It is 2016 and almost every digital appliance in our arsenal is battery powered.  While great strides are being made every year in battery economy and longevity, most of us are still chained to some form of external battery pack to supplement our power needs – whether it be a cell phone, tablet, Bluetooth speaker, controller, headphones …. well you get the idea.

With all this need – hundreds if not thousands of manufacturers around the world are trying to come up with the perfect external power source; and if they can’t, they are looking to come up with a different gimmick or hook to separate them from the pack.  Sometimes they are just trying to be the cheapest possible.

Then you have Tech Armor.

DSC01711Tech Armor has taken a different approach.  They are choosing simplicity, style and quality – delivering great product at reasonable prices.

Recently, they sent me two different power packs to review; the ActivePower 3000 mAh and the ActivePower 6000 mAh.

Note: While both units come with a charging cable – they do not include a wall charger.  You probably have 100 of these already anyway.

ActivePower 3000 mAh

Let’s start with the smaller rated of the two.

The 3000 mAh unit comes as a small triangular shaped pack that fits neatly in the average hand.  The solid construction assures you the thing can take a beating – while the two-toned coloring and style with rounded corners and edges make it a comfortable fit in a purse or backpack.  The triangular rubberized design doesn’t lend itself as much to your pants pocket; but for any portable conveyance – it’s a great fit.

Both the input and output plugs are located on the top with a red/blue light hiding under the hood to show charging and full, respectively.

This simple unit has no other indicators to show charge level and no buttons or other complications.

It is important to note that because of the placement of the in and out plugs, you will not be able to have something plugged into both of them at once.  I’m not suggesting you would use and charge at the same time, but if you have a charging center of some sort already, you may not want to remove the output cable every time you want to charge it.

So how long will it last? Ah, the eternal question – and you can honestly never believe any number you’re given (even mine). This should be simple math. How big is your phone’s battery? An older Samsung Note 4 phone has a 3220 mAh battery. The Samsung S7 has a 3000 mAh battery. The iPad Air 2 boasts a 7340 mAh battery and the Samsung Tab S2 8″ tablet has a 4000 mAh battery. Provided you turn off each of these devices before charging, the number of charges you should expect are:

Note 4 = .93 charge
S7 = 1 charge
iPad Air = .41 charge
Tab S2 = .75 charge

That’s math and as long as you’re willing to shut off your device – these numbers are probably somewhat accurate. The real question is – how much longer will your device last if you have the Tech Armor 3ooo mAh plugged in while you use it? Fact is – anyone that can give you a number here is lying through their teeth – because everyone’s usage and battery consumption needs vary.

The closest I’ve come to coming up with a reasonable algorithm is (device hours) + (device hours * (number of charges / 3)).

So the S7, lasting about 20 hours on a charge … (20) + (20*(1/3)).  That means if you had a full charge, plugged this in – your S7 should run 26 hours instead of 20.

You get the idea. Your mileage will definitely vary – but at least you have some idea.

For you Quick Charge folks, you need to be aware this product has only 1A out which is fine for most phones, but won’t keep you from draining while using a tablet or higher drain device.

At $25-30, the Tech Armor 3000 mAh isn’t the cheapest charger out there.  But it is dependable, reliable and made with high quality batteries.  I’ve reviewed a lot of external power packs – and you simply get what you pay for.  The fact that they offer a two year warranty (that’s a year longer than the cheap ones even last) shows commitment to the construction and customer satisfaction.

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ActivePower 6000 mAh

DSC01713This is easily my favorite portable power pack – and I have probably two dozen of them at my disposal.

The excellent quality and warranty follows the 3000 to the 6000 mAh unit.  While you have twice as much juice, it is the design of the 6000 that makes it a clear winner.

The flat rounded edge design is much more pocket friendly while still retaining the style and design Tech Armor is known for.  The aesthetics are nice, but the functionality takes a step up.

Two ports for charging let’s you charge your phone and tablet at the same time.   These ports are located on the top while the input microSD plug is on the side.  This allows you to keep your outbound cables plugged in while you charge.

DSC01716The plugs are 1A and 2.1A out, depending on your needs.  I know what you’re thinking – why would ANYONE want to use 1A out when you have the higher rated plug available?

Not EVERYTHING is high drain, you know.  Things like speakers, headphones, portable lights and other rechargable-via-microUSB don’t need that much amperage pushed at them to charge.  Maybe your goal isn’t to REFILL your smart phone, but merely “stay even” on power for as long as possible.  For some people, what they need is a phone to last on standby for days on end; not to have to shut it off and charge.

It is nice to have options.  Fast charging juice when you’re desperate; nice even trickle when you aren’t.

Also added to the unit is a flashlight function (controlled by holding a button on the opposite side of the charging plug) and a set of four blue lights that will tell you the remaining charge when tapping the same button.

6000 mAh is enough to recover most of a high end tablet’s battery and enough to charge most cells 1.5 to 2 times.  This little guy can keep you going over a long weekend out of town.  When staying with relatives over a four day weekend, I don’t have to worry about setting up a “charging station”; I just bring this along.

I love the way it fits in my pocket.  It feels great in the hand.  It is well-constructed (I’ve dropped it several times – and God only knows what my wife does to it when she has it) and well-performing; plus, isn’t too heavy.  The smooth curves set it apart from the cheap Chinese generic square boxes you can buy for less.

The 6000 mAh unit provides twice the power for just $10 more than the 3000 mAh and the design is more useful.  Like I said – it is easily my everyday go-to charger and I have to fight my wife for it 🙂

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Final Words

If you need more power, the 12000 mAh unit shares a similar design with the 6000 yet has double the juice for your use.  I haven’t had the pleasure of trying it out – but I’m sure it holds its own in the Tech Armor stable.

Bottom Line: Don’t succumb to cut rate cheap batteries.  They don’t last, they don’t deliver clean current and you never know – it might just explode on you.  Consider the thought of plugging a $5 battery into your $700 smartphone … doesn’t really make sense.  Two year warranty and excellent technical support make it worth paying a little more.

No need to take my word for it.  Find a vendor like Amazon that allows generous returns.  Get your hands on the 6000 mAh and take it for a spin.  I promise, you won’t want to send it back!  In fact, you should probably order one for everyone in the family – or they will constantly be stealing yours.

About Shane Monroe

Shane R. Monroe has been doing technical and social commentary writing for over 20 years. Google+

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