Power sources while traveling can and will always be a pain to find. Airports have outlets few and far between, and trade shows are usually worse still. For the mobile device user who relies on battery power, this will frequently be the cause of much stress on the road.
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One option is bulking up on spare batteries, but that might not be an option for every device. The other option is a universal power source, providing both AC power and DC power from its own internal battery. Energizer’s solution to this problem is the Energi To Go Portable Power Outlet.
Thanks to its single AC outlet and two USB ports, this portable charger worked great for a wide range of devices. Some of Energizer’s estimated runtime claims were on the high side, but it was better than nothing.
Powering my Lenovo T60 notebook, it managed to operate for 50 minutes. With a Dell 1525, the runtime was better, coming in at 70 minutes. With a living room lamp drawing 50w of power, it worked for just under 45 minutes.
Setup for the Portable Power Outlet involves simply plugging it into a wall to charge, and nothing more. When the red charging indicator on the power switch turns off the outlet is ready to power your devices.
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You also have the option of charging the device inside an automobile with the included 12v power jack.
To use the Portable Power Outlet for AC powered devices, the instructions tell you to turn the device on for 5-10 seconds, and then plug in your device. This method does not work for me, and it will only turn on the AC output if I have the device plugged in while the outlet is off, then I turn it on.
The outlet would also not work with some notebook power adapters, mainly Dell branded 65w and 90w adapters. These would be powered for a few seconds, and then quickly shut off.
Another issue that cropped up after a handful of uses was the inability to power many AC devices that consumed more than 30watts of power. I had to turn on and off the unit numerous times before it finally started to work.
Noise was also a concern, with a cooling fan that sounded more like a weedwacker. A sound clip of this fan in action when powering an OLPC can be found here.
The last problem with this power source is its incompatibility with older transformer-based power adapters. One particular adapter for an old weather station was shorted out upon being plugged into the power source. The weather station was not damaged, just the adapter for it.
All new switching-style adapters worked flawlessly. This may be a problem with inverters in general, with the modified sine wave output, instead of a true sine wave source like your home or office.
In concept a very lightweight inverter with battery is a great idea. So far, in practice the offerings might need a bit of work. The Energizer Energi To Go Portable Power Outlet worked great with a handful of devices at first, but then ran into some problems with noise, compatibility problems, and had trouble turning on.
Right now I am not sure if I would recommend it without knowing if some of these problems could be fixed in a later revision.
- Charges from AC wall adapter or inside car
- Simple to operate
- May not work with some older devices