Nova Blox External Battery Hardware Review

Nova Blox External Battery Hardware Review

Mar 31, 2015

The Juno Power Nova Blox External Battery is a mobile option that looks to give extended life to our mobile devices.

It’s a relatively small piece, mostly silver with deliberate black accents. It has a button on the side, with a micro-USB charging port and what looks to be a prominent LED light on one end, and on the opposite end, there is a USB outlet port. Officially, it comes in at 2.87 x 2.01 x 0.83 inches, and weighs 4.65 ounces. Overall, it is barely bigger than a box of tic tacs, which makes it quite portable and even fairly pocketable. The retail package also provides a micro-USB cable (which can be used to charge the unit and also as an output cable) as well as documentation. We got the silver, and there are other trim options.

Using the unit is intuitive; it came with a good charge (as signified by the hitherto hidden row of charge indicators that line one side), so it was able to be used immediately. Charging pace is good, though, unscientifically, it does feel a tad slower than “regular” AC charging. It’s rated at 4000 mAh capacity (and 5 Volt -2.1A output), so it packs quite a punch.


The power button toggles charging duties, but also has a secondary function: pressing and holding it causes that previously described prominent LED light to show its true purpose as a flashlight. It won’t cut through the darkness Vin Diesel encountered in Pitch Black, in a pinch it isn’t a bad tool to have, especially since a portable charger is key in a power outage situation.

The hold time, raw power output and portability are great features, but almost just as attractive is the pricing. $24.99 on Amazon is competitive. It works with a multitude of devices across platforms… just about most devices that require USB charging functionality.

All in all, as a portable option from a well known entity in the business, it resonates as a great option.

Antec LifeBar 10 Portable Charger Hardware Review

Antec LifeBar 10 Portable Charger Hardware Review

Oct 16, 2014

Yes, batteries in mobile devices have gotten better, but in the spirit of being prepared, it just makes sense to have a backup plan. Way back when, getting a couple extra OEM batteries was sufficient. Now, sealed batteries are more commonplace, and having multiple devices at any given time is not unheard of; in any case, all those extra batteries start to add up.

Nah, it makes sense to have a portable battery, and when it comes to mobile power solutions, few are as capable of Antec; hence, checking out the new LifeBar 10 Portable Charger is far from a chore.

It’s a slick-looking unit, with subtly angled corners gently pulling out octagon-ish shapings from “regular” cuboid. At one end, there is a 5V DC micro-USB port that is itself bordered by two USB output ports.There are LED lights and a reset button. The polished exterior is nice to hold, and size-wise, it is quite pocketable at 5.39 x 2.81 x 0.51 inches and 9 ounces. Visually, it feels like it manages to be be stoic and relaxed at the same time.lb2 The review package (retail) also contained a white USB cable and documentation.

It’s advertised as a 10,000 mAh charger, so expectations are high. The LifeBar 10 came with half a charge, so I was able to get it going immediately. I tried it with several devices: S5, M8 and several devices. The charging rate is equitable, even when used to charge other charging units. With two devices being charged simultaneously, I wasn’t able to discern any loss of rate. Little things like the LED flashlight also make it a bit more useful in a crunch.

Also, the standby time is fairly remarkable; It held charge over several days.

Antec, with this piece, shows it is possible to have a decent product that, well, isn’t ashamed of looking good. It is fine accessory, and if we should be so lucky, its manufacturer won’t tire of bringing similar style to the marketplace.

enCharge Power Jacket Case Hardware Review

enCharge Power Jacket Case Hardware Review

Sep 26, 2014

You’re device battery is probably not bad. Wait… hold the rocks for a hot second.

I understand that y’all smart-device newbies think it’s bad, but trust me: power management has come a long way. There is still so much more that can be done, yes, but if the amount of OEM batteries I have carried over time is an indication of the progress we have made (three down to zero), I think we can gently tap ourselves on the back. It wasn’t too long ago that I foreswore devices with non-user serviceable batteries; my last two devices actually had/have sealed batteries. Go figure… having a device that lasts 24 hours on one charge might not be that futuristic after all.

Still, being prepared is the name of today’s mobile game, and this is why external batteries seem to be the most talked about mobile accessories. Finding device-specific cases that double as external power sources is also an option, and the enCharge Power Jacket Case looks like the tool many a user could get used to… as a semi-permanent tool or ad-hoc solution.


The review unit that Mobile Fun sent us was the black model (there is also a white version); the unit shows the deliberate crafting to make it fit the M8. The “main” back of the piece is molded in hard plastic, with a micro-USB piece at the bottom off-center, made to fit the corresponding micro-USB piece port on the M8. Beside that there is a cutout for audio cable, and on the back, there are holes for camera and flash. Towards the top, one finds and extensible portion that can be pulled to facilitate quick insertion and removal of the device. On the bottom, front, towards the right, there is an on/switch that toggles juice from the unit when needed; on the back one finds a kickstand.


I have seen and used several battery cases, but hadn’t seen one with a front cover. I liked that this one did, as it is a nice touch, with cutouts for speaker grills. When the device is in use, the front flap can be folded out of the way.

Insertion was relatively easy; with the way I like to use battery cases (as a temporary solution in a pinch), putting one one and removing can be points of contention. Not for this, as putting it on and taking it off was painless. The unit came with a charge, so I was able to check out the real world usage immediately. Pressing the on button gives an immediate measure of power left via four (4) blue LED lights, and it charges thus.

I like the protection afforded, and the size of the battery (4500 mAh), and adore the fact the device can be charged while in use. On the flip side, it does add some bulk to the device (which is almost an expected hazard), and the flap can be stubborn with regards to completely covering the front.


At $47.99 (via the Mobile Fun website), it feels like a decent value when protection and utility are considered, and the ease of use is a cherry on top.

TYLT Energi Battery Series Hardware Review

TYLT Energi Battery Series Hardware Review

Aug 12, 2014

TYLT is synonymous with accessorized style. From chargers to cases to cables and beyond, one can be assured that products from TYLT will be atypically attractive without sacrificing functionality. The Kickstarter-funding of some of its products adds to its allure.

We had an opportunity to look at it’s wireless charger a while back, and were mostly impressed with the design aesthetic and overall usability. We recently received an opportunity to look at its entire Energi External Battery Pack Series, and jumped in head first. With the increasing trend of sealed batteries in phones with brighter screens PLUS folks carrying several devices, the need for reliable third party battery packs is becoming more of a need than a want.

The review pieces all came individually cased in retail packaging; we got to check out the 2K, 3K, 5K and the momma of them all, the 10K. Each of the numerical designations correspond to the capacity of that unit.


Of course, we couldn’t resist the urge to put the 10K through the paces. The 10K is pretty solid in hand, fairy thick but not too long at 4.7 x 3.1 x 0.9 inches, and weighing in at 11 ounces. This unit comes with a single microUSB cable that can be used to charge the unit, and also to transfer power to a device. The unit itself is mostly black with a subtle, grey logo band that runs round the middle of the unit. The bottom of the unit has four ports, each clearly labeled, with three being for charging (1A, 1A and a tablet-specific 2.1A) and the input port. On the lower end of the left side, there is an on/off button, and a series of LEDs that indicate the amount of charge available with green lights. The unit promises to charge a few devices simultaneously, or a regular device up to four times.


The unit arrived with a partial charge. It is fairly intuitive to set up and even with a single light showing, it started juicing up the M8. I did expect reasonable charging rate, but it is surprisingly fast, getting the M8 from 40% to full in less than a half hour (using the 2.1A port).

Next, I filled it up and tried it with three devices (an LG G3, a Nook HD+ and the aforementioned M8). The Energi 10K handled itself admirably, getting them all up to par from half way down with charge left. It also has excellent standby functionality, allowing one to keep it unused with the charge retained over time.


What really makes the Energi series compelling is the range; I do wish the 10K had embedded cable like some of its siblings, but the raw power is comforting. In related testing, the other units are just as effective within their advertised parameters.

The 10K isn’t exactly cheap, at about $99.99 (per Amazon), and it is a bit hefty, but there are different pieces that can suit different needs and price points.

PowerSkin Review

PowerSkin Review

Jul 26, 2011

These days, I’m getting more usage out of my Droid X than ever before, and it’s all thanks to a gadget called PowerSkin — a rugged, soft-silicone casing with a built-in battery pack that keeps your phone charged while keeping it safe from abrasions and sudden impacts.

Prior to using the PowerSkin, I was getting about 10 – 12 hours of battery life before needing to scramble for a power-outlet. Depending on usage, some days I’d get much less than that. In the best usage case scenario, I was on vacation a few weeks ago, shooting pictures, texting, tweeting, making a few short phone calls, using the GPS and looking up information online. Even while using maximum power saver mode, the battery only lasted about 8 hours. That’s pretty good for how heavily I was using it, but it was still stone cold dead long before we were done having fun. With the PowerSkin, I’m certain it would have lasted much longer.

Despite its awesome power, one downside to the PowerSkin is that it’s very bulky, almost doubling the thickness of the phone while adding a little more weight. The overall width is also increased. In a way, this is a good thing, because it means the case will absorb plenty of shock energy during an impact. However, this is also an annoyance; I had a tough enough time slipping the phone in and out of my jeans’ pocket before PowerSkin; with PowerSkin, forget it. My other concern is that the lip at the top of the case doesn’t extend over the front of the phone enough to hold it in place during an impact. This is the one area where the case seems to have the least amount of grip on the phone, and while I don’t think it’ll pop out, it bothers me that it could.

Finally, it’s great that you don’t have to remove the phone to charge the PowerSkin, but I’ve discovered an odd behavior. While charging the PowerSkin with the phone inside, if the phone’s battery is low enough to draw external power, it constantly behaves as though you are inserting and removing the power cable every second. I don’t like this, at all. It seems to take much longer to charge both devices and I’m concerned that it might damage something to continually go through that cycle. As such, I’ve gotten into the habit of charging the devices separately if they are each significantly drained. Otherwise, I charge the PowerSkin with the phone inside without any problems.

Regardless of these minor issues, I find that I’m very pleased with the performance of the PowerSkin. Compared to other external power devices I’ve purchased, the PowerSkin outperforms them all. I get the security of a rugged, good looking case without the need to carry any additional peripherals. Because of that, I highly recommend the PowerSkin to anyone looking to get more use out of their phone.

For more information on the PowerSkin, and to see if one is available for your phone, simply visit