January 22, 2009 We live in an era where pocket-sized mobile devices can keep us in touch with almost every corner of the globe, but this golden age of communication can quickly turn sour when your battery dies, and it usually happens when you most need it. To combat this issue there are a smorgasbord of mobile recharging devices now on the market, with our favorites being those that use alternative energy to get the job done like the Solio or HYmini solar/wind charger. Now there's a new kid on the block in the form of Powcell, a charging sleeve for iPhone, iPod Touch and Blackberry Curve that draws on almost any light source to provide a power top-up on the go and reduce your dependence on wall sockets.
The Powcell slots onto the mobile device like a protective rear cover and has its own internal battery which provides around two hours of talk time when it's fully charged. It takes approximately four hours to charge the sleeve using the solar/ambient light panel (depending of course on the strength of the light source) and it can also be charged via a USB connection in around one hour. To transfer this charge to your phone it takes up to 20 minutes.
The makers say that the "gentle" charging will help extend the phone's internal battery life and also that the sleeve also provides the added benefit of impact protection - though given that you need to place your phone face down to make use of the solar panel, you'll need some screen protection or a soft resting place to avoid scratching.
It stands to reason that sunlight will be the most effective power source, but when we chatted to Powcell at CES 2009 where the product was on show, they noted that it's not recommended that you leave your device in direct sunlight because, solar panel or not, leaving your precious smartphone on a windowsill or car dash will inevitably fry it... which is why the specified operating temperature is 0-35 degrees Celsius.
Powcell is currently available for pre-order for Apple iPhone (3G and original), iPod touch and Blackberry Curve and is expected to ship at the end of February at a cost of around £60/USD$89. A version for Blackberry Storm is coming soon and the company plans to have "many more models available very shortly".
Powcell key specs:
- Dimensions (W x H x D) / weight : 65 x 110 x 20 mm / 69g (iPhone), 64 x 100 x 20 mm / 63g (Blackberry Curve)
- Color: Black and White (iPhone), Grey and Silver (Blackberry Curve)
- Internal battery: Lithium Polymer, 450 mA per hour, Maximum Charged Voltage: 4.2V, Minimum Discharged Voltage: 3.0V
- Ambient Light / Solar Panel: Maximum Output Voltage: 6.0V, Maximum Output Current: 90mA
- Input Connectivity: Mini-USB Connector, Maximum Input Current: 500mA (ONLY for connection to USB port on PC).
- Charging time: Via solar/ambient light panel: 4 hrs approx, Via USB (at 450mA): 1 hr approx
- Phone/Device Charging Time: Battery Level Starting at 4.2V 15-20 Mins Approx, Battery Level Starting at 3.8V 7-10 Mins Approx
- Operating Temperature: 0°C - 35°C
- Storage Temperature: 0°C - 40°C