Review: Kanex GoPower Pack
With its new line of GoPower Packs, Kanex is among many companies that have recently entered the external battery pack business. Available in 6,000mAh ($50) and 11,000mAh ($70) capacities, the chargers share many features in terms of both aesthetics and functionality. Both have two USB ports: one at 1A, the other at a claimed 2.1A for tablets. As has become frustratingly common, however, we discovered issues with the speed of the faster charging port. With either pack, you also receive a drawstring bag and Micro-USB charging cable.
We were somewhat surprised to find that the larger GoPower Pack has the same plastic shell as Cygnett’s recent ChargeUp Pro Powerbank, although performance in our tests showed them to not be identical units. The rectangular block has nice curved edges and comes in at a reasonable weight. Kanex chose a different layout for its ports than Cygnett: instead of stacking the power outputs on top of each other, they’re side by side along one of the long edges, with the four-light battery indicator system to the left of them. The power button has been removed altogether, and the Micro-USB input is around the corner, by itself. Slightly thicker, but 1.3” shorter, the 6,000mAh GoPower Pack houses all three of its ports along one short edge, with the lights below.
Both packs house slide-out stands on their undersides, a nice addition that adds some value. You can slide the stand out and hold a device on it, a feature we haven’t really seen in USB battery packs before.
We tested both batteries the same way, by hooking them up to a fully drained iPad Air and letting them run until empty. Unfortunately, both had the same issue: they charged too slowly. Despite the 2.1A labeling and advertising, Kanex’s packs performed at speeds that indicating their respective ports are actually putting out half that. It took the 6,000mAh pack four hours and twelve minutes to deliver a 51 percent charge. While that’s right on par with our expectations in terms of capacity, the GoPower Pack took roughly as long for a half charge as we would have expected for a full charge. The 11,000mAh pack presents a slightly more complicated result. While it still took far too long—eight and a half hours before it was totally empty—it was able to deliver 103 percent, which is almost 15 percent higher than the average we’ve seen, and 29 percent higher than Cygnett’s battery of the same capacity.
Were it to charge at the speed it promises, the 6,000mAh GoPower Pack would be worthy of our general recommendation. In terms of its price and power output, it’s on par with MyCharge’s AmpMax. Unfortunately, it’s too slow, and the design isn’t quite as strong, bringing it down to a B- level. The 11,000mAh pack is a somewhat different issue, mainly because of its impressive performance. Yes, the charging rate isn’t right, but Kanex gets a lot of power out of that cell, a significant amount more than the average. That’s why it earns our general recommendation. If you’re more concerned with sheer capacity than speed, it’s a particularly appealing option, especially at the price.