There are many ho-hum and many good portable battery chargers for our iDevices. Most are just little boxes with a battery, LED lights and USB ports. However, the new Lynktec (5,300 or 8,000 mAh) charger has a multitude of thoughtful features, expansion options and usage profiles. It sets a new standard.
This product has so many features, I'll just start by listing them and then discuss.
- Main charger cable is on a 4 foot (1.22 meter) take up reel.
- The charger tip has an integrated Apple Lightning and microUSB tip (Android).
- Two size options: 2 cell (5,300 mAh) and 3 cell (7,950 mAh). (Called 8,000 for simplicity.)
- Removable USB charging module. (Available option is a wall plug module.)
- All required cables and plugs are included.
- Uses the highest quality Lithium-ion batteries.
- Supplies up to 2.1 amps output (10 watts).
- LED charge status indicators.
- Pass through charging insures both the battery and the device being charged get power at the same time.
This an exceptionally well built and good looking unit. Right away, I got the feeling that this charger would be my go-to travel charger of choice because of its flexibility and design. I was right.
Discussion of Features
Take Up Reel. The most notable feature is the 48-inch cord on a take up reel. As can be seen in the photo below, the side of the battery has a storage trough where the end of the cable catches and is stored. We have two options. Let the end of the microUSB catch in the trough and store the Lighting cable in its docking port just below. That's very well labelled, and that's the Android mode. Or one can leave the Lighting port connected to the microUSB port. It's easy to grasp when it's time to pull the cord out.
Storage trough for charger tips.
The output at the end of the cord is up to 10 watts. So one can use this device to charge a tablet, such as an iPad. For example, an iPad Air 2 has a 7,340 mAh battery and could be fully charged once with the "5X" model (explained below).
Right away, I noticed the cloth-like texture of the 48-inch cable and wondered about it. We Apple customers are so accustomed to white plastic cables. But there's a good reason, as I found out from Lynktec.
1. The flexible cable uses a premium fabric. It won't burn. It's Underwriters Lab (UL) approved.
2. The fabric covered cord has just the right material properties for frequent use on a spring-loaded take up reel.
3. Lynktec partnered with the inventor of this technology. It's also used for phone cords for Boeing airliner's inflight telephones.
4. It's been reel tested for 10,000 cycles without a failure.
The Battery. The ReelJuice uses a premium battery from Japan, the kind used in the Tesla car. Each cell is 2,650 milliAmp-hours (mAh). The "ReelJuice 3x" (called that because it can charge an iPhone three times) uses 2 cells x 2,650 for 5,300 mAh. The "ReelJuice 5X" uses 3 cells x 2,650 for 7,950 mAh and can charge an iPhone 5 times. The rating for these batteries is that after 500 cycles, they retain 80 percent of their original capacity.
In a side note, Lynktec told me that research and developments in electric car battery technology are what's providing the payoff in the design of these small, portable battery units for our iDevices.
USB Charging Module. The basic unit, whether "3X" for US$99.99 or the "5X" for $119.99 comes with a removable USB charging module. There is a short USB cable that can be nicely tucked into the bottom (where it stays as put) and is used to charge the battery. I understand the need to keep that cable short (1 inch, 2.5 cm) for storage, but it does feel too short. It's the only mild negative I found for this product. But there is a solution in the alternate module (see below).
ReelJuice comes with this USB charger module. Note the short cable.
The maximum current allowed to be passed into the battery is 2.1 amps (10 watts). Lynktec says the USB cable, using the same cable fabric for conformity, can support the weight of the whole battery unit if needed.
Charging time is as follows:
- Reeljuice 3X: up to 5 hours to fully recharge using a 5 watt input. Approximately 2.5 hours at 10 watts input.
- Reeljuice 5X: up to 8 hours to fully recharge using a 5 watt input. Approximately 4 hours at 10 watts input.
The charging module connects to the battery with an internal microUSB plug, and a good design ensures that the docking module can fit only one way and the internal plug won't be bent. It's a great design. Also, in that cavity where the two connect is the model, part number, serial number and electrical ratings in very small print.
In the customary fashion, a button on the side lights up a series of red and blue LED's to indicate the charging and battery status. These are explained in detail in the included user guide.
In the top plug of my outlet. It doesn't block the one below.
Charging status lights show 75 to 88 percent charged.
A pass through charging feature ensures that both the battery and any attached device (on the take up reel) are equally charged.
Wall Plug Charging Module. A US$24.99 option, now shipping, is the "10W Rapid Wall Charger" module. The idea is that one can replace the USB module with this module and plug the whole unit into a wall outlet. (Charging times are as above with the 10 watt value). You can leave it at home for short excusions with just the battery or take it with you for longer trips.
Optional wall charger module with fold-flat plug.
The charger prongs fold flat for storage and travel. Also, on the side of this module is a USB-A port (not shown) that becomes active only when plugged into an outlet. I asked Lynktec about the partitioning of power when a device is plugged into that port.
It depends on the power level in the Reeljuice battery and what is connected to the Reeljuice cable. Our smart charging IC gives priority to recharging any mobile device connected to the cable at the maximum rate that the mobile device allows, then the remaining current is shared between the battery and the additional USB-A output port. Using the Rapid Wall Charger USB-A output port could provide up to 10W output if no other devices are connected.
This module can automatically accept a voltage input range from 90 volts to 264 volts, so it may be used worldwide.
Upon examination, I noted a slide switch on the bottom of the wall plug unit. Lynktec explained that also. It's used to connect an alternate plug.
For those that prefer to keep the rapid charger on when they travel internationally, we designed the 10 Watt Rapid Charger module to accommodate clip-on international wall adapters that mount over the fold-flat wall prongs. The adapters are available for UK, Europe, China, Korea, Australia, Brazil, and Argentina. These will all be available on our Lynktec online store in April .
International plug fits over fold-flat U.S. plug.
Some Technical Details
The ReelJuice seems a little on the large side at first, but remember that much of the internal space is allocated to the take up reel. The "3X" model is just under 6 inches (15 cm) long and the "5X" model is just over 6 inches long. The weights are 9.2 ounces (261 grams) and 10.3 ounces (292 grams) respectively.
The data sheet.
I have found from my own experience that when I'm headed out out of the house and need a battery with me, I grab the ReelJuice in preference to any less capable battery. The features, all included cables and flexibility make it worth a few extra ounces.
Packaging & Warranty
The packaging is exceptional. The thick, transparent plastic case not only befits the heft and quality of the product but also highlights the dual microUSB/Lighting charger tip. All the features, compatible products and electrical certifications are listed on the back. Included is a small user guide pamphlet in English and French with details on usage, charging, warranty and contact details. I was impressed.
Rugged, clear plastic case. Lots of info on back.
Information about the warranty, which is one year, is posted at Lynktec's website.
Mobile users need a compete solution, not just a battery in a box. The Lynktec ReelJuice has thought of everything, and its exceptional features and flexibility will make it an essential part of anyone's travel kit. It's especially useful in those situations when one needs battery power, but the battery need to be placed some distance away from your iPhone or iPad: in a coat, on a hotel desk or in an airline seatback pocket. (No more sitting on the airport floor next to a power outlet!)
Its quality batteries, excellent fit and finish, replaceable modules, and take up reel will, I think, make it essential for the mobile user, and I give it my highest recommendation.