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I don’t make any secret of my love of multi-purpose travel gadgets.
Combining a bunch of functions into one device makes a lot of sense when you need to keep weight and size down (although of course, losing or breaking them creates an even bigger problem than usual).
To that end, when Mobile Fun offered to send out its Encharge portable battery, flashlight and card reader for review, I was happy to take a look.
Specifications and Design
The Olixar Encharge is a solid little black rectangle, with an array of slots and LEDs. The front sports a pair of USB sockets (a 1amp port for smartphones and a 2.1amp port for tablets), an SD slot for memory cards, a pair of white LED lamps for the flashlight function and a micro-USB port for charging the battery itself. On top sits the power button and a charge indicator.
The package also included a micro-USB cable for charging, as well as proprietary cable with six different tips (Nokia, Apple Lightning and 30 pin, micro and mini USB and round DC) to fit most battery-powered devices.
That’s a really nice touch — almost every other portable battery I’ve seen assumes you’ll use your existing charging cable, but having a spare like this is far more convenient. It’s just a shame there isn’t a small bag or similar to keep everything together, as the tips seem like the kind of thing that will get lost very quickly.
The battery is rated at 10,000mAh, which lets you fully charge an iPad or other tablet once, and a smartphone three or four times. The unit weighs 250g (8.8oz) — not super-light, but not heavy enough to be a major problem.
It’s a little shorter and taller than most similar devices, which makes it a bit bulky to carry in a jeans pocket. Throw it in a jacket pocket or bag, however, and there’s no problem.
Real World Testing
The battery arrived half-charged, so the first thing I did was top it up. It’s possible to charge from a computer, but I opted to use a spare USB wall adapter I had lying around instead.
Given how long it took (several hours), this would always be my preferred method. The charging indictor has four positions — 25, 50, 75 and 100% — for a rough idea of how much power you’ve got left.
Once full, I used the battery to charge several different gadgets. Charging speed was no different to normal when using the 1amp port for an iPhone or Nexus 5, or the 2.1amp port for a Nexus 7.
I was able to completely charge both smartphones from empty simultaneously, plus top up the tablet from half to full, and still have a little juice remaining in the Encharge. The charging indicator wasn’t particularly accurate, though — it dropped to 25% relatively quickly, then stayed there for a long time.
Using the included charging tips (micro-USB and Lightning) didn’t cause a problem, although the Lightning tip fitted more tightly than the standard Apple cable. I was somewhat surprised that it worked at all, given how picky Apple products can be about unofficial cables, but there were no complaints from an iPhone 5 with the latest iOS version.
Pressing the power button once started the charging process and displayed remaining capacity, while holding it down turned on the two LED lamps. They’re not especially bright, but more than enough to find a keyhole or hunt under the bed for that missing wallet.
The SD slot worked fine, as far as it went. There’s no support for USB OTG (on-the-go), which means transferring files to/from phones and tablets isn’t an option.
That’s a bit of a disappointment, as it would make the Encharge a more versatile and useful device for those travelling without a laptop. When connected to a laptop, however, copying and deleting files was reliable and reasonably fast.
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The Olixar Encharge is a handy gadget for travelers, with several useful features — but it’s not flawless. The charging cable with multiple tips is a definite bonus, as is not needing to carry a card reader or flashlight.
On the other hand it’s a little bulky, and a couple of minor additions (a carry case and adding OTG support) would make it better for travel. Still, for £25 ($31.50 in the US store), these are relatively small complaints.
If you don’t need the SD card support, there are other portable batteries out there that weigh and cost a bit less — but if you’re in the market for a card reader anyway, this device is where it’s at.