Category Archives: battery

X2 Underwater Jetpack by Supermarinovation at Gadget Show Live



SupermarinovationEasily the best thing at Gadget Show Live, the Supermarinovation x2 is a “wearable personal underwater propulsion device” but it’s much more fun thinking of the x2 as an underwater jetpack. With only three main components – two arm-mounted thruster units and a battery backpack – the x2 brings Superman-like flight to swimmers and free divers. Shown as part of the British Inventors’ Project, Chris tells me about the x2 and its development from idea to product.

x2 Sport Underwater Jet Pack

Aimed at swimmers and snorkellers, the idea is to get down to the interesting bits of the ocean as quickly as possible to get as much bottom time before having to pop back up for air. With the two power units at full pelt, the x2 propels a swimmer at around 7 mph, which is fast for a person underwater. Playtime is about an hour, though this is more reflective of the swimmer’s capabilities rather than the x2 going flat out, and it’ll be depth rated down to 10m (33 feet). Most reefs are well within this depth.

The outer shells are all 3D printed and a small number of advanced prototypes have been sold with a full launch of the x2 anticipated later in the year. Prices are expected to be around GB£4,000 for the x2 Sport and £8,000 for the Pro version. I’ll take two for my superyacht.

Since Gadget Show Live, a new x2 has been announced, the x2 Compact, which attaches the propulsion units directly to the back battery pack. A fourth product called the Hammerhead is in the works too, which is held in front with both hands and then pulls the swimmer along. Check out the renders in the Facebook links above.


SoftBattery From Enfucell Powers Medical Applications at WTS



Enfucell All of us are familiar with batteries, from the normal cylindrical cells for toys and remote controls, to the cuboid batteries often seen in digital and video comeras. Whatever the shape, batteries tend to be hard, inflexible and relatively heavy. This can make them awkward to use, especially if there’s a need to attach the battery to a person as it will need to be clipped on or placed in clothing. To address this problem, Finish firm Enfucell have developed a soft and flexible battery for use in medical applications. Andrew hears more from Anja, Enfucell’s Sales Director.

Unlike a normal alkaline battery, the thin and flexible SoftBattery is manufactured by screen printing and lamination, though in other respects it is similar using the reaction between zinc and manganese(IV) oxide (Zn/MnO2) to provide energy. Coming in both 1.5 V and 3 V versions, the SoftBattery is ideal for medical applications as the battery can be incorporated into a skin patch to measure ECG, respiration and activity while still being powerful enough to drive Bluetooth LE. As the battery is only used with one patient before disposal or recycling, there’s no risk of infection between patients.

The SoftBattery technology has been incorporated successfully into several products.

Enfucell SoftBattery


ChargeHub at 2016 CES



chargehub-round-red-1Scott Ertz interviews Rock Smeja, vice president of operations for ChargeHub. They discuss the ChargeHub, which is a round 7 port USB charging hub. You can charge up to 7 USB devices simultaneously while being connected to one power source, either AC house current or and included automotive 12-volt adapter.

The ChargeHub is priced at $59.99 and is available at many different retailers such as Best Buy, Staples, Amazon, etc. The ChargeHub value pack, which includes USB cables and the 12-volt car adapter is priced at $89.99.

The ChargeHub is designed to communicate with many different types of devices and has high enough wattage that it can adapt to charging as fast as any particular device can accept a charge.

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LifeProof at CES 2016



LifeProofDaniele Mendez interviews Gordon Vater, senior public relations specialist with LifeProof. They discuss the new LifeProof water proof battery cases for the iPhone 6s and 6s+. The battery case can double the phone’s battery life. When the phone’s built-in battery starts to get low, simply hold down the button on the back of the case to start the charging process. The waterproof battery case for the iPhone 6s sells for $116.99. The price for the iPhone 6s+ waterproof battery case is $149.99.

They also discuss the LifeProof LIFEACTIV quick mount accessories. A puck is attached to the back of any phone, which enables it to quickly and securely be attached to different mounting devices for cars, belt clips, armbands and also bikes. The belt clip version sells for $26.99. The suction mount automotive version sells for $35.99.

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JAQ Fuel Cell Battery from MyFC



JAQ fuel cellIt wouldn’t be CES without a fuel cell-based smartphone charger making an appearance, and as expected Swedish company myFC turns up with the JAQ, the world´s smallest pocket-sized fuel cell charger. CEO Bjorn Westerholm shows Daniel and Todd the colourful charger.

The winner of a 2016 German Design Award, the charger consists of two parts; an inner replaceable PowerCard (orange) and the outer JAQ fuel cell (blue). The PowerCard is made from water and salt and when mixed, hydrogen is produced which is then combined in the fuel cell with oxygen from the atmosphere to generate electricity along with waste water. The card is thrown away once discharged.

A single PowerCard provides 1800 mAh though with additional PowerCards, more power is available. The best use case for the JAQ and the PowerCards is when the owner is far away from an electrical power source, say, camping.

The PowerCards are expected to retail for under US$2 and the fuel cell itself will be rented for around $5 per month as part of a phone contract. JAQ is expected to be available soon.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com.
Daniel J. Lewis is the host of the award-winning podcast about podcasting, The Audacity to Podcast. Daniel helps others launch and improve their own podcasts for sharing their passions and finding success.

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On3 PowerCliq Smart Battery Case



PowerCliq LogoCombo battery cases for the Apple iPhone are commonplace from no-name clones to well-known manufacturers whose brand is almost synonymous with the product. On the other hand, combined case, battery and Bluetooth headset packs with smart battery management are really quite rare. In fact, On3‘s PowerCliq is the only one I know of, so watch Don get a hands-on demo from Brad Yasar of On3.

The PowerCliq is a 2700 mAh battery case for the iPhone which has two additional features. The first is a Bluetooth 4.0 headset that slides into the back of the case for both storage and charging. The second is that the charging features of the external battery can be controlled by app on the iPhone. When plugged in, most battery packs simply charge until the smartphone is fully charged and then keep it topped up; there are some schools of thought that suggest this can be detrimental to the long-term performance of the battery.

On the PowerCliq, the app can be used to set a minimum battery level such that the recharging doesn’t kick in until the iPhone’s battery falls to that level and once fully charged, turns off. This larger discharge / charge cycle is supposed to improve the life of the battery.

The PowerCliq is fundraising on Kickstarter with early birds getting in at $88.  Update: since CES, the Kickstarter campaign has been cancelled. There’s a note on Instagram saying that this is to allow for new developments and the campaign will restart soon.

Interview by Don Baine, the Gadget Professor for the TechPodcast Network.

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Ventev Battery Packs and Accessories at CES



Ventev LogoAlthough there have been great improvements in battery technology, the bigger screens, thinner devices and faster processors mean that I still have to watch my smartphone’s battery level. USB power packs go someway in alleviating battery anxiety and Marlo chats to Scott Franklin of Ventev to see what they can offer the charge concerned.

Ventev offer a selection of mobile accessories including battery packs and cables with some specifically aimed at Apple owners with Lightning connector. On show in the video are battery packs with combinations of built-in wall chargers, capacity and intergrated cables. With prices from $39.99 up to $99.99, there’s a pack for every situation and price.

Interview by Marlo Anderson of The Tech Ranch. Note that the early part of the interview is missing.

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TP-Link 3G Mobile WiFi and Power Bank Review



TP-LInk LogoThe TP-Link 3G Mobile WiFi and 5200 mAh Power Bank (M5360) combines two of the handiest portable accessories – a 3G wireless hotspot and a USB battery pack – into a single unit. Sounds good on paper, but convergence doesn’t always work out. Let’s take a look.

3G Wireless and Power Bank

The M5360 comes neatly packaged in a slide-out box. Included with the 3G Mobile WiFi are instructions, a charger, USB-to-microUSB cable and some SIM adaptors which hold the smaller SIM sizes. The 3G Mobile WiFi itself is larger than the average mobile hotspot but this hardly unexpected given that there’s an additional 5200 mAh battery stashed in there. Overall, it’s 44 x 29 x 100 mm and while the weight isn’t officially given, my kitchen scales say 150g.

TP-Link 3G Mobile WiFi

As you’ll see, the 3G Mobile WiFi is white with a clear plastic cover over the OLED screen. Moving round the unit, at the top there is a microUSB socket to charge up the Power Bank. On the right side, a power button turns the unit on, off and toggles between charging only and simultaneous 3G sharing and charging. There’s a reset button (that I never had to use) and covered slots for the SIM and micro SD cards. Finally on the bottom is USB socket that can be used for charging other devices. It’s only rated at 1A, so it’s more suited to charging smartphones and media players than 10″ tablets.

Getting going is simple – slip a SIM in and power the 3G Mobile WiFi up. As the unit is not network-locked you can use whatever SIM you choose, and helpfully on the rear of the device is all the information necessary for connecting to the WiFi network, including SSID and password. The 3G Mobile WiFi generally self-configures, but if you need to change anything, you can log on to the unit via a web browser and make changes.

Profile Management

With a 3 SIM everything went smoothly but I also tried the unit with a SIM from MVNO Giffgaff, which actually uses the O2 network. In this instance, I had to log on to the 3G Mobile WiFi and make some changes to the profile. To be perfectly clear, this reconfiguration is needed because of the MVNO nature of Giffgaff and illustrates the flexibility of the 3G Power Bank.

The small screen gives the usual information about the 3G Mobile WiFi side of things, including signal strength, connectivity, client number, battery and SMS messages. The download rate, upload rate and data volume are shown too. The unit supports the usual GSM protocols up to HSPA+ so in theory the max download rate is 21.6 Mb/s with 5.76 Mb/s upload, but local conditions are likely to significantly reduce this. With respect to WiFi, it’s 11b/g/n and up to 10 clients can connect at once.

TP-Link 3G Mobile WiFi Screen

Now for the best bit….using the internal battery, the M5360 will run for over two (working days) without recharging. TP-Link quote 16-17 hours under heavy use by a single person and up to 26 hours will lighter use. I’m inclined to agree with TP-Link as I was able to use the 3G Power Bank for two and a half working days of relatively light use before recharging. Sweet.

In addition to powering the 3G Mobile WiFi, the battery can be used to charge another device as well. There are two options, wireless sharing and charging, and charging only; a quick double press of the power button toggles between the two modes. The 5200 mAh battery is roughly double the size of a smartphone battery, so expect to fully recharge your phone twice from the Power Bank.

Any problems? No, not really. My only feedback is the the positioning of the charging USB port on the top seems a bit odd as it simply looks funny when the 3G Power Bank is standing on its end. I would have preferred the socket on the side towards the bottom, or even on the bottom with an optional charging dock. Minor points, I know.

Overall, the TP-Link 3G Mobile WiFi and 5200 mAh Power Bank is a useful combination of the two. The ability to run the hotspot for a full working day (and then some) with several connected clients is attractive. The only downside is that the M5360 is heavier than a normal WiFi hotspot but that’s the price you pay for a bigger battery, but if it’s sitting on a desk, there’s no issue anyway.

Speaking of price, expect to pay somewhere around GB£70 for the M5360.

Thanks to TP-Link for supplying the review unit.


Ventev Battery Packs and Chargers



Ventev LogoVentev offers innovative combined battery packs and chargers for smartphones and tablets. Scott Franklin, Director, chats with Todd and Don about Ventev’s latest mobile accessories at CES.

External battery backs for smart phones and tablet are very common these days, but the benefit of Ventev’s unit is that the charger is integrated into the pack itself; there’s no need for additional external charger. Scott shows off three different packs in the interview;

  1. the powercell 6000+, a 6000 mAh unit ($74.99) that plugs directly into the mains electricity socket. Two USB ports, rated at 1 A and 2.1 A.
  2. the powerdash r900, a cylindrical 900 mAh unit ($39.99) which charges from a car cigarette lighter. One USB port rated at 2.1 A when plugged in and 1 A when running from the battery.
  3. the utilitycharger 2100, a charger only ($39.99) but powers from both from the mains and from a car lighter. Two USB ports rated at 1 A each.

For more information on availability, visit Ventev’s website at www.ventev.com.

Interview by Don Baine, the Gadget Professor and Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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Mugenizer N11 Qi Charger with Battery Review



Mugen Power Batteries LogoHere on GNC I’ve reviewed a succession of USB rechargeable battery packs and I’ve tested a couple of Qi chargers for my Nexus 4. Now for the first time I can review both at the same time with the Mugenizer N11 Wireless Charger Power Bank. Fundamentally, it’s Qi charger with a built-in rechargeable 4800 mAh battery. Genius!

Mugen kindly sent me an N11 as soon as it was released and I’ve been using it for about a week or so. First impressions were good as it came in an attractive card box which smoothly slid open.

N11 Box

The box holds the N11, a USB-to-microUSB cable and a power supply, all in matching white.

N11 in Box

The N11 is made from a hard shiny plastic with a rubber ring in the centre to help hold the charging smartphone over the Qi charging spot. There’s a row of charge lights on the top surface and one end has the on/off switch, charging USB port and recharging microUSB port.

N11 End View

If you are wondering how big the N11 is, it’s almost exactly the same size as a Nexus 4. Here’s mine but note the Nexus is sitting back on the charger a little bit.

N11 and Nexus 4

Enough of how it all looked, how well did the N11 work? Frankly, it worked great. Unlike some of the other Qi chargers I’ve tested, it’s easy to spot where the Qi charging coil is. This makes aligning the phone with charger really straightforward and there’s a beep from the N11 to let you know everything is lined up. Here’s a screen shot from Battery+ showing the excellent charging rate.

N11 Charging

The N11 worked equally well with devices that needed a USB cable to charge. The battery is 4800 mAh which means you could recharge most modern smartphones twice from flat. Generally I was able to recharge my Nexus 4 three times from around 20%. The N11 supports charging from the USB port and the Qi charger at the same time, which can be handy. The port is rated at 1 A.

My only criticism of the product is that it was sometimes difficult to pick out the exact charge level on the blue LEDs as the light bled from one to the next. Is it fully charged or 90%? As the power level fell, it was easier to make the level out.

Charging lights aside, this is great product and it’s now my main charging device for my Nexus 4. It’s pricey enough at a nickel under US $70, but the combined Qi charger and battery pack make this essential for anyone who has a Qi-equipped smartphone such as the Nexus 4 / 5 and  some of the Nokia Lumias. You can use the N11 on your desk or on the go. Recommended.

Thanks again to Mugen Power for the review unit.