- Consumer Electronics & Personal Gadgets
LifeCHARGE JuicyPack with Foldable Tablet Stand Review
Current Power Banks
Power banks have become increasingly popular nowadays. After you make your phone purchase, what is the first thing you do? No, it's not equip yourself with a power bank. The first thing you do is put it in a case to protect it. What is the second thing you do? Yes, buy a power bank because you know very well your phone just can't last you throughout the day.
Enough with the generalizations. Yes, there are some exceptions like the OnePlus One or the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. Both are packed with higher capacity batteries. Speaking of higher capacities, tablets are the next stage up. For full time tablet users, you might be wondering why your tablet's battery life isn't much better than your smartphone's.
The answer is usage. With a much bigger screen, users tend to watch videos either downloaded or streamed more. Is a power bank necessary? I certainly say so especially if you're a heavy user. I admit it seems inconvenient, but that's probably because you're making the mental comparison with a mobile phone. The tablet is already pretty big spanning anywhere from 7-inches to 10-inches. Carrying another power bank is certainly not pleasant. To ease the unpleasantry, what if there was a power bank specifically designed for tablets?
Made for Tablets
I've looked everywhere...oh believe me, I've looked and I'm pretty certain that this is the only power bank with tablet stand out on the market today. What exactly is the difference between a regular power bank and one for tablet?
You could probably guess based on the image, but one distinct difference is the integrated tablet stand. Tablets are big and therefore heavy. It just isn't comfortable to hold especially for long periods of time. This is where an integrated tablet stand comes in. The LifeCHARGE JuicyPack for tablet fits just about every tablet. I tested it with a 10-inch tablet and had no issues whatsoever so I highly doubt it would have any fit problems with a smaller screen size.
5-volt DC 2.1A
5-volt DC 1A
I found the price very reasonable. For $69.99, you get a power bank capacity that is bigger than most on the market today. There are two ports so you can actually simultaneously charge a tablet and another device as well. This is especially advantage in the future when USB Type-C makes a debut. It was just announced at the Google I/O 2015 conference so we should begin seeing the roll-out from late-2015 on-wards. This is because the standardized port may also give you the opportunity to charge laptops like the New MacBook.
I don't think you can go wrong for this price. I admit the power bank is a bit bigger to accommodate the two hinges for the stand. However, it's a great accessory if you want to use your device hands free.
Unboxing: Front View
Here is the first look at the packaging with the ASUS Transformer tablet for scale. The packaging is pretty consistent with the LifeCHARGE brand. I've said this probably a million times already (not really), but keep the box. It's great for storage when the power bank is not in use. I admit the design of the packaging isn't as nice as some of its earlier packaging with the embedded magnets. I really hope they bring back the magnetic flap because it just makes unboxing so much easier and makes it the perfect solution for storage.
I haven't really noticed this before, but the top right corner is actually a meter with the "lightning bolt" and four slots making up a battery. This is a pretty simple and neat tool for you to see how big your power bank capacity is in comparison to the rest of the models. The rating is a 3 out of 4 which just means that there are power bank capacities that stretch even higher than this. The problem with a higher capacity is the size of the power bank. If you were to go any bigger, the size of the power bank will be even bigger. Let's not forget about the hinges at the sides. It isn't very clear right not, but I will show a picture later on in this review detailing how the hinges fit.
Unboxing: Back View
Another perk of LifeCHARGE power banks is the LED light. I own a few power banks from quite a few different brands. I just didn't get the chance to review all of them yet. I have to say that LifeCHARGE is one of the fewer power bank companies that focus on full fledged feature packed designs. I say this because you usually see two ports on their higher capacity power banks for the ability to charge multiple devices. Not only that, the LED light makes it a great emergency preparation tool. If you have one of those emergency kits at home, this power bank would make a great addition. Of course, you won't be using it to catch up on the latest Breaking Bad episode. Instead, it will give your phone a quick charge for you to make that emergency call.
The LED light is a great addition. I wouldn't say it is super bright. It's definitely brighter than your average key chain light, but not as bright as those heavy duty police flashlights. To be honest, I think this is perfectly alright. It provides enough night for you to navigate in the dark and does a pretty decent job with the illumination. Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of it in action as I haven't really relied on it much.
Unboxing: A Look Inside
The contents are quite standard. You have your micro-USB cable, instructions manual, and the power bank itself. I found it a bit odd at first that only one micro-USB cord was provided when two USB ports are present. Then I realized that the micro-USB cable included is for recharging the power bank via the micro-USB input.
Unfortunately, this means that you will have to supply the cords to your own devices. I don't find this too big of an issue because you should have at least one cord with a device you own. If you, like me, have a million cords lying around, then this won't be an issue for you. It would be best if you can use your OEM cord as cheaper no brand cords may have a quality issue that affects your charging experience.
Investing In A Good Charger
I can't stress this enough for safety reasons. Always avoid a cheap wall charger because their circuitry just doesn't have the same safety mechanisms as a branded charger. Even if the seller claims that the wall charger is OEM or Original Equipment Manufacturer, you can never really be certain.
A quick Google search for "dangers of cheap wall chargers" will explain it very nicely. There are quite a few horror stories of phones oozing acid or houses almost burned down due to the cheap chargers. A high quality branded charger will take greater care in isolating the high voltage components to prevent overheating or electrocution. This is something cheaper chargers don't take into consideration.
I'm personally a fan of Anker chargers. These have been met by thousands of positive reviews including my own. They work extremely well offering the fastest charge possible, but complies with the very best safety standards. Of course, you can most definitely use the wall charger that came with your phone or tablet provided that it comes from one of the major brands. By major brands, I mean Apple, Samsung, LG, ASUS, etc. They put much more care into the making of the wall chargers.
In case you do not have one readily available or want to have a multi-charger, here are some recommendations below.
Using the Power Bank
After you have purchased or found a quality wall charger, you can put the power bank into good use. I usually like to charge my device with whatever juice is left in the power bank. I will bring the capacity to 0% before doing a full charge on the power bank. This is a good way to do an initial calibration to make sure that the LED battery level indicators align with the true capacity.
As you can see above, this power bank features a wide a base. This is because your tablet will be much larger than the cradle of this power bank. In order to prevent the tablet and power bank from tilting over, this wide platform is necessary. Another thing you'll notice is that the two hinges are quite big. I feel that this is necessary in order to offer enough resistance to keep the tablet at the angle you want it. You can think about it this way. The bigger the axles, the greater the surface area. This translates into a much better "grip" or resistance so you can keep the viewing angle you want.
The battery indicator is pretty standard. This is your typical 4 LED light battery indicator. Naturally, this means each LED indicator represents a 25% battery level. Given the capacity, this power bank should charge your tablet at least twice. This provides a good estimation as to when you need to recharge the power bank.
There is one issue I see with this power bank. The design of this power bank features the two USB outputs on the same side. Now most tablets do not have the micro-USB inputs in the same location. If your ports are on the opposite ends, it is a bit awkward to be carrying a longer than necessary cord. Of course, you could always re-orient the tablet. However, you may be faced with software limitations with navigation.
As you can see, there are sponge padding on several key areas. This is where the stand actually makes contact with your tablet. In case your tablet has a scratchable back, the sponge pads will prevent this from happening. However, I doubt your tablet will scratch even with plastic on plastic contact.
On first feel, you will notice that one of the two flats is metal and the other is plastic. I'm not actually sure why it is like this. I would have expected both of them to be metal in order to offer greater stability. However, this does add more weight as you are carrying it around. Never the less, this is a choice of materials. The metal plastic flap combination seems to be pretty solid.
The benefit of this tablet is the multiple view angles. There are several angles you can use to your preference. Keep in mind that the height will vary especially due to the weight of the tablet. Make sure you screw in the side in order to tighten the axles to prevent the tablet from weighing the stand down. The stand flipping over isn't really much of an issue.
I actually didn't know about the tightening of the axles until much later. When I was using this stand, I had the flap touching the table and the actual power bank depending on my preferred viewing angles. I eventually found out that this can be raised for a much more comfortable view.
Using A Tablet
Yes, I know! The screen should be facing forward not the current way. I took this picture with the screen against me because of the glare that came with it. Nevertheless, this picture shows one of the more comfortable viewing angles. Clearly this power bank is able to hold up a 10.1-inch tablet.
The two hooks on the bottom actually do not affect your usage experience. This is because there is usually a black bezel around the screen so the two hooks do not actually lap over the actual screen.
I do want to give a warning though. This power bank actually does not work with the ASUS Transformer tablet. Apparently this is a power issue. There just isn't enough voltage coming out of the power bank to support the ASUS tablet. In fact, I learned that not any adapter can be used with the ASUS tablet. It has to be the ASUS specific adapter. I found no trouble with the Nexus tablets. I have not tried this on the Samsung tablets, but it does work with my Samsung Galaxy smartphone so this is a good indication that it will be compatible. As of right now, it seems to be only incompatible with the ASUS line.
I found the quality to be amazing. I do not give it full rating just because I would have liked to see the cords provided or integrated cords like the LifeCHARGE Source 101 edition. The orientation of the ports also lost a bit of points in my book because it really requires you to use a longer than necessary cord. The capacity isn't the highest, but offers a good two recharges and therefore tripling the usage time of your device. In relation to the power banks on the market, this is by far very affordable. The size definitely lost points because the wider base and two axles add a bit of weight and width to it.
Is it a worthy buy? I would only consider this power bank for tablet usage. It is way too bulky to carry around to recharge your smartphone on-the-go. It is definitely a worthwhile addition for your tablet.