Review: Ventev Powercell 3000
In addition to the iPhone 5-specific Powercase 1500 we reviewed yesterday, relatively new Apple accessory maker Ventev has also released Powercell 3000 ($50), a less expensive, device-agnostic USB battery pack with twice the stated battery capacity. Although Powercell 3000 isn't a breakthrough in any way, and will likely appeal more to users of non-Apple products than iPhone or iPod owners, we're giving it a quick review for people who might be interested.
Made from soft touch rubber-coated plastic, Powercell 3000 generally resembles a miniaturized iPhone in shape, measuring roughly 4.25” tall, 2.15” wide, and just under 0.5” thick. Most battery packs in this capacity range are shorter in at least one dimension but considerably thicker, so Powercell 3000 stands out by looking like a flat backpack. Black in color, it attracts finger smudges almost immediately upon removal from its package, offset by its use of five bright blue indicator lights and a pill-shaped power indicator button near the top of its front. You’ll also need to hold that button down for a second to turn the power on for recharging.
A fold-out micro-USB cable runs along the left side, supplying power to non-Apple devices such as recent Bluetooth earpieces, while a detachable included Dock Connector cable can be connected to a full-sized USB port on the upper right side for use with a second device. Interestingly, the integrated micro-USB cable only outputs power at a slow 0.5 Amp speed, while the full-sized USB port outputs at 1 Amp, enough to rapidly recharge either an iPhone or iPod. Ventev supplies a micro-USB to USB cable for recharging Powercell 3000 from a computer, but Lightning users will need to supply their own cables.
The 3000mAh battery inside Powercell 3000 is a somewhat unusual capacity—mid-way between the roughly 2000mAh cells we now commonly see in battery cases and the 4000mAh+ cells found in many standalone battery packs. As expected, it was able to deliver more than one full charge for an iPhone 5, actually offering 124% to a device that was fully discharged at the beginning, then re-discharged after hitting its peak. Since the 1 Amp output level is under-specced for iPad use, we didn’t run tests with iPad models, but we’d expect the performance to be roughly comparable to Monoprice’s 3000mAh External Battery Pack reviewed last year—just noticeably slower.
Ventev’s biggest issue with Powercell 3000 is the “tweener” nature of the battery and pricing. For the $50 asking price, you’re certainly getting more raw power for the dollar than with the $80 Powerskin 1500, but you get neither a case nor Lightning cable in this bundle. Compared with Monoprice’s no-frills option, which delivers the same capacity with faster charging speeds for half the price, Powercell 3000’s biggest advantage is a markedly more practical industrial design. While Monoprice came up with one bigger-than-iPhone-sized enclosure to hold whatever battery it wanted to stuff inside, Ventev’s considerably smaller package is easier to carry in a pocket. Users of older Apple devices will find the included Dock Connector cable handy, as well. Overall, Powercell is just good enough to merit a flat B rating and general recommendation; a followup version with an integrated Lightning cable capable of outputting 1 Amp of power would improve its appeal, assuming the price remains the same.