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Powertraveller Minigorilla

Review Put a primate in your netbook’s tank
Mon Sep 14 2009, 16:17

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Product: Powertraveller Minigorilla
Website: www.powertraveller.com
Specifications: Battery type - Lithium-polymer; output voltage/capacity - 5V USB (6000mAh), 8.4V (4000mAh), 9.5V (3500mAh), 10.5V (3200mAh), 12V (2800mAh), 19V (2000mAh); output current - 5.5V @ 700mA; 8.4/9.5/10.5/12V @ 3A; 19V @ 1.5A; weight 265g; dimensions (WxDxH) 150x83x14mm
Price: £99.95

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MINIGORILLA IS THE latest addition to UK-based Powertraveller's primate-themed range of portable power solutions. It's aimed at netbook users, but it's got plenty of other handy tricks hidden in its fur.

boxOne of the biggest disappointments when you fire up a brand new netbook is that almost immediately, the battery dies. Building to price points means that manufacturers stick in the lowest-capacity battery pack they can get away with, and charge a hefty premium for the really useful sizes. For example, our pet Acer Aspire One test machine ships with a pathetic 2300mAh 3-cell battery that lasts under two hours on a good day. For the meatier 6-cell 5200mAh official model you'll have to cough up £87 from Acer's online store.

Cheapo compatible batteries are available of course, but given the woeful history of defective and exploding power packs - as reported here with monotonous regularity - having a product with a real company behind it is much more reassuring.

The Minigorilla is two lithium-polymer rechargeable batteries providing a total of 9000mAh housed in a semi-ruggedised rubberised case. Its cleverness lies in the fact that it has six selectable output voltages - including a 5V USB outlet - making it capable of powering almost any portable device including your phone, camera or even a Nintendo DS Lite. And as it's brand-agnostic, you can keep using it with whatever new hardware you get.

The laws of physics mean that at different output voltages it has different output capacities, and for our test netbook that meant 2000mAh at 19V, just less than the standard 3-cell battery. At the other end of the scale, for 5V USB connections it has a 6000mAh capacity.

In the box there's one standard power cable for non-USB devices, with 11 tips - or ‘Gorilla Nuts' as Powertraveller prefers to call them - and a neat retractable USB cable with a separate set of eight tips - or ‘Monkey Nuts' - including standard mini-USB and micro-USB. A full list of compatible devices can be found on the Powertraveller website.

fullkitIt took around five to six hours to fully recharge the Minigorilla. In our rundown test, the Aspire One's battery lasted 1h 55min. Using the Minigorilla alone by removing the netbook's battery added another 1h 40m to this, giving us a total of 3h 35min. Using the Minigorilla to recharge our netbook took 1h 22min, although predictably it didn't quite make it to 100 per cent charge, keeling over at 97.5 per cent.

Using the Minigorilla is easy enough for even an ape to master, although it doesn't set the voltage automatically except for the 5V USB output. So you'll need to check the output rating of your power adapter first. You select the voltage - displayed alongside the charge level on the small blue LCD status display - with a single button, which also turns the Minigorilla on and off. One teeny gotcha is that the Minigorilla appears to the netbook as a DC source, not a battery, so it thinks it's being powered by the mains - you'll need to adjust any power-saving schemes accordingly to get the best battery life from it.

To round off this excellent package you get a smart black neoprene carrying pouch, plus a DC adapter with a set of international mains plugs, though sadly these bits won't fit in the pouch.

There's also an information sheet on the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation for those whose love of primates extends beyond just volts and amps.

In short
You don't have to be a Homo sapiens to see that the Minigorilla makes more sense than buying spare batteries for each of your portable devices. It's a well thought-out product and even manages to look the part as well. µ

The Good:
Well made and packaged; lightweight; large range of devices supported.

The Bad:
Pricey, although its versatility somewhat makes up for this.

The Ugly:
Not a massive capacity, but plenty for most mobile emergencies.

Bartender's score:
9/10

beer9

 

 

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