Accessory Review: The i.Sound Portable Power Max

iPhones and iPads are becoming essential items for the users today, who may need to go 16 hours non-stop and don’t have time to sit in one place long enough to charge their iDevices. For power users, power itself is a crucial and limiting commodity. Portable battery chargers are available, but they generally can only support one to two devices and provide a few charges at best. The i.Sound Portable Max backup battery by dreamGEAR can enable a user of an iPhone 4 to jump from seven hours of talk time on 3G to eighty-four hours, or get 30 hours of use for the iPad. It’s sleek, portable, and best of all, affordable.

Read on for my review of this potentially indispensable battery backup.

What’s Included

Inside the box, the user will find the i.Sound Portable Power Max, soft cloth carrying bag, the AC adapter and a split USB to mini USB/micro USB cable.

Build

The i.Sound Portable Power Max is compact and stylish, matching the black and aluminum aesthetic of Apple products. Its dimensions are 1 inch x 3.25 in x 5.75 in. It easily fits in a briefcase or shoulder bag, or even a large pocket. It weighs 14 ounces, or about the same as 3 iPhone 4s. It is surprisingly light. I expected a hefty brick for such functionality. Users interested in keeping the glossy black exterior pristine will have to make the effort to keep the device in the included soft cloth carrying bag, as the surface is susceptible to scuffs and scratches. However, the device is solid and seemingly durable.

On one end of the device are the 5 USB ports and 100/240V AC/DC adapter input. On the other is the power switch, LED charge and power status indicator, built-in LED flashlight and switch. The battery itself is a lithium-polymer battery or li-polymer.

Functionality

The Portable Power Max stores 16000mAh of power. i.Sound states that this is the equivalent of 480 hours of power. This means you could fully charge either an iPhone 4 11 times, an iPad 2 times, an iPod Touch 18 times, an iPhone 3G 14 times or an iPhone 3GS 13 times. The battery can charge up to six devices at a time, five through the USB ports or six if using the included USB to mini USB/micro USB split cable. Any device that is charged through USB, mini/micro USB with a maximum current requirement of 2.4 A can be connected including Apple devices, other smartphones, or digital cameras. The time required to fully charge these items varies. I charged an iPhone 4 at the rate of about 1% per minute. This is somewhat better than i.Sound’s projected time of 0 to full in two hours. The iPad 2 charged at the excruciatingly slow rate of 1% per three minutes. Charging multiple devices will increase their charge time. According to i.Sound, charging five iPhone 4′s will extend the charging time by approximately one hour.

Out of the box, the battery was partially charged. It takes 7-9 hours to fully charge the Portable Power Max. Plugging it in overnight and it’s ready to go in the morning. LED indicators display the charging progress. The battery is designed to self discharge 3%-5% a month if unused AND turned off. I accidentally left it turned on and when I went to use it in a pinch, found a dead battery. However, it does charge devices when the battery itself is being charged.

I found the inclusion of the LED flashlight a curious function. It would be extremely useful in a power outage, especially as it operates hands-free.

Value

The i.Sound Portable Power Max retails for $129.99 USD. It could be purchased on Amazon for $83.60. It represents an excellent value, as it is the only product of its kind on the market. I could find no other portable batteries that pack so much power and outlets in a single, lightweight module. The significantly lesser Mophie JuicePack Universal Powerstation with 3600 mAh and only two USB jacks is sold on Amazon for $83.34.

Overview

Compact and lightweight, the i.Sound Portable Power Max offers an incredible amount of juice in a small form factor. It can charge any and all of one’s iDevices repeatedly, extending the life of the iPhone 4 eleven times. Anyone frustrated with finding their iPhone (and numerous other devices) low on battery by lunch time will appreciate the convenience of this reasonably priced and well designed battery. The versatility of being able to charge multiple devices at once could be indispensable for the true power user. Less than speedy charging, particularly of the iPad, or multiple devices, may be a drawback for some.

Watch the promotional video on YouTube.

Note: This device was provided by i.Sound for review.

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