If there was one entry in my 2012 gadget round-up a few weeks ago that intrigued readers, it was definitely the Powerbag. Statistically speaking, it received the most click-throughs of any of the gizmos I included.
I managed to get my hands on the Powerbag Business Class Pack a few weeks ago and took it to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which turned out to be the perfect trial by fire. At previous shows, running out of phone juice was a common occurrence given the constant emailing and tweeting from the convention centre floor. Having a portable power source was a theoretical godsend.
The Powerbag did indeed work as advertised. The backpack houses a rechargeable battery deep within its bowels, while a separate pocket has a mini-USB connector and a 30-pin Apple connector. The charging function is activated by pressing a power button on the outside of the bag. From there, you simply plug in your phone or tablet and zip up the charging pocket. The next time you take it out, it’s likely to be fully charged and ready to go.
I used the Powerbag to keep my phone at full the whole time and didn’t need to recharge its battery at all during the week-long show. I had a lot of sympathy for colleagues who were constantly searching for outlets to plug into.
The bag itself was great too. With its myriad pockets, it was easy to keep everything organized. Between the computer, camera, press materials, business cards and other sundries I had to lug around, it was nice to be able to keep everything separate and easily accessible.
For business users, the Powerbag is thus a very good tool. Portable power and good compartmentalization will doubtless make any power traveler’s life easy.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it’s going to become available in Canada any time soon, according to Gregg Hirschorn, spokesman for myCharge, the company that makes the Powerbag. I visited the myCharge booth at CES and Hirschorn told me the company has no plans to make it available north of the border, which means interested buyers may have to pick it up while on a trip to the U.S.
“We’re really not in the business of designing bags,” he said. “We’re in the business of designing portable power products that people can take anywhere and put them in any bag, and make that a Powerbag.”
That’s indeed true, with myCharge unveiling a whole host of portable battery products at CES. The company’s existing products – such as the Peak 6000, which can charge three devices simultaneously – are currently available in Canada, with the new ones coming here as well.
These range from big beasts like the Peak 6000 all the way to two-in-one charger cases for the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S3 (and S4, coming soon). The one I like best is the Amp 2000 (pictured above), which provides enough juice to completely recharge a phone, yet will cost only $29 when it’s released in May. Not only is it cheap, it’s small enough to fit in your pocket.
I’m personally fascinated by the growing and increasingly crowded market for portable power (myCharge is competing against the likes of Duracell and Hyperjuice). With gadgets – especially smartphones – getting more powerful processors and larger, brighter screens, it seems like battery life is getting shorter and shorter. Until manufacturers make similar advances in power, myCharge and its competitors are going to have no shortage of customers.