Review: Kensington Travel Battery Pack and Charger for iPhone
Though it may seem like merely another iterative update to the company's prior iPod and iPhone batteries, Kensington's new Travel Battery Pack and Charger for iPhone ($70) is actually different, and a little smarter in some ways than its predecessors. The Travel Battery has a flip-covered Dock Connector that plugs into the bottom of an iPhone or iPod touch, permitting either device's speaker to play audio, and a flip-open USB plug at the other end for recharging the battery. You can expect roughly a full iPhone 3G or 3GS charge from the battery -- more than enough for a full iPod touch recharge -- and can use the Pack to prop up the devices in widescreen mode for easy video viewing while charging. A button on the unit triggers a 5-light power indicator on its face.
The good news about the Travel Battery Pack and Charger is that it’s incredibly convenient. By packing everything you need into one enclosure, Kensington does away with cables, detachable caps, and other potentially misplaced parts, leaving you solely to use the connectors when you need them, then protect them by folding the plastic hinges. While the shape isn’t the best we’ve seen and the lack of a wall charger will leave you to find a spare USB port to top the battery off, your ability to stand your iPod or iPhone on its side edge during charging is a smart idea, and one that really makes this accessory worth considering for on-the-go video watchers. Frequent flyers will particularly appreciate the design.
On the flip side, this battery doesn’t deliver especially impressive run times given its asking price. We were able to recharge an iPhone once from the cell, or an iPod touch one full time with enough left over to partially recharge again—far less than the capacity of the best-rated batteries we’ve tested from competitors. This was compounded by the inaccuracy of the 5-light LED, which told us that four dots worth of power remained after we completed a full iPod touch recharge, leading us to believe that the battery might have enough left for some serious use. It didn’t: the four dots disappeared rapidly once being connected to another fully-depleted device. You get 5.5 Watt-Hours here, or roughly the same capacity as an original model iPhone, no more.
Overall, the Travel Battery Pack and Charger is a good option for those who favor true all-in-one convenience over battery capacity or extra pack-ins, and as with all Kensington products, it’s a much smarter buy if you shop around and find it for its $50 street price rather than its $70 MSRP. Apart from the flaky remaining power indicator, which looks better than it works, it would be easy to recommend to anyone who wants cable-free convenience for extended video viewing on a plane’s seatback tray or other flat surface.