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Summary:

Mobile computer users will tell you that the number one need they have is for sufficient battery power.  That fancy notebook or netbook doesn’t do much good when it has no juice to run and there are no power outlets nearby to quench its thirst.  The […]

PowerpadMobile computer users will tell you that the number one need they have is for sufficient battery power.  That fancy notebook or netbook doesn’t do much good when it has no juice to run and there are no power outlets nearby to quench its thirst.  The standard solution for this is to add bigger batteries to the notebook but as Kevin points out at some point the size/ weight penalty begins to make that solution less than viable.  There is another solution however that will work for many that shouldn’t be overlooked.

External battery packs are nothing new, they’ve been around for years.They are nothing more than large battery packs that are not designed toattach to the notebook, rather they are separate gadgets that plug intothe notebook much like a power adapter.  They can power most laptops for8-10 hours without a plug and that makes them viable solutions to thedry battery problem that road warriors often face.  These externalpacks can be somewhat expensive with good ones running about $300 butwhen you need them you really need them.

I used such a solution for years and found it easy to implement.  Theexternal battery pack stayed in a pocket in my bag and when I neededthe juice or to top off my internal notebook battery I simply ran thecable from the pack to the notebook without removing the pack from thebag.  While I had to deal with the extra weight of the pack in the bagusing it this way didn’t add much inconvenience and that was important.  I would also connect the notebook to thebattery pack in my car between meetings and could insure my notebookbattery would last all day as a result.  That’s the other benefit theseexternal packs bring, they charge the notebook battery while runningthe notebook which is a double benefit.

PowergorillaElectrovaya is a company that is famous for their external batterypacks and I have heard nothing but good things about them.  Their PowerPads come in assorted sizes depending on the size you are willing to carry around and the battery life you need. GearLog recently reviewed a relatively new battery pack called the Powergorillaand they seemed to be pretty impressed with it.  All of these externalbattery packs are available with power tips that fit most notebooks sothey are a "one size fits all" approach that can be used with multipledevices if need be.  They are not cheap but for the road warrior who isconstantly faced with the dreaded empty tank this method shouldcertainly be considered.

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  1. In the old days (before 9/11) I used to carry one of these on vacation. Now I fear some thing like that will be a cause of increased hassles when flying by air. Anyone now flying with one of these?

  2. @MarceloR:

    I actually just took a trip to the West Coast and I had my Power Gorilla with me (I actually also got the Solar Gorilla which is the solar charging component to the system) in my laptop bag. I went through airport security just fine. I don’t imagine why there would/or should be any increased hassles, this thing looks just like a regular portable battery pack.

  3. I have no problems carrying my Tekkeon external battery through airports. The bag that contains my Wibrain and Tekkeon rarely gets a second look, certainly not at major airports.

  4. I’ve flown with a Tekkeon battery pack in my carry-on without issues. It shouldn’t be a problem at all.

  5. I have the batterygeek external battery pack. It is one of my ‘must have’ devices when I travel. Just this year I’ve flown from South Africa to Israel, Argentina, Uruguay, Hong Kong, London, Kenya and Uganda… It’s a busy life! But, with the external battery I can work on long flights, or work a whole day without needing to be near a power adaptor.

    Mine is used with both a Sony Vaio UX180 and my Macbook Air (batterygeek sell a magsafe adaptor that will power the Air or Macbook / Macbook Pro, but not charge it). I get about 10 hours of use with my Air, and about 15 hours of use with the Vaio.

    Another benefit is that it serves as a backup power supply if my power supply should ever die while traveling.

    It’s worth the extra weight, and I have never had any problems with airport security.

  6. If you take the external powerpack plus its charger it usually can replace your laptop power brick too, adding some weight but taking some away too! I’m using the Tekkeon MP3450.

  7. Thanks for taking my comment James! Wanna share the kudos?

  8. James Kendrick Tuesday, November 4, 2008

    I’m sorry Luscios, I don’t follow. What comment?

  9. While I love to use these with my eeePC the power pack I have is only switchable between 16V or 19V output.

    whereas my eeePC 901 requires a 12V input…

  10. 2nd vote for the batterygeek external batteries. They work great and can switch between many different voltages – I used mine on a recent trip to power my laptop, portable dvd player, and e-book (one at a time).

    Don’t get the Electrovaya batteries. While they are initially excellent, if you don’t constantly charge them they go dead. I went through two of their (expensive) PowerPads before giving up on them.

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