2013-09-21

HALO Portable Smartphone Charger

Concept: 4 out of 5
Execution: 4 out of 5
Yeah, but: Not Just For Boy Scouts

The Long Version: This device is a rechargeable battery that will charge your phone when you're in a situation where AC outlets aren't available, with a fairly comprehensive connection system.
Back in November or December 2012 we became aware of this product when it sold the most units in QVC's "Today's Special Value" history. Sold-out within hours and then kept on selling to a computer glitch causing a scramble to obtain more from the manufacturer ASAP. A huge success and fiasco at the same time. (Don't ask how I know any of this).

Once the situation stabilized we ordered three, in silver, blue, and black. Pink and cheetah print didn't really appeal to us. As shown, there is a USB "Y" cable that has another USB on the other end as well as a proprietary connector for the included adapters. Now that the Android smartphone market has settled on micro-usb life is much simpler since we can all share and stockpile chargers, and an adapter for iPhone 4 and earlier is also included along with that dinosaur mini-USB as used on compact cameras and other devices from the last decade. (Remember when every time you upgraded your cellphone the charging connector was completely new and you had to buy a spare for the office and yet another car charger? No wonder everyone got so angry when the iPhone 5 came out).
The "Y" cord is handy because when connected to your Samsung or Apple USB 5-volt AC adapter you can charge your phone AND the HALO at the same time, provided the adapter delivers sufficient amperage. The short cable length is actually a good thing, because when used to deliver power from the HALO to your device it's easy to drop it into your camera bag, purse, or hold in your hand while continuing business without a big tangle of cable.

This version from HALO will charge most current smartphones just as fast an OEM wall unit, and holds enough juice to bring a Galaxy S3 or S4 and most others from death's door to a full charge with enough left over to get another 50%, more or less. After using ours for all of 2013 thus far, there has been no degradation of results, so I feel like the electronics are solid. There's a multi-colored LED display on one end that works when charging OR discharging the battery. Build quality is rock solid, with very durable finishes and excellent materials and design.

What's funny is that it took months for us to get other people to understand this product in the first place. In March, Sylvia and I went on vacation with three friends to Lake Tahoe. Since we're both informed smartphone users and know that turning off WIFI is important when travelling so your phone isn't burning battery searching for non-existent networks at 35,000 feet, our HALO's didn't come into play until our friends couldn't find an AC outlet at Las Vegas's airport terminals that wasn't being hogged by a college student.
When we fly and/or wait pretty much all day on the way to the Dominican Republic in January, our HALO's are going to be worth every penny.

Sylvia's nephew graduated from US Air Force basic training in July, so I gave him our spare black HALO after finding out that he wouldn't get his cellphone back until the bus ride to the airport on the way to tech school. (He's going to be an air traffic controller).
Not only would his battery be flat after sitting in lockup for 6 weeks, but there wouldn't be an opportunity to get a good charge any other way. He's a young guy who was away from his phone for way too long, so I figured the HALO would save his ass. At first he was: "Oh...uhh...thanks..." but from the intel I got after leaving the party, he figured out what it really meant and started carrying it around and showing it off as the coolest thing ever. Just like I predicted, he was the only one of his buds who was able to charge his phone on the bus and the plane, and connect with the outside world after a long time away.

There are other brands, and HALO has other form factors of portable chargers that are bigger and deliver more juice at a higher price. We like ours for the small size and convenience, but your needs may require something different.
While this particular model is featured in the review, I'm more concerned with advocating the concept of ANY portable rechargeable spare universal battery. Speaking from experience, people will remember you favorably as the guy who whipped-out the slick power thingy long after midnight that got them enough juice to return text messages and GPS their way home from a party or club.
When you recall the stories of folks stranded in blizzards or deserts who could've been saved had their batteries lasted longer, I consider owning something like this to be an essential part of smart people's survival gear.
Mine lives in my camera backpack, and Sylvia's is always in her purse. They get used more often than we thought they would, but mainly they are there when we REALLY need them.

2 comments:

  1. Very interesting to see this.

    I bought a portable battery charger a few years ago, and while it worked, it was too easy to inadvertently deplete to be dependable. Last year I found one that uses 4xAA batteries (and can charge them via USB, as well) but it's a bit too bulky to carry prophylactically. This looks like a much more space-efficient design that could become an every-day carry option for me.

    This becomes even more interesting as I think about travelling with a camera that charges its battery via a USB connection. That seems to be the emerging trend for compact cameras, giving these boosters yet another product that they can support.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Another product that these support are e-cigs, as long as you carry the usb-->battery adapter dongle with you.

    ReplyDelete

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