Review: id America L.E.D. Portable Charger
While we've seen a handful of backup batteries integrate flashlights seemingly just because they can, id America's L.E.D. Portable Charger ($80) is different. The 8" long aluminum bar packs three adjustable LED lights -- up from one LED in common batteries -- plus a 5200mAh battery. It can be used as a lamp, a charger, or both. With a base that holds it in tower or horizontal orientations, plus magnets in the back that can stick to a fridge, L.E.D. is certainly versatile. While it's not the most compact form factor for this battery capacity, it's nice to see that real thought was put into the integration of the different elements.
By battery standards, the L.E.D. Portable Charger looks and feels like a premium product, thanks to its black or silver aluminum body. It’s the right kind of dense—heavy without being cumbersome. At the ends, the bar is almost square, measuring 0.83” by 0.87”. One side houses the Micro-USB input and 2A USB output, while the other is home to a touch-sensitive button that allows you to toggle through three levels of brightness, plus a lock switch that prevents the lights from being triggered unintentionally. Those lights are arranged on the front of the unit, spaced about 2.75” apart from one another. On their highest setting, the lights get quite bright—plenty of illumination to read a book in the dark, or see the path from one room to another.
Although it matches the light bar in color, the included dock feels much less sturdy and is overall less impressive. It’s made of plastic instead of metal, which is obvious as soon as you pick it up, since it’s much less dense. Measuring 2.5” in diameter, it has a charging port on the back, and a recess in the middle with a Micro-USB plug sticking up for passing through power; a plastic nub behind it fits into the USB port for support. We encountered some physical resistance when placing the light in the base, causing us to have to really have to force it inside and tug to get it out. This resulted in some paint coming off the plastic onto the metal, thankfully rubbing off fairly easily.
id America advertises that its “2A charging output provides sufficient power for tablets and smartphones,” but while an iPad will charge from it, it won’t do so at full speed. We connected a fully depleted iPad Air to the battery, and after 3 hours and 41 minutes, it delivered a 47 percent charge before switching over to the “not charging” message, which is rather unusual. While the level of the charge was as expected based on past battery tests, the time it took was around twice as long as expected, which is to say closer to 1-Amp.
Our editors had mixed feelings on the overall appeal of L.E.D. Portable Charger, but ultimately, it warrants our general recommendation. It’s a pretty good battery and a good lamp, with a smart, original design, and solid construction. While it falls short in terms of charging speed, we’ve noticed the same issue with a number of batteries in recent days, making that limitation somewhat less offensive. The length of the battery pack may be a drawback to some users as well, but we found the pack fit comfortably into even small bags, and for home use as a lamp, it won’t be an issue. There are some areas where id America could refine this product, but overall, it’s good enough at two tasks to be worth considering.