Portable power bank roundup

Power Banks are one of those cheap but incredibly handy devices that help heavy smartphone and tablets users make it through a day.

The biggest models are all 10,000mAh or more, and some can even charge laptops and other devices. For those who like to stay connected when camping, look for waterproof or robust models and those with built in torches. There is even a growing range of power banks that can be used to jumpstart a car.

It’s also worth noting that the laptop compatible power banks available in Australia can’t charge Apple notebooks, with the exception of the USB Type-C equipped MacBook.

We tested by mimicking an extended phone charge to make sure you get the capacity you pay for. Beware cheap unbranded power banks, which almost universally overstate their capacities.

Due to the conversion efficiency of charging, most power banks deliver less than their rated capacity, but some with high-quality cells actually provide more.

Comsol Laptop Power Bank

NP200With a massive 20,000mAh capacity, the Comsol Power Bank can give a full recharge to most laptops, or bring a phone back to life up to 10 times.

It’s a dense but thin metal-clad slab of battery that weighs in at 562 grams by itself. The unit has a range of adaptors for most brands and outputs 19v at up to 3A, which will replace most adaptors up to 65W.

The Comsol only has a single USB port, but on the plus side, it supports 2.1A fast charging. In USB testing, an excellent 99% of the capacity was accessible. The unit uses a separate power pack to recharge in about four hours, but it’s an annoying bulky extra when travelling.

The Comsol power bank can also switch to 16v, but more usefully, 12v. This allows it to directly power a huge range of devices, such as a modem during a blackout.

No need to shop around — the Comsol power bank is exclusively available from OfficeWorks for $149.

Verdict: A quality option with excellent capacity.

Price: $149
From: Officeworks

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Dell Power Companion

Dell 12,000 milliampere-hour Portable Power Companion, model PW7015M with Dell Latitude 14 5000 Series (Model E5450) notebook computer, codename Houston 14.

Dell 12,000 milliampere-hour Portable Power Companion, model PW7015M with Dell Latitude 14 5000 Series (Model E5450) notebook computer, codename Houston 14.

Dell protects its laptops from dodgy chargers with a microchip that won’t engage charging unless it’s an authorised adaptor.

Unfortunately, this means the otherwise excellent Comsol Power Bank won’t work on the newer Dell laptops, despite having the right plug tip. Fortunately, Dell has its own options, which are excellent, and fairly well priced.

The Power Companion is available as a smaller 12,000mAh battery, weighing 293 grams, or a longer 18,000mAh option at a heftier 384 grams.

The unit plugs between the normal input and the charger, and automatically tops up the laptop first before charging itself. It also has dual USB ports for smartphones and tablets.

The Power Companion charges very quickly, and doesn’t need a wall charger of its own. However, the laptop part will only work with Dell products.

In testing, we pulled 101% of the capacity from the 12,000mAh model over USB.

Verdict: A high-quality option for Dell laptop owners.

Price: $139.30
From: Dell

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Jaycar Waterproof Power Bank

Power banks are incredibly useful devices when off grid, such as camping, but also contain sensitive electronics that need to stay dry.

The Jaycar MB3728 power bank removes any worry by being fully waterproof with an IP67 rating. That means you can dunk it in water up to a metre deep for 30 minutes. It’s also dust and shock-proof, with a tough outer shell that can take extra punishment. It’s also got rubber flaps over the various ports to help keep the elements at bay.

The power bank has a 10,400mAh capacity, with dual USB ports, one of which supports fast 2A charging. In testing, around 96% of the listed capacity is useable, which is a great result.

The unit charges via microUSB and takes about 5.5 hours to fill up from dead flat. Capacity is shown via four LEDs, activated by pressing the power button.

The Jaycar power bank measures in at a fairly compact 145 x 75 x 25mm and weighs 300 grams.

Verdict: More expensive than a normal power bank, but with excellent peace of mind protection.

Price: $99.95
From: Jaycar

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Kogan Universal Power Bank

KAPWB20LAPA1Designed to power up just about any device imaginable, the Kogan power bank directly outputs 5v, 12v, 16v and 19v. It also includes 27 different adaptor tips (24 for laptops) to ensure compatibility.

The power bank packs a 20,000mAh battery and has a single 2A port for charging USB devices. In testing, we measured 95% of the listed capacity as usable, which is a solid result after normal efficiency losses. The unit happily charged just about every laptop we tried, except the latest Dell models.

The 19v output can provide 3.5 amps, and will replace power supplies under 65W. The included adaptors can even be used to run 12v to compatible devices, such as camera battery chargers.

The Kogan unit charges from an included 12v PSU, which is faster than USB, but an extra item to bring when travelling. The power bank is clad in aluminium, and measures in at 175 x 124 x 25mm and weighs 646 grams.

Verdict: An affordable way to keep power flowing to all your devices.

Price: $99
From: Kogan

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Laser Power Bank

150806_LASER Co_Portable Power Bank and Car Jump StarterAt first glance, the Laser is a compact but long, black power bank with a hefty 12,000mAh capacity.

It has a very useful party trick, though — it can jump start a car. Not just a little four cylinder either, the Laser puts out 400 CCAs. It comes with a pair of chunky alligator clips that plug into the device, plus a handy carry case.

The Laser also has a single USB port that can output 2.1A for fast charging. In testing, 97% of the capacity is available via USB and it can top up most smartphones five times or more.

The unit also has a built-in 86 lumen LED torch (with strobe function) that can keep on shining for an impressive 120 hours.

The Laser charges via micro USB, so it needs to be plugged in overnight to top back up from empty. It comes with both a 240v and 12v car charger, plus a multi-adaptor cable.

Verdict: A high-capacity power bank like no other.

Price: $129.95

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Jackery Giant Plus

Enlarged-jackery-giant-powerpack-imageSqueezing some extra electrons into a sleek shell, the Giant Plus offers 12,000mAh capacity.

It has two USB ports, one of which supports 2.1A fast charging. It charges via micro USB, and topping it up from dead flat takes around seven hours.

In our stress testing, the Jackery performs quite well, and can provide 95% of its listed capacity. That’s enough to charge most smartphones at least five times, and bring a tablet back to life twice.

The Giant part of the name mostly refers to the capacity, as the power bank is a relatively compact 110 x 79 x 20mm. It’s also ideal for dropping in a pocket or carrying when on the go, as it only weighs 295 grams.

The unit also has a dual LED torch, which, while it isn’t blindingly bright, can run for an insane 700 hours from a full charge.

The Giant Plus can be bought straight from JB-HiFi, but it’s significantly cheaper directly from the Jackery website.

Verdict: A compact and quality power bank with capacity that’s better than most.

Price: $60
From: Jackery

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Romoss Solo 5

romoss-solo-5Rather than more premium metal, the Solo 5 is wrapped in impact resistant plastic. Hiding inside is a 10,000mAh capacity, of which around 91% is available for real world use at 1A draw.

The power bank has both a 1A and a 2A USB port and supports fast charging for tablets and compatible smartphones. It can charge at 2A as well (via microUSB), and tops up in around six hours, but uses your phone charger.

In normal use, the Solo 5 can charge a smartphone up to five times, and restore a tablet at least once. It has a handy four LED indicator so you can see how much charge remains at the touch of a button.

While the Romoss power bank doesn’t have any extra bells and whistles, it’s quite affordable and gets the job done without any fuss.

The Solo 5 also has a bigger brother — the 16,000mAh Solo 6. It’s about $20 more expensive, but works out about the same price per mAh.

Verdict: Cheap and simple power on the go.

Price: $35
From: Anyware

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Thermaltake LUXA2 P-MEGA

DSC_1663For the times that a normal power bank just won’t do, the P-MEGA has a crazy 41,600mAh capacity. That is enough to charge many smartphones 20 times.

That’s a little overkill, so the unit actually has six USB ports to handle a whole bevy of devices at once.

The P-MEGA isn’t just for show either — over a marathon two-day testing session, we found it actually has more than the listed capacity available.

The P-MEGA is not really built as a portable option, but even so, it can be thrown in a bag easily enough. The unit measures in at 110 x 110 x 115mm and weighs 979 grams.

Half the USB ports provide the standard 1A, while the other half are enabled for 2A fast charging. The unit also has a funky blue mood light that makes it a little more interesting when sitting on a desk.

It charges from an included PSU, and takes about 12 hours to fill up from empty.

Verdict: Expensive, but the highest capacity power bank available.

Price: $215
From: Thermaltake

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5