Friday, May 25, 2007
Power to Go!! -- the iGo powerXtender review
Posted by Don Tolson in "HARDWARE" @ 08:00 AM
I first tried using the powerXtender on a camping trip with the Cub Pack I lead. We were away from available power sources for the weekend and I purposely let my Eten X500 Phone Edition PPC run itself down to its 'critical' stage of 15% battery left. I figured I'd plug in the powerXtender and leave it for a couple of hours to recharge the phone while I was finishing up a campfire with the boys. When I came back about an hour and a half later, the LED on the powerXtender was off and the Eten was showing about 50% charged. No matter what position the power switch on the powerXtender was in, I couldn't get it to come back on. My first suspicion was that the batteries had been drained by the X500, but when I got home and took them out, they tested at almost 75% on my battery meter. After further testing, I suspect this may be a situation like that described in the User Guide when “Unit may shut off prematurely when used with select devices.” Their suggestion is to disconnect, wait 10 minutes, then reconnect. I didn't try that at the time, but when I tried it later with the Eten, the same shutdown occurred again after only ˝ hour and the only way to get the powerXtender to respond to the power switch was to disconnect the powerXtender from the device, physically remove the batteries from the unit, wait about 30 seconds, then re-install them. Needless to say, although the batteries in the powerXtender are still at better than 70%, I've been unable to recharge my X500 completely with it.
A similar problem occurred the first time I tried the powerXtender with my Motorola HS820 bluetooth headset. I ran it down to exhausted, then hooked up the powerXtender and saw the headset's LED come on to show that it was charging. After leaving it alone for about an hour and a half, I came back to find both the headset's and the powerXtender's power LED off. As per the instructions, I disconnected the powerXtender, waited 10 minutes, then tried it again – no response from the power switch. The only way to get it back was to remove and replace the batteries. After I got it working again, I reconnected it to the HS820 and completed the charge cycle. This time, after another 2 hours, the headset showed fully charged and the powerXtender's power LED was still on, which is as it should be.
I also tried replacing the batteries with fresh ones, and connected the powerXtender to my RAZR v3. It took a couple of seconds after connection for the phone to start charging, but it worked well for about an hour and a half, happily charging away with the powerXtender LED on. After that time however, the powerXtender LED went off again and charging stopped. The RAZR was showing pretty close to fully charged but again, the only way to get the powerXtender to respond to its power switch was to remove and reinstall the batteries.
While the powerXtender could be used to power some handheld devices, plugging one in adds substantial bulk and weight. There is no way you could use a headset or a cell phone with this attached. :-) And it really wouldn't work for items you normally hold in your hand or pocket while you use them. Instead, I would use this to recharge the unit for emergency use for those devices, or as an alternate power source for MP3 players, etc. in situations where you didn't have to keep it 'on your person'. My guess with the shutdowns is that the X500 may be drawing too much current from the powerXtender and it is shutting down in order to prevent damage to either unit. Unfortunately, for me, this makes it unreliable as a backup recharger for my X500. It seems like more work is required on the sensing unit, or there needs to be better indication of why the unit is shutting down (blinking LED?).
Don is an Associate Director with Fujitsu Consulting and a member of its Enterprise Mobility Community. As such, he's always looking for new sources of power :devilboy: