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Duracell Personal Power

I love gadgets. Gadgets are brilliant. But sometimes my gadgets just don’t last long enough on their battery life.

Duracell has introduced a range of new personal power products, designed to help us go beyond the usual limits of our devices.  The range includes portable chargers, battery chargers, rechargeable batteries and long life disposable batteries.  I have been sent a selection of the new range to try out.

Duracell 5-Hour Portable Charger

The new portable charger range is designed for convenient mobile charging in a small enough product that you can keep in your bag.  This 5-hour charger powers from a traditional plug socket.  Once fully powered you can charge up to two devices whilst on the go – and the detachable plug means it is small and thin and light to carry around.  It is for devices that charge via USB such as smartphones, MP3 players, e-readers, digital cameras and other similar items.  The charger comes with a USB to mini-USB cable and micro USB tip, or you can use the cable that came with your gadget.

Duracell 5-Hour Portable Charger

Duracell have tested this and found that it can give the iPhone4 an extra five hours talk time, hence the name.

I gave it a try (of course).  My iPad was on 30% battery when I plugged it into my fully charged Portable Charger.  After 30 mins (without using the iPad at the same time although it was connecting to wifi and I was receiving email and twitter notifications by the dozen) my battery was showing 41%, and there was still charge left in the charger – so an increase of 11%.   I allowed it to charge for another half an hour, this time with my iPhone plugged into the other side too (again without using either device while they were plugged in), and the iPad went from 41% to 45% while the iPhone went from 81% to 87% – not quite as much but the juice was being used by both gadgets at once.

Added: On another occasion I plugged my iPhone with 39% battery left into the fully-charged Portable Charger, and it charged to 100% with a little juice (one bar) left in the charger.  I was really impressed by that.

Once I’d used all the power in the charger I found it took a while to charge again, I plugged it in and ended up leaving it overnight.

Duracell 5-Hour Portable Charger

Maybe you’re going away for one night, camping or something, and so won’t have access to “real electricity”… use this to charge your iPhone, Kindle, digital camera or even sat nav (if it charges via USB this will work).  Obviously you can’t charge everything all at once, and the power within the device is limited, but it’s really useful for top ups.  I can imagine myself carrying this as a “just in case” for long trips or days out when it would be a disaster if I ran out of power on one device or another.

Duracell Speedy Charger and Rechargeable Batteries

The new Speedy Charger is designed to charge AA and AAA rechargeable batteries really quickly.  Like any other battery charger you simply put your batteries into the case and plug it in… two batteries charge in one hour, and four batteries charge in two hours.

Duracell Speedy Charger

I used this with the Duracell AA 1700mAh Rechargeable Batteries that I was also sent.  These are designed to be used and charged repeatedly, up to 400 times in fact, which saves a lot of money long term.  I got excellent use from these batteries, it’s difficult to quantify it but I’d say they lasted slightly longer than the disposable batteries I normally use before I needed to charge them.  When I did charge them I did all four at the same time and they took just over two hours, it’s a real bonus that they charge so quickly.

The charger itself is small and compact.  It “unfolds” to reveal where the batteries go for charging, meaning it takes up very little space when you need to store it.

Duracell Speedy Charger with Rechargeable Batteries

There are two other sorts of rechargeable battery available in the range, the Supreme are 2450mAh and the LSD Staycharfed are 2000mAh.  The latter are capable of retaining their charge for up to a year when not in use, which is quite impressive.

Duracell AA Plus Power Disposable Batteries

Batteries are batteries right?  The Plus Power range (available in AAA, AA, C and D sizes) is said to offer long lasting and reliable power for your everyday needs.  You should choose the right battery depending on what you are wanting to charge – for Duracell it goes Simply Duracell, Plus Power, Ultra Power and Ultra Lithium.  For these ones think remote controls, CD players, battery powered toys, torches, toothbrushes and so on.  In fact mine are doing a great job in the battery powered light we have in the loft.

Duracell Plus Power AA Batteries

You can see the full new Duracell range on their website.

Year in Photos (20 Oct 11) – Electric Car Charging in Lincoln

Remember this?

Lincoln, and in fact Lincolnshire, got a scathing review by BBC’s Top Gear for having no charging points for electric cars.

But look what I saw outside the Engineering Hub at the University of Lincoln this evening. This is indeed an electric car charging point, just like the one mentioned here on Autoblog Green and here on the Siemens website.  Is the University taking part in Project 4-S?  Very interesting.

Thursday 20th October 2011

20/10/11: Need a blogger to test the car that goes with this thing?!

Electric Cars, Top Gear and Lincoln

Lunch time today took a completely different turn to what I’d planned when I got a text message to say there had been sightings of the Top Gear crew in Lincoln.  I was on my way out of the office anyway (this was 1pm) so I thought I’d go and see if I could find them.  Well I didn’t have to walk far… a few metres from the door and I’d found them – just the other side of the level crossing.

Top Gear in Lincoln - Echo

Top Gear in Lincoln - Level Crossing

It transpired that the three presenters were road testing electric cars, and had planned on passing Lincoln by until they realised they were nearly out of juice – so they went to the council offices to ask if there was anywhere to charge.  Nope!  Eventually Jeremy in his Nissan Leaf ran out of wiggly amps outside the Lincolnshire Echo offices on the Brayford.  Did anyone have any spare electricity?  The Echo didn’t (although they had a tow rope), the British Heart Foundation didn’t, the Marina gates were locked… who came to the rescue with an extension lead?  The University :)

Top Gear in Lincoln - Crowd

Top Gear in Lincoln - James and Jeremy

So James May and some onlookers pushed Jeremy onto campus, and eventually all the way to the main entrance… although the car wouldn’t fit through the doors.  James then went and got his Peugeot iOn to join him.  When I left the building (lunch break being over) the two cars were sat plugged into extension leads – one into the University Reception and the other into the University Shop.  Knowing it would take hours and hours for the cars to charge, Jeremy and James spent the afternoon in Lincoln – Prezzo and the Castle being on their whistle stop tour.

Top Gear in Lincoln - Pushing the Nissan

Top Gear in Lincoln - Cars on Campus

Top Gear in Lincoln - Will it Fit?

Top Gear in Lincoln - Plugging In

Top Gear in Lincoln - Fed Up

Top Gear in Lincoln - Piece to Camera

I did hear someone say that Richard Hammond was supposed to be there but hadn’t made it yet… maybe he ran out of leccy somewhere else?

Obviously we won’t know the full story until the edited programme is aired in June or July (it will be part of the new series coming soon), but let’s hope Lincoln features at least a little bit, and not just because we don’t have any electric car charging stations in the city (or county).

Powermat for iPhone

I was lucky enough to recently win a Powermat thanks to a competition run on Twitter by Powermat in the UK.  I’ve been using it for a little while now and I thought it was about time I brought my thoughts to the readers of Splodz Blogz.

Powermat for iPhone

I was sent the Complete System for iPhone4, which included a small Powermat, an iPhone4 case, and the necessary other bits to make it work.  It arrived very quickly – the next working day in fact, I was impressed.  The model I got retails at £49.99 from the Powermat UK website.

Powermat for iPhone

Powermat is a wireless charging device for phones and other devices that works using magnetic alignment between the Powermat and a receiver, which in my case was inside the iPhone4 case provided.  This product only works for the iPhone4, but Powermat also do mats for Blackberry, Nintendo DS, iPhone 3GS and also mats to charge multiple devices.

It’s a great idea.  I see it as working rather like my electric toothbrush charges – it just sits on the charger (which itself is plugged into the wall) with no wires or metal bits showing.  I imagined having the mat part sat on my desk at work, and just laying my iPhone on it when I’m there, topping up the charge without having to worry about having a charger in the office or carrying one around with me.

Powermat for iPhone

When in the case (I’ll come to that shortly), the iPhone4 sits on the mat really nicely.  This version of the mat has raised corners so there is no chance the iPhone can slip off the mat, and the whole thing looks really great sat on my desk – quite stylish.  My iPhone charged in a similar length of time as when plugged into the mains using the official Apple charger (much faster than when charging using the USB cable in my computer) – it went from 28% to 100% in just over an hour and a half.

Powermat for iPhone

When you place the iPhone on the mat a white light turns on and a short “I’m connected” audio cue sounds.  This satisfies the inner geek in me – I know it’s working.  There is also an opposite audio cue when you take the iPhone off the mat – an “I’m not connected anymore, is that ok?” kind of thing.  The only problem is everyone else in the office also knows when I’ve just put my iPhone on the mat… and when I’ve picked it up to read a text message… and when I’ve put it back on the mat again… and so on.  A little annoying for my colleagues – and me.  It says on the Powermat website that the volume of the audio cue can be changed but I couldn’t see any mention of this in the instruction manual and a Google search came up with nothing.  I have tweeted Powermat and will update this when I’ve had a reply.

Like I say, the whole system looks really great – design has been considered carefully.  My main gripe, though, is with the case.  I find it is just too big and clumsy – it’s slippery and awkward to hold.

Powermat for iPhone

Powermat for iPhone

Powermat for iPhone

It’s easy to put the iPhone into the case – it is hinged near the top which enables you to push the phone into the case and onto the docking connection at the bottom, before clipping the top of the case shut.  But as a case for a beautifully designed mobile phone goes, it really doesn’t do it justice.  The main reason is the the size – does the Powermat receiver built into the case really have to make it so bulky?

Powermat for iPhone

You can see the case alongside my preferred case above (a smoke-coloured Incase snap case), and just how much bigger it is.  You can also see the angled edges and the high-shine plastic finish which makes it really slippery and therefore not feeling particularly safe and secure in my hands.  I so want it to look and feel better.

Powermat for iPhone

Also, while the case has cutouts for the camera and volume controls, the lack of a docking connector at the bottom means I can’t use it in my Bose Soundock without taking it out of the case.  Powermat have put a useful micro USB connection in the bottom of the case (a micro USB to USB cable supplied with the kit) so I can connect it to my computer for updates, but this doesn’t help me play my music in my kitchen.

If I’m honest this is a case that I would rather not have on my iPhone at all.  It’s something I will keep in the office to use when I’m there alongside the Powermat itself (I can’t use the Powermat without it).  This is a shame as ideally I would like to keep the same case on my iPhone all the time.

Powermat for iPhone Power Adapter

My favourite bit of design, which probably makes me a bit of a nerd, is the power adapter (yes that is what I said).  A lot of thought has obviously gone into it to allow the cable to coil nicely around the adapter, and then fix together using the little hook at the end of the cable so it doesn’t come unravelled.  While this makes the power adapter a little larger than is perhaps completely necessary, I often find that on electrical items that need a power cable that is not always plugged in it is the cable (or rather the point at which the cable meets the plug) that wears out first.  This design means that the cable is kept in pristine condition, free from breaks.  I would happily sacrifice a little space in my bag or drawer for this really neat way of looking after the cable.  ALL chargers should be designed like this!

Powermat for iPhone

I do like my Powermat and have been using it at work and home and will continue to do so, but I feel that more thought needs to be put into the case for the iPhone4 which could serve the product much better with a few modifications.  As a concept I love it, but in practice it isn’t working in the way I’d hoped.  Perhaps Apple can be persuaded to put receivers inside the iPhone5 and then all we’ll need is the mat itself?  Now that would be efficient charging.


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