Crowdfunding Spotlight: XS Powercard

Crowdfunding Spotlight: XS Powercard

Jun 4, 2014

Mobile batteries for smartphones are an easy target for people looking to gain financial backing via popular crowdfunding sites because they are easy to assemble and there is certainly a market of people who want longer battery life for their smart devices. Generally, I try and steer clear of these projects because I am looking to focus more on innovative and creative endeavors, but every now and again something comes along that surprises me and breathes some new life into a stagnant product field. Most products are simply small batteries that will fit in a pocket or a purse and that is essentially where their functionality ends. With all that said, this week’s Crowdfunding Spotlight shines on XS Powercard solely because it broke out of the doldrums to deliver some new features that we have not seen before in these kinds of batteries.

Firstly, XS Powercard has all of the necessary wires built into its slender body which is obviously very important for ease of use and overall longevity. Secondly, embedded into the device is a tiny USB flash drive that is no bigger than the USB dongle for a wireless mouse. The thinking here is that, in addition to providing power, the XS Powercard can use its micro-USB or Thunderbolt connection to transfer data to a medium that is traditionally unavailable to smartphones. This flash drive will be available in the typical 8, 16, and 32 GB capacities. Finally, the third feature I like about the XS Powercard is that it is slim enough to fit inside of a wallet. This is imperative in a world where the only things that are carried around on a regular basis are keys, phone, and wallet; aka. The Holy Trinity. By combining this product with one of those three the developers are dramatically reducing the burden on the consumer; making it more convenient to carry an additional item with them wherever they go.

Again taking advantage of the USB connectivity, the XS Powercard can act as a straight USB connector to any computer, and when charging it always charges the phone first before charging the 2200 mAh battery. This truly makes the XS Powercard the ultimate smartphone accessory because it means that, not only does it remove the need to carry a USB cable, but now a personal flash drive will always be available whenever it is needed. This project is currently about $20,000 short of its planned funding, and with three full weeks remaining it is fairly safe to say this project will be funded. This means that there are not many more spots to get a discounted set of XS Powercards, with several tiers already sold out. The XS Powercard is a deserving project that really tries hard to stand heads and shoulders above other devices in its market.

DU Battery Saver And Switch Widget Review

DU Battery Saver And Switch Widget Review

Aug 22, 2013

Android devices are getting better when it comes to battery life. The problem is, we are using them for more and more things. So as the battery life gets better, we’ve found something else to suck equal or greater amounts of battery than we are saving. This is where a battery saver app can help.

du-battery-saver-1Some of the cool features are the charging calendar. This give the option to see everyday the phone or tablet was charged so a basic idea can be had about the charging habits or needs for the device. Another cool feature are the widgets. Part of the widget is the optimizer The optimizer, in the simplest explanation, shuts down anything running that’s not needed at that time. It’s a good idea to do this now and again to make sure no battery hogs are waking up and running on their own.

For some devices, having the battery level icon and information in the notification bar is great. I know when I get a new device and this isn’t an option, it’s one of the first apps I download. The icon in the notification bar shows the actual percentage, not just an inaccurate battery icon.

As time goes on, it will be easier to see the benefit of the data DU Battery Saver is. Some apps that run in the background may be apps hardly used. A good example for me is Facebook. I am rarely on it while mobile so I can regain 5% of my battery by deleting the app so it isn’t running in the background.

One of the biggest battery sucks is the screen. When the screen is on, the battery is draining much quicker than almost anything else the device uses. Keep this in mind when looking at the apps and functions listed. For my devices, it is usually 30 to 50 percent of the battery drain under normal usage.

KickStarter Spotlight: juiceBee

KickStarter Spotlight: juiceBee

Aug 1, 2013

One thing I have noticed about the KickStarter world is that it is littered with mobile charging solutions. Now this could be due to the fact that these are devices that could have a lot of facets and variations, but it is more likely centered around their simplicity and necessity. All that aside, however, the whole idea of having a mobile battery is not a bad one. My opinion is that they tend to be either too large or too much work to constantly keep charged. This is why this week I am bringing you a great KickStarter project called juiceBee which acknowledges these shortcomings and addresses them all head on.

So what is juiceBee? Well, obviously, it is a mobile battery that will charge a smartphone on-the-go. But, what is so different about juiceBee is that it is only one I have found that actually integrates the battery into a household charger. This means that it is intended to be that bedside charger at night as well as a companion during the day. The battery simply pops out of the 12V wall outlet and, voila, instant, fully charged mobile power. As with most KickStarter projects this is a stunningly simple solution to a very common problem.

The second issue with most similar products is the size, and coming in at a very svelte 3cm square by 9cm the juiceBee is incredibly portable and comfortably fits into a shirt pocket. Fortunately, its size does not mean a compromise on power. There is enough power inside this little guy to fully charge two iPhones via a typical 5V USB connection.

In conclusion, juiceBee is a very attractive, and convenient way to make sure that $600 phone is available even at the ends of long days. The sleek figure and innovative charging technique help set this project apart from the norm. With just more than a month to go this project is already nearly halfway funded which means that limited edition and discounted items are becoming scarce. This is a great product and I would wholeheartedly recommend jumping on it as soon as possible.

KickStarter Spotlight: Jackery Air

KickStarter Spotlight: Jackery Air

Jun 12, 2013

With the freedom of portability comes the inherent restriction of batteries. The high-performance battery may be the single most important invention in the past decade or so, but with ever increasing demand they still only last around 8-10 hours for the average user. Some days that time gets cut dramatically due to maybe some turn-by-turn help to a restaurant or a video and photo session with some friends. Whatever the reason, battery life is fleeting and only gets worse with age and use.

Coming to our rescue is San Fransisco based development team Jackery; which has created a mobile batter that is equal parts small, powerful, and, dare I say, sexy. Maybe it is the molded aluminum casing or the super thin profile, but the Jackery Air, as it is called, is definitely not an eyesore. It basically looks like an orange, all-aluminum iPhone 5 with a convenient indicator light in the bottom corner.

The mobile battery scene has exploded in recent years, and with good reason. Our increasing dependence on mobile technology and refusal to accept compromised battery performance has led to a demand for these portable power stations. I completely understand this sentiment, the Jackery Air is perfect for those busy days where I know that I will be going out later, and already have used my phone a lot during the day. Just throw the tiny battery into a briefcase or book bag and enjoy the peace of mind.

There are two tiers of battery available: a 2800mAh version can can fully charge an iPhone twice, and a 5000mAh upgrade that will perform the same job thrice. The first model is available for a $49 donation which, personally, is a steal. Even at full price, $69, the Jackery Air is a quality product that is also a great value. The 5000mAh version will retail for just $20 more at $89, and both models are available with a dual-USB 2.0 car charger for just $10 more. So, for those who find this project interesting, give it a look and consider helping out these deserving developers.

KickStarter Spotlight: EverPurse

KickStarter Spotlight: EverPurse

Oct 10, 2012

It is very rare on Android Rundown that we give a shout out to the ladies. Tech blogs tend to be a very male-centric medium and in that nature there is not a lot of attention cast in the direction of some more feminine products. So with that in mind I present EverPurse, which really is exactly what it sounds like, a purse with that charges a smartphone. But what makes EverPurse so great is that it really rises beyond that and becomes something that is so much greater than just a purse with a battery.

The first aspect is that the phone slides gently into a slot or pocket on one side in the purse. This pocket has guides at the bottom that easily brings the phone onto the charger so there are no messy cords to deal with. Simply side the phone in and it is charging instantly; could not be simpler.

Secondly, the way the internal battery charges is ingenious. Using inductive charging, or more simply, wireless charging, the EverPurse is able to be placed onto a charging mat and it is automatically charging right away. There is no need to grab a cord and plug something in, and it can be charging for an entire night or just on a quick trip upstairs. Just like before, this really could not be simpler.

Another reason that I am excited about this project, even though I do not regularly carry a purse on me is that I appeals to the shift in the way that electronics are used now. There has been this shift and people need their phones to work all day and maybe they will not be at their house for a few hours during the middle of the day to charge their phone. By being able to quickly charge while on the train or walking to class is such a big advantage, and being able to do so discretely and stylishly in a major plus.

Theme Thursday: C.Black

Theme Thursday: C.Black

Apr 19, 2012

There isn’t anyone out there who would claim that Android phones have exceptional battery life. This leads most users to look for little ways here and there to conserve small bits of power. A classic method of doing this is using a dark wallpaper because it takes more power for that giant 4.5″ screen to display a bright, white background then a simple black one. This is possible why Google gave Ice Cream Sandwich a simpler dark coat of paint. It is easy to see this trend on the Google Play Store as the number of themes that have dark wallpapers easily outnumbers their brighter counterparts. This Thursday we are going to look at a GO Launcher theme that minces no words when it comes to its purpose.

Our theme is named C.Black and fortunately it brings some subtle styling to go along with its utilitarian purpose. Harkening back to past days before color computer monitors, C.Black sticks with a classic green on black color scheme that adds a touch of hacker to any phone. Unfortunately, there just aren’t enough custom application icons included to fully deliver on its promise. While the each app does get its own nifty green halo it might simply not be enough for most users. Other themes offer the option to make every app icon grayscale and it seems like a waste that there is no option in C.Black to convert all those unsupported icons into shades of green.

In terms of conserving battery life, C.Black will definitely do as advertised just do not expect something miraculous; converting to a darker background will only add, at most, an hour of battery life depending on how much the home screen is displayed. Even with its imperfections, those looking to give their phone a nice retro feel as well as a small bump in battery life should give C.Black a look.

Juice Defender App Review

Juice Defender App Review

Mar 1, 2012

Juice Defender Ultimate is one of the more popular batter life saving apps on the Market today. My biggest problem with apps like these is that often times the statements are mere posturing when just a few simple preventive steps by the user would do the same job. Don’t get me wrong, Juice Defender Ultimate is an incredibly intelligent app that allows for an insane amount of customization over the smallest aspects of the phone. I just feel the largest ways Juice Defender saves battery life are just as simple as turning off the wireless functions when not in use. There really is no hidden secret here, only have the GPS active when it is needed, don’t enable WiFi when the phone is in a back pocket between classes, and keep the screen brightness at a reasonable level. This can all be done with a simple widget or notification widget like Widgetsoid 2.x, which allows for quick and easy toggling of various phone functions.

I am not usually craving phone battery, and my EVO 4G seems to do alright through the day, assuming I don’t spend my hour between classes looking at cat videos on YouTube over Ohio State’s WiFi. So the supposed 1.38x battery life bump I received was not as noticeable as the 4x claims made on Juice Defender Ultimate’s Market page. I can see where this is coming from, however, users who do not know to disable specific wireless connections are sure to see a massive bump in battery life when their GPS isn’t constantly activated. Juice Defender is nice for when these functions have been accidentally left on, and a good option is to automatically disable all wireless data connections when the screen is off. This does conserve some battery, but a problem occurs upon unlocking and immediately utilizing an app that requires an internet connection because there is about a 15 second delay as the phone connects to a data network. The same applies for the option to keep data off unless specific apps are opened. It is a great theory, but in practice, there, again, is a long delay between when the app is opened and when the data connection is finally established.

One final problem I had with Juice Defender is that a few days after installing it my home screen really started to bog down and become sluggish. Individual apps did not seem to be affected other then in the initial launch. I do not have any hard evidence that Juice Defender is the red-handed culprit but I do know that as soon as I disabled it everything resumed normal function and I didn’t experience any more problems.

Overall, Juice Defender Ultimate is best for those who have trouble regulating their connections by themselves or for those with older batteries and need every last percent. For most everyone else, however, Juice Defender Ultimate may just become a superfluous app that will benefit marginally with the chance of compromised performance.

Power Manager Full

Power Manager Full

Sep 20, 2010

Battery life. We all want it, yet we don’t want to sacrifice our thin, light, and always connected phones for it. So what’s the answer? Well you can slap on a big fat extended battery. But why go through all that trouble when you can just install an app for $0.99 and be done with it? Well that’s what Power Manager Full might lead you to believe. However, what looks too good to be true usually is.

Power Manager Full is a profile manager that lets you toggle different options for different circumstances. For example you can set your screen brightness and screen time out to different levels for when your phone is plugged in or at different battery levels. You can also turn on or off wifi, bluetooth, or gps. The app also claims to add a “new setting,” allowing you to set a screen time-out when you are on a call.

The real question here is: does this actually translate into increased battery life? Well, it depends. Yes, setting your screen at a lower brightness will prolong battery life. Also, turning off bluetooth and wifi will also increase battery life. But you might be asking: I keep my brightness on auto and my bluetooth and wifi off anyway, will this app help me? Probably not. Also, claiming that a in-call time-out is a new setting is a bit of a stretch. There is a proximity sensor for that very reason.

I also found that the default settings on this app were too aggressive. My screen kept dimming when I was reading in my RSS reader. Not only that, but editing the profiles is a bit confusing. When you tap on a profile there is a pop-up that says what profile you just tapped on – but nothing actually happens. You have to long press the profile to edit it.

Power Manager full does give you some added automation if you want different things to happen when you plug your phone in. However, there are apps that use your location as a trigger that I find much more useful. For example: turning your wifi on while at home. As far as battery savings, this app will do nothing for you if already do the most prudent things such as keeping your screen brightness down and you wifi and bluetooth off.

I’ve got an idea. Instead of paying $0.99 for an app like this we can put that money towards funding scientific research for new battery tech. Because it seems like this problem just isn’t going away on its own. And while I applaud developers attempting to assuage the problem, I think more honestly marketing ones product is a better approach.