Apple handheld devices have relatively decent battery life, but too often users find ourselves watching the power reserve creeping toward single digits with no charge source close by, and more often than not you don’t have the time to hunt around to an available outlet or wait around for your gadget to charge.
On such occasions a portable charge source you can carry with you is more than a convenience, but can save your day, perhaps literally in certain instances. Or perhaps you’re just vegging out on the couch at home and want to keep texting or browsing the Internet but your charge cord is too short to reach the outlet, or you need a power boost on a long flight, or even find yourself in an emergency situation and need to power your phone call for help.
FatCat offers three pocket-size travel chargers to meet your portable power needs and capable of charging your cellphone, smartphone, iPod, camera or in the case of the largest model — the iPad as well — anywhere.
The mid-range FatCat PowerBar 4200, that is the subject of this review, is a light, slim portable device charger that supports smaller (than the iPad) idevices and most other brands of smartphones and incorporates the latest ultra-thin lithium polymer technology matched with advanced charge control circuits. Despite its slim, pocketable form factor, it packs an eponymous 4200 mAh of power reserve — typically more than twice the battery capacity of a smartphone, and enough to recharge most handheld gaming systems up to 2.5 times. The PowerBar 4200′s sophisticated electronics enable it to recognize the power needs of your particular device, and safeguard against over-charging, over-discharging, over-current and short circuits.
The PowerBar comes pre-charged, so you can use it immediately right out of the box, although it’s recommended, if you’re not pressed for time, that you charge the device fully first in order to to optimize initial performance. If your device came with a USB charger, then you can use it directly with the PowerBar 4200. Our test unit came with ample pre-charge capacity to fully charge my wife’s fully-discharged iPod nano with plenty of capacity left over.
To charge your device, you can use its own USB power cord, or alternatively, if your device does not have a USB charger from its manufacturer, then find the correct tip for your device from among the selection of interchangeable tips that comes bundled with the PowerBar 4200, plug it into one end of the master cord, and plug in your device. Connect the USB tipped end of the master cord to the DC-out port of the PowerBar 4200. Tips compatible with most popular devices are included in the default set, but if none be suitable for your device, Fat Cat Gear can supply additional adapters.
To recharge the PowerBar 4200, attach the male USB tip to the power cord and insert it into a USB port on your computer. Choose the micro USB tip for the other end of the MasterCard and connect that to the input socket of the PowerBar 4200, which will take some four to seven hours to charge fully depending on how deeply it’s discharged and the current available from the USB port it’s plugged into.
The battery indicator light in the center of the power switch indicates the level of charge in the unit. One segment lit equals 25% charge; two segments lit equals 50%; three segments glowing indicates 75% charge, and with all four segments lit you have a 100% charge. Charge cycle life is advertised at 500 times, and 80% capacity is guaranteed after one year’s use.
Dimensions of the Fat Cat PowerBar 4200 are 4″ x 2 .4″ x 0 .5″, and it weighs in at 4 ounces.
The package contains the PowerBar 4200 unit, a master cord with with two female connectors, tips for most popular cellphones, smartphones, MP3 players, PDAs, and so forth. There is also a light fabric drawstring travel bag, and a small user’s guide.
The warranty on the Fat Cat PowerBar 4200 is 24 months.
Available in five colors (black, blue, red, orange and silver), the PowerBar 4200 is a handy, take-everywhere auxiliary boost battery pack that will fit comfortably in your purse, computer bag or pocket for use anytime by handheld device users who need mobile power on a regular basis. MSRP for the Fat Cat PowerBar is $69.95.
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The FatCat mPower Travel Charger Series also includes:
- Weighing just two ounces, the ChargeCard is the lightest and slimmest portable charger available. With an output of 2,000 mAH, the ChargeCard is capable of delivering two full charges for a cell phone, and one full charge for an iPod, iPhone or handheld gaming system. MSRP $49.95.
• PowerBar 9600
-Designed specifically with the iPad in mind, the PowerBar 9600 (9,600 mAH) can recharge your iPad anytime, anyplace to full battery power. It can also be used to charge a mobile phone eight times, an iPod four times, an iPhone 3.5 times and a handheld gaming systems 2.5 times before it needs to be recharged. Additionally, the PowerBar 9600 can charge your devices while it is simultaneously being charged. MSRP $119.95.
Each of the FatCat m Power Travel Charger Series devices comes with a male USB, female USB, micro USB, Apple iPod/iPhone compatible tips and DC 3.5 x 1.3 plug. Tips for less common devices are available through the company website.
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