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5/21/2012
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Battery-Charging Bags Keep Devices Going On The Road

If you carry multiple devices and don't have time to sit and let them charge, a Powerbag could be the answer. Powerbags--backpacks, briefcases, and messenger bags made by the eponymously named company--include an internal battery with short cables for charging various devices. We tested a backpack.

A Powerbag seemed like the perfect answer to my problem of keeping all my devices charged while on the go. Powerbags--backpacks, briefcases, and messenger bags made by the company of the same name--include an internal battery with short attached cables for charging devices. After using the Powerbag Business Class Pack for several months, I'd say a Powerbag comes close to solving the problem of keeping myriad devices charged, but it definitely needs some refinement.

Powerbags come equipped with their own large-capacity internal battery--a 3000mAh, 6000mAh, or 9000mAh pack. Extra batteries cost $39, $49 and $59, respectively. My review Powerbag came with a 6000mAh battery. To use the bag, first you charge its own battery by plugging the included AC adapter into the charging port located on the outside of the bag. Then you connect your devices, press the Powerbag's power button, which is located on the outside of the bag along with a row of status lights, and you're ready to go. All Powerbags come with four connectors for mobile devices: one Apple 30-pin connector (for iPhone), one mini-USB, and one micro-USB. In some bags, these connectors are in a small compartment just big enough to fit a phone. The fourth port is a USB port located on the battery pack itself.

We caught up with Powerbag at the CTIA Wireless conference in New Orleans recently. We interviewed Powerbag's Kaisha Taylor and did a quick teardown of one of the models:

It's definitely cool to be able to charge any device, let alone multiple ones, in a bag that you need to carry around anyway. My problems with Powerbags are threefold. For one, though my model was the largest of the backpacks, it wasn't as big as I would have liked. UBM Technology's chief content officer David Berlind tried the same bag and had the same reaction. Perhaps we like to carry too much stuff.

My second gripe is the connectors. Powerbag has to design for a broad market, but I would have liked a little more flexibility in the plugs. I suspect the mini-USB, a connector that is clearly on the decline, won't get used much. It would have been much better to have a second micro-USB port instead. As it was I had to choose between two of my devices, my Kindle and my iPhone battery case, to charge, because the Powerbag couldn't do both. At least there's a USB port, which you could always use to add a USB hub. It's kind of hidden, so I didn't remember to use it much, but the USB port worked fine when I did.

Finally, Powerbags aren't cheap, with prices ranging from $139.99 to $249.99. My backpack cost $179.99. This is a lot of money for a backpack, so charged devices will need to be important to you.

On the bright side, the Powerbag never let me down. It worked all day charging my devices; every night I topped it off for the next day.

The Powerbag marketing video below offers more bag demonstrations.

Name: Powerbag

If you carry devices around and don't have time to sit and let them charge, a Powerbag could be the answer. These backpacks, briefcases, and messenger bags work off their own rechargeable lithion-ion battery. Short attached cables in charging pockets let you charge up to four devices simultaneously.
Price: $139.99 to $249.99 depending on model.
Pro:
  • Good-quality, attractive bags.
  • Charging devices anywhere is really convenient.
Cons:
  • Limited types of charging connections.
  • Backpacks are relatively small.
  • Expensive.

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