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Microsoft reportedly considering Android apps as a solution for Windows Phone

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27

Windows Phone Accessory Review: NRGdeck Power Bank 5000

NRGdeck Power Bank 5000 Lead

If you use your Windows Phone a lot on the go – whether to play games, watch videos, or plain old make calls and text – you’ve probably run into the dreaded ‘Critical Battery Warning’ once or twice. As the phone’s battery ages, it starts holding less of a charge, thus making battery life an even greater concern. You can always buy a new battery, but people like me who plan to replace their existing phones with a shiny new Windows Phone 8 handset later this year probably don’t want to spend too much on an accessory they won’t be needing any more in a few months. That’s where the NRGdeck Power Bank from Porta Solutions USA comes in.

The NRGdeck is an external battery pack/charger for USB devices, so it’s not strictly a Windows Phone accessory. But it is a versatile charging product that can power two devices at once, helping keep your phone and other electronics going when wall outlets are in short supply.

5000 gigawatts, I mean, milliamps

 At the time of this writing, the NRGdeck Power Bank comes in one capacity: 5000mAh. Porta Solutions recently added a new unit to their website with a whopping 11000mAh capacity, but that unit isn’t available for purchase just yet. Still, the 5000mAh model I’m reviewing should provide more than enough power for most users’ needs. For comparison, the original Samsung Focus battery holds 1500mAh, the Focus 2 1700mAh, and the Nokia Lumia 900 clocks in at 1830mAh. Thus a fully-charged Power Bank 5000 can actually more than double (and in some cases, triple) a WP7 handset’s battery life. Not too shabby!

A Titanic battery

The Power Bank 5000 is a black rectangular device with curved edges measuring 4.33 inches x 0.57 inches x 2.76 inches and weighing 5.28 ounces. That makes it a bit smaller and lighter than an HTC Titan II, but not dramatically so.  Obviously there is a tradeoff between size and utility with the NRGdeck, the semi-large physical size allowing for much greater power capacity than the tiny batteries found inside normal smartphones. Still, it’s not so heavy that you’d notice it when stored inside a messenger bag or backpack, and it could fit inside (and fill) an empty pants pocket in a pinch.

The front (4.33 x 2.77 inches) of the NRGdeck boasts a logo, an iOS-like power button, and a 4 unit LED power indicator. Plug the unit into a power source (a wall outlet, computer, etc.) and the LEDs light up as it charges. I didn’t measure the charging time, but it went from nearly empty to full overnight when plugged into the wall - not bad at all considering how long some phones take to charge.

NRGdeck Power Bank 5000 charging 2 devices

The only other side of the NRGdeck with any features is the 2.77 inches x .057 inch side that holds a micro USB input port and two standard USB output ports. The output jacks are not identical: one pumps 1A of power (enough for your average Windows Phone) and the other 2.1A (for tablets and other high power devices). As if the versatility of output wasn’t useful enough, the Power Bank 5000 can actually charge two devices simultaneously. During my recent excursion to Casual Connect Seattle, I often plugged in both my phone and digital camcorder at the same time with no apparent impact on charging speed.

One cable and many plugs

The NRGdeck includes a single coil cable (approximately 24 inches in length) with a standard male USB end and a non-standard circular female end. To make use of said cable, you’ll need to attach one of several plugs. Included are a micro USB plug (perfect for Windows Phones), a mini USB plug, an iOS plug, and a circular plug.

If you’re just using the Power Bank with micro USB devices like WP handsets, you can leave the micro USB plug attached all the time; plug it into the input port on the device to charge it; and plug it into an output port to power the phone. No need for additional cables or plugs in that situation. But any USB cable with one standard male end will work, making the included cable optional rather than required.

Performance

What’s it like to actually use the NRGdeck? Quite the pleasure. Once you’ve connected a device to the unit’s power output, you must turn on the Power Bank in order to charge the device. Lightly tapping the power button doesn’t quite do the trick; I had to hold the button for a second or the NRGdeck would power down instead of initiating charging. That nitpick aside, once you learn to hold the power button long enough, you shouldn’t have any issues getting the juice flowing as intended.

While the NRGdeck transfers power to another device, its blue power LEDs come on and indicate remaining charge. As the power gets used, you can see it tick down from 4 LEDs all the way to zero. The charging process works best with the Power Bank and any connected devices sitting on a flat surface so the power cord or cords don’t get bumped too much.

I found that I could use my Windows Phone while connected to the NRGdeck, but if I moved the phone around too much the connection would come loose – pretty much the same as using it when connected to an AC charger. Powering a camcorder during non-stationary use wouldn’t be a great idea, considering the weight of the battery would likely tug at the cable and interrupt the flow of power.

Overall Impression

Some folks can power their phones from a single nightly charge and never run too low on juice – it all depends on your usage habits. For my own part, if I do an hour or so of unplugged gaming, I’m guaranteed to run down before the end of the day. Factor in trips to places where wall outlets aren’t available, and the need for an extra battery or a product like the NRGdeck becomes apparent.

The NRGdeck Power Bank 5000 is a fantastic solution for powering portable USB devices, including Windows Phones. I love that it will work with Windows Phone 8 handsets and many other portable electronics that come along within the next few years. If you’re a regular user of high-drain devices like tablets or larger camcorders, you might want to hold out for the upcoming Power Bank 11000. But most smartphone users will do just fine with the 5000 mAh model.

During my recent conference trip, I used both my Windows Phone and smaller camcorder quite frequently throughout the day, easily draining the charge from their built-in batteries. But the NRGdeck kept up with my needs and never ran dry as long as I charged everything at night. The freedom to use my phone for whatever purposes I wanted, including gaming, without worrying that it would end up completely dead before I got back to the hotel was most appreciated. If you rely on your phone for entertainment, business, and everything in between as well, you might just need a Power Bank too.

The NRGdeck Power Bank 5000 retails for $69.99, but you can get it for just $30.99 through an Amazon third-party seller. Amazon fulfills the order, so it’s eligible for free Prime shipping.

QR: NRGdeck Power Bank 5000

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Reader comments

Windows Phone Accessory Review: NRGdeck Power Bank 5000

27 Comments

How long does it take to charge your phone? Please add this information to this review! If you are at 10% how long does it take to go to full power using this device? I've been looking for a good external device, and would buy it now, if you guys recommended it. Well, after you put up the proper specs.

Don't have numbers, but my general impression is that using a power pack feels more comparable to charging on a laptop than with a wall charger. Going from 10% feels almost like an overnight thing, so the best way is either to plug in the pack while doing power draining things, or use it to top up the phone during the day.

It's a shame that the box mentions Apple products, twice, as the casual shopper might not include this in a purchase thinking that it's 'i' only.  Silly, silly marketing people.

You know, if you go on eBay and type in your phone name + "battery", you can usually find a battery for around $4, or 2 batteries and an external battery charger for $10. The batteries last about 75% of the time your normal battery lasts, but if you are an avid user of your phone it's cheap and it's a life saver!

Anyway about it, Micro or Mini, if it used one of other, it is like $0.50 for an adapter.
 
I picked up a bunch of the Mini to micro adapters on ebay for like 0.10 each, so I grabbed about 8 of them (total udner $2 shipped). All my Touch Pro 2 chargers (incuding the car) worked with my Trophy till I got new ones..

In one line of the review I mistakenly said that Windows Phones use mini USB. That has since been corrected (they use micro USB); sorry for the confusion.

This might have been a good alternative to the couple extra-capacity batteries I just bought for a trip.
 
I see the button looks like it was lifted from an iPhone. Another patent case for Judge Judy!

MiiPower by Mikey makes a great charger. That's what I use for my Lumia 900 and it gives me about 2.5 full charges. Good price and a great product, even comes with a bright LED light for times when you need a quick flashlight. Also shows charge power left with 4 blue lights...

Thanks for the tip! I travel often and always drain my Titan's battery gaming/listening to music. I have a mental outlet map at a lot of airports lol. And with Amazon's price, I see no reason not to buy this. Thanks again!

I guess the natural evolution from headset cable routing on messenger bags (and functional/nerdy clothing...) would be to add a something similar for power packs. I can see actual messengers, who are constantly plugged into their phones, having a use for that.

Nah, dont need this, I have 6 batteries for my phone... I keep them all charged... (when I go out knowing that I will be board or using navi, I drop one into my pocket). I used have a TP2, and all the batteries work on the Trophy,
 
I think it would be nice to keep in the glove box tho...just in case..