Accessory Corner #3 - Energizer XP18000 and XP8000 Battery Pack
Powering my devices is often at times a challenge, especially on days when I am out from morning to evening, I happen to be miles away from my car and/or I don't have a power outlet nearby. Do these two battery packs meet the requirements of powering my gear effectively or do they fall short? I was very surprised by the results I found.
PROS: Size/weight, connection flexibility, ultimate utility value
CONS: Expensive compared to device batteries, unable to handle larger loads, free tips not really free
Battery power has always been an issue for mobile tech junkies, myself included. Usually I would solve the problem by buying a second battery for my device or drag a power cord along and play outlet squatter. The problem with the latter is that outlets aren't always where you want them to be, or free when you get there. The problem with buying 2nd batteries is that they become obsolete when your device kicks the bucket. If you happen to go through a lot of devices, buying spare batteries for each one becomes an expensive proposition.
Another issue is that sometimes you cannot swap batteries in the middle of your work. Notebooks/netbooks require you to hibernate - that can be a problem if it means interrupting a file download/upload, stopping a presentation or cutting off a video conferencing session. Likewise, smartphones require you to perform a hard shutdown in order to safely remove the battery, or perform a soft reset after every battery insertion. It also means interrupting any important calls you may be on. I in fact ended up with a phone a while back that would wipe all it's data when the battery was removed - that was no fun I can tell you.
Ah, but some of you out there will say: what about if I buy an "extended capacity" battery? True, extended capacity batteries do eliminate the need to stop your work and swap (until they also run dry), but they carry two other disadvantages. First, they increase the weight of your devices, a consideration when you need to carry something around in one hand for any length of time. Second, they will also make your devices much thicker, leaving some smartphones for example impossible to fit in their belt cases and docking cradles.
Welcome the Energizer XP18000 and XP8000. Device running low on juice? Simply plug into the Energizer battery pack and carry on. No need to shut down. No need to remove batteries. It works the same way as your AC adapter, except without the cord and the outlet.
I've always had car chargers for my phones, but there often came times when I was away from my car and needed power for my phone. The XP8000 is the perfect 2nd battery. It's not much bigger in size than a Blackberry, reasonably light, easy enough to fit in a pocket, yet can provide 8000mAh at 5 volts to charge and power any smartphone. You read that right - any smartphone. The tips included work with multiple brands, meaning if you change phones you need not buy a new battery. That's great with some people today buying new smartphones every time they get a new haircut!
It also means you can easily plug in during the middle of a phone conversation and avoid dropping the call due to your phone battery dying - something that can be a particular embarrassment, especially when dealing with important clients who try to then call you back, and can't. How many times have we had that happen?
When traveling for extended periods, you can bring the AC adapter for the Energizer battery along, rather than bring your phone's adapter. This lets you charge both your phone and your battery overnight at the same time. During the day, you can plug in the XP8000 and charge a dead phone in your pocket wherever you may be. On testing with my HTC Touch Pro 2 (GSM), the XP8000 was able to provide a full recharge at least 4 times. That should easily get you through a full 12-hour day of intense 3G data use and multimedia streaming - nice if you have an unlimited data plan! Alternatively, that's like 4 days of non-stop lip service, or close to a full month on standby, away from a power source. It's this kind of flexibility and utility that makes mobile power packs so amazing.
Enter the XP18000. At around twice the size and weight of the XP8000, this unit provides a much more beefy 18,000mAh of power, and is designed to power notebooks. The sad fact is that this li-poly heavyweight was brought to it's knees by a humble netbook.
It's important here to understand the difference between how the Energizer battery powers devices versus your removable battery. Much like an AC adapter, the XP18000 powers and charges your device. This means that when plugged in and your netbook is turned on, it will be operating at maximum power. Examine your netbook's AC adapter, and you will notice a rating of maybe 65W. In comparison, the XP18000 has a 70WH capacity. In other words, the XP18000 will completely deplete itself in one hour running a 70W load. I should have realized that the numbers don't lie - I was very surprised when I plugged it into my netbook and had the netbook turned on that the fully charged XP18000 would run dry after one hour. Even more disappointing was that within that hour, it was incapable of fully charging the netbook's battery. Don't toss your AC adapter just yet!
The situation was not much better when the XP18000 was used to charge the netbook turned off. While it did get through one full charge on testing with a Toshiba NB305 netbook, the Energizer pack was incapable of providing a second full charge. That basically relegated it to the performance level of just a one 2nd removable battery. At $179, the XP18000 is priced almost twice as much as a NB305 battery ($99). It's clear then, that you would get better bang for your buck buying a spare NB305 battery for just $99 and match the XP18000 in run time. And I didn't even mention that netbook batteries are much smaller and lighter to carry.
This drives home the point that netbooks still draw rather large amounts of power, even the most nimble Pinetrail systems running max battery settings. You would think 18,000 mAh sounds like a lot of juice for a battery, but the DC input jack works on 19V in order to supply power to the system board, charging circuit, attached devices (hard drive, memory, wifi mini-pci board, external USB gear), and then feed juice into the netbook's battery. Consider also that anywhere from 10%-15% of that power is lost/converted to heat, and you begin see why the XP18000 came up so short. The common rule, when you look at all of this, still applies - if you need extra power for your netbook on the go, you HAVE to invest in a spare removable netbook battery.
What, then, can the XP18000 be used for? Think external 3.5" hard drive, external full-size optical drive or other devices that need DC power from a wall wart. At 70WH it can comfortably run most smaller portable devices for at least an hour, and with it's USB port, can still be used to charge smartphones, mp3 players, digital cameras or other gadgets that use USB for charging. Indeed, if you take notebooks and netbooks out of the mix, the XP18000 opens up more interesting usage options.
Both the XP18000 and XP8000 come with tips suitable for an array of devices, but if you happen to have one of those funky jacks on your gadget that doesn't work with the USB or barrel tips provided, Energizer claim they will send you the guaranteed right tip for free. The catch is they will unashamedly charge you for shipping, which they don't disclose until you order, and which can run as much as $5 or $7 per tip. Kind of a rip-off, considering you've already spent $179 on the battery.
I was very impressed with the performance and utility of the XP8000 for use with my Touch Pro 2. The ability to provide multiple charges anywhere, along with the fact that it can easily go on your belt makes it a must-have accessory for the power-hungry mobile guru. Need to tether all day on 3G? Check. Want to watch movies all day? Now you can! Never be forced to drop your call due to a dead battery again. It's compatibility with any phone model thanks to multiple tips (including iPhone) makes it a great future-proof investment. At $99 the XP8000 doesn't come cheap, but considering what it can do for your smartphone, this is by far the best battery you can get. I'm keeping this!
In comparison, the XP18000 was a disappointment. Had I been able to obtain two full charges from my netbook turned off, or one full charge turned on, my experience would have been far more positive. But the fact that Energizer advertises this product to power notebooks, when it cannot even handle the power requirements of a basic netbook, leaves something to be said. On the other hand, if you've been wanting to take your 2TB 3.5" external drive on the go, or need to charge a digital camera somewhere out in the wild far away from modern civilization, the XP18000 could prove seriously useful.