It's not every day that a new entrant into the accessories market supplies us with their entire external battery pack product line, but that was the case with Tylt, a two year-old company that is making a splash with some nicely-designed devices. We received one of each of their Tylt Energi line of portable battery packs, most of which include a built-in charging arm. But the most fascinating part of this line is the level of certifications that each battery pack has captured, making them a rarity in a world where it seems like everyone is making cheap battery packs.
For TUAW readers that will be at Macworld/iWorld 2014 on Friday, March 28, be sure to drop by the TUAW Meet Up at 4 PM PDT in room 131 at Moscone Center North Hall, as we'll be giving away some of these fine battery packs.
- Price: US$39.99; Capacity: 2000 mAh at 1A; Ports: one USB; Size: .43" x 2.28" x 3.74" (11mm x 58mm x 95mm)
- Price: US$59.99; Capacity: 3000 mAh at 2A; Ports: one USB, micro-USB charging arm; Size: .56" x 2.56" x 4.05" (14.3mm x 65mm x 103mm)
- Price: US$69.99; Capacity: 3000 mAh at 2A; Ports: one USB, Lightning charging arm; Size: .56" x 2.56" x 4.05" (14.3mm x 65mm x 103mm)
- Price: US$79.99; Capacity: 5200 mAh at 3A; Ports: one USB, micro-USB charging arm; Size: .56" x 2.76" x 5.59" (14.3mm x 70mm x 142mm)
- Price: US$89.99; Capacity: 5200 mAh at 3A; Ports: one USB, Lightning charging arm, micro-USB charging arm; Size: 56" x 2.76" x 5.59" (14.3mm x 70mm x 142mm)
- Price: US$69.99; Capacity: 10400 mAh at 4.1A; Ports: three USB; Size: .94" x 3.15" x 4.72" (24mm x 80mm x 120mm)
- Colors: Black and Blue, Black and Red, Black and Gray (10K does not have red option)
- Certifications: CTIA-IEEE1725, UL 1642, UN 38.3, RoHS Compliant, FCC, CE
Probably the two Tylt Energi models that will be of the most interest to iOS fans are the 3K+ and 5K+. Why? These two have an attached Lightning charging arm; think of it as a built-in cable that is always with the battery pack. Of these two, the 3K+ is perfect for charging an iPhone or iPod touch, featuring enough power to recharge your iPhone more than once. The 3K+ also has an empty USB port, and the device can charge two iPhones at the same time.
The 5K+ not only has that Lightning charging arm, but also features a micro-USB charging arm and an empty USB port. It can handle an iPad, or up to three iPhones simultaneously.
Physically, the battery packs are quite attractive, featuring a common design with a black case and a color (blue, gray or red) stripe across the middle. All of the packs except the 10K have a single LED status indicator -- the 10K has five LEDs to indicate the relative battery level of the pack.
I tried both the 3K+ and 5K+. The 3K+ charged up in about 3-1/2 hours from a fully discharged state, while the 5K+ took about 6-1/4 hours to charge up. All of the Energi packs include a USB to micro-USB cable for charging purposes, although you'll need to supply your own AC to USB adapter.
The Lightning charging arm on both the 3K+ and 5K+ tuck away in the sides of the battery pack when not in use, a nice feature since you don't have to worry about having a cable tangling in your favorite carrying bag.
Personally, I think it's interesting that Tylt has gone through the process to have the packs certified. According to Tylt, "IEEE 1725 regulates battery design, production, assembly, leakage protection, overcharge, mechanical performance and quality control." Tylt's Energi line is also "certified to meet UL's vast protocol for Lithium batteries known as UL 1642." The UN38.3 regulation ensures the safety of battery products on aircraft and in other transport, with the Energi products meeting and exceeding "all eight UN requirements including: Altitude, Thermal Test, Vibration, Shock, External Short Circuit, Impact, Overcharge, and Forced Discharge."
So what does all of this certification nonsense do for you? Tylt says that they're using the same manufacturing and safety standards used by companies like Samsung and Apple. There's no memory effect on these batteries, which will give you 500 full cycles of life. The mAh capacity is exactly as stated, and the batteries are guaranteed to work in extreme temperatures. Finally, the company provides a one-year warranty on the products since they're so sure they're going to operate as advertised.
That's a far cry from the much less expensive, but shady battery packs we've seen from some manufacturers. It's great to see a company that is willing to go for quality over price.
All external battery packs are not alike, and Tylt's Energi line of battery packs is one of the first we've seen that puts performance and safety in front of low price. That's not to say that the Energi packs are costly -- some manufacturers actually charge more for packs with less pedigree. We consider the Energi packs to be among the top performing ones we've tested, and the 3K+ and 5K+ are perfect companions for your iPhone since they include a built-in Lightning charging arm.
Rating: 4 stars out of 4 stars possible