremental addition to all the stuff I habitually cart around in my backpack.
Although it has to be acknowledged that there are power banks available with higher capacity — I just saw one with a 50,000 mAh capacity that can charge six devices simultaneously — (a) I don’t actually have six devices that need charging, (b) I don’t want to spend $130 for a power bank, and (c) it weighs a hefty 2.8 lbs (1.3 kg), which is the same weight as a notepad computer (or two 12” iPad Pros).
The funny thing is that I’m not actually doing any travelling at the moment, so you may wonder why I’m so enthused about the Eggtronic power bank. Well, let’s take a trip back through time to the beginning of last week — I time I now think of as BE (“Before Eggtronic”). On arriving home from work, I would plug my iPhone into a wall wart to charge and then plonk myself down in my comfy command chair. This chair is located close to the center of the family room a long way from any walls (power supplies). Invariably, as soon as my bottom touched the cushion, someone would call or send a text message, meaning I’d have to get up again.
Next, I’d pick up my iPad pro to check on the day’s news, typically to discover that it too needed charging. Later in the evening, my wife (Gina the Gorgeous) might suggest we spend quality time watching some historical drama together — she’s currently deep into
(you can get the complete series on Apple’s iTunes store for only $39.99).
So, I’d put my headphones on and start watching, only to run out of juice at the most exciting part of the program, at which point there would be much gnashing of teeth and rending of garb, let me tell you.
Returning to the present, I now have my Eggtronic power bank sitting on the side table next to my command chair. When I return from work, I can set my iPhone to charging within arm’s reach. Similarly, if my iPad needs topping up at any time, my trusty Eggtronic is ready and willing to leap into action. Furthermore, just the other day, at a critical juncture when we were bouncing back and forth between channels, the controller for our Apple TV indicated it needed to be charged. No problemo, I just connected it to the Eggtronic and we were “off to the races.”
Now, at around $90, the Eggtronic Laptop Power Bank isn’t cheap, but it’s also not the most expensive unit of this caliber out there. Is it worth it? Well, I can’t speak for everybody, but — in my case — I would say, “Yes! 1,000 times yes!” I currently have enough stress in my life, so anything that can take the edge off the day and make my life even a little easier is worth its weight in bacon sandwiches. Furthermore, when I do start travelling again, you can bet that my trusty Eggtronic will be at my side.
My only problem now is that, just yesterday evening as I pen these words, Gina noticed my Eggtronic and asked what it was. When I explained, she looked at me with Bambi-like eyes and said in a plaintive voice, “I need one of those.”
I know which way the wind is blowing. When I return home this evening, I won’t be surprised to discover an empty space where my Eggrtonic used to be. I will try to be brave, but I can’t promise that there won’t be a little tear in the corner of my eye. I think I may have to invest in a second Eggtronic. In the meantime, as always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on all of this.