Sent to you by Chris Hunter via Google Reader:
When you're on the go and need a little extra power for a dying phone, a fading laptop, or a weary camera, carrying extra batteries is prudent, but it takes up space and you need one battery for every device. An external battery pack lets you carry one gadget that can charge up anything you plug it into. This week, we're checking out five of the best, based on your nominations.
Earlier in the week, we asked you which external battery packs were best for charging your phone and other portable devices. You offered some great nominations—more than we could feature—but we only have room for the top five:
Anker's line of external batteries hold a ton of juice (the 3E sports 10000mAh, the E4 13000mAh, and the Pro a whopping 14400mAH. The new Pro2 has 20000mAh!) and depending on the model you get, you get a slim, pocket-sized external battery pack that can go anywhere, charge multiple devices at once, and keep them both powered for hours on end even if their own batteries are dead. Many of you who nominated Anker's various external batteries praised them for portability, high capacity and small size, price point, and while not all of them can be charged via USB on their own (they require a separate charging cable), some of them do sport a flashlight and can charge even high-powered devices like netbooks and small laptops as well as phones and tablets. If you're interested, the Anker Astro3E is $40 at Amazon, the AstroE4 is $47 at Amazon, and the Astro Pro is $60 at Amazon.
New Trent started off making portable battery packs for iPhones and iPads, and they've only grown since then. The iCarrier packs 12000mAh in a portable (albeit not pocket-sized) package, and the iGeek has a 9900mAh battery inside. Both models are capable of charing your iPhone or iPad, Android phone, or any other device that charges over microUSB or USB. Those of you who praised the iCarrier and the iGeek noted that it holds a charge forever, and the easy-to-read indicator lights on the top of the device never leave you doubting how much charge your unit has left. Plus, you mentioned it's perfectly capable of charging a phone several times before it needs to be recharged itself. Both models will automatically shut itself off when the connected device is charged, can charge two devices at once. Reader weendex even took it up Mount Kilimanjaro with him, and it kept his iPhone alive and logging the whole trip via GPS the entire time-a whopping seven days. now that's impressive. Both models retail for $70 direct from New Trent, but they're both also available at Amazon: the iCarrier is $70, but the iGeek comes in three capacities, the highest of which being an 11200mAH model that's actually available for $60, less than its 9900mAh counterpart.
Energizer is a huge name in batteries, so it makes sense they would get into the world of portable power packs and chargers. Their power packs are widely available in electronics stores and on the internet, and come with far more tips and cables you could ever need to charge your devices. If you have an old old cell phone that needs a little juice, an Energizer power pack probably includes the tip to charge it, and they're all modular so you can swap them out whenever you need another. Energizer's power packs come in a variety of flavors and capacities. At the bottom is the simple, pocket-sized XP1000, a 1000mAh model that can top off or add a few extra hours to your cell phone, Bluetooth headset, or media player. At the top on the other hand is a the XP18000A, an 18000mAh model that can power your smartphone for days, your netbook for the bulk of a workday, or a portable camcorder or camera for hours on end. Plus it doesn't just charge via USB, it can also power devices via a 9-12V or a 16-20V port. Prices vary between models, and there are plenty between the XP1000 at the bottom and the XP180000A at the top. Since you guys nominated the XP18000 specifically, it's available for $140 at Amazon. By contrast, the XP1000 at the bottom is only $20.
Many of you were fans of Monoprice's external battery packs because they're lightweight, portable, and while few of the ones nominated carry a specifically high charge, they're enough to keep any phone or tablet (or multiple phones or tablets) juiced up in case of emergency, all for remarkably low prices. Monoprice does away with the need for brand names and keeps the costs low, but don't think that with low price comes low power or crappy design. All of the models are small enough to fit in a pocket, and the 5000mAh 9283 (shown above) packs enough juice to keep your device on for a few extra hours, and even has two USB ports to power two devices at the same time. Best of all, it's only $29. The lightweight 1400mAh 6915 will give you a 2-4 hour lifeline for your device via microUSB, and it's only $8. The 1900mAh 7663 sports a slide-out wall plug so you can plug it right into the wall to charge, and an extendable microUSB cable and connector plug to charge your devices that stores neatly in the battery pack's body when not in use. It's only $16. Monoprice has a number of products in the category in all sorts of shapes and sizes—from simple battery packs that plug into the bottom or side of your smartphone or tablet to more complicated units that have multiple tips and detachable cables. Browse the category to find one you like—there's likely one available, and at a steep discount.
Mophie is well known for its Juice Pack battery cases for smartphones, but in this case we're looking for purely external batteries that can charge any kind of device. Thankfully many of you came through with nominations for the Powerstation series of products, from the mainstream, sleek, and portable $80 4000mAh Powerstation shown above to the smaller, more lightweight $60 2500 mAh Powerstation mini, to the more powerful $100 6000 mAh Powerstation Duo. It wasn't universal though, and there were a few Mophie dissenters as well as fans in the mix. Those of you who nominated them praised their size-to-power ratio, offering powerful battery packs in small form factors, all of which fit nicely in a pocket, and can charge pretty much any device over USB, including smartphones, tablets, and netbooks. Mophie themselves are an established brand in the mobile battery space, all of their chargers are about the size of a deck of cards, and eschew the usual plastic shells of other chargers for something metal and sturdy. You can buy all of the Mophie models mentioned here direct, but you can save a few bucks on the 4000mAh Powerstation by grabbing it for $58 (black) or $45 (red) at Amazon.
Now that you've seen the top five, it's time to put them to an all-out vote to determine the community favorite:
Honorable mentions this week go out to the HyperJuice Plug, which despite their attempt to stack the nominations, still represents a great external battery pack that holds a massive charge and can power up multiple devices at one time. Plus, instead of needing an extra cable to plug it into a wall, the body of the battery pack has a slide-out wall plug you so you can just plug it into an outlet directly. You can even charge your devices while it's plugged in.
Beyond that, one of the best things about the other nominees this week were that many of you found and mentioned generic versions of some of the branded chargers and battery packs on the market that are available from third parties and independent sellers. Make sure to check the original call for contenders for more options!
Have something to say about one of the contenders? Want to make the case for your personal favorite, even if it wasn't included in the list? Remember, the top five are based on your most popular nominations from the call for contenders thread from earlier in the week. Don't just complain about the top five, let us know what your preferred alternative is—and make your case for it—in the discussions below.
The Hive Five is based on reader nominations. As with most Hive Five posts, if your favorite was left out, it's not because we hate it—it's because it didn't get the nominations required in the call for contenders post to make the top five. We understand it's a bit of a popularity contest, but if you have a favorite, we want to hear about it. Have a suggestion for the Hive Five? Send us an email at email@example.com!