Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Product Test: Anker® Astro Mini 3000mAh Ultra-Compact Portable Battery Charger

This is the second portable battery charger I've tested in as many months, with the primary aim of helping me to keep the various electronic running devices going throughout the Endure24 event. I previous bought and reviewed the Duracell Portable USB Charger 1150mAh, which I got a bargain-basement price of £8! That device successfully allowed me to keep my Garmin 305 charged for almost 9 hours, and there was still plenty of jungle juice left in the device. The full review can be found here. However for this event I would be running for 24 hours and need something to not only charge my watch up also my mobile phone. It required a more powerful device, but without breaking the bank or being too heavy.
Great packaging - felt like opening a new iPod box

After a (very) brief search I found the Anker Astro Mini 3000mAh portable charger. It was more than double the power of the Duracell but just as equally small. I managed to pick it up at a "sale" price on Amazon for £13.99, reduced from £35.99. That's a bargain in my books, and if there is one thing I like as a runner who is constantly buying running stuff, and that is a bargain!

The following table outlines the specification for what is very small device:

Item Weight82 g
Product Dimensions2.3 x 2.3 x 8.9 cm
Manufacturer referenceAK-79AN3K-BA
ColorBlack (could have chosen other colours)
Lithium Battery Energy Content3000 milliamp_hours
Lithium Battery Voltage3.7 volts
Lithium Battery Weight45 grams

Performance Claims
The packaging claims the following:

  • Add more than a full charge or 9 hours of additional talk time to your iPhone 5 / 4 / 4S / 3G / 3GS. On most other phones, benefit from 1 full charge or 90+ hours of audio playback.
  • Stylish, compact, lightweight design (3.5 x 0.9 x 0.9in, 2.7oz) fits easily into any pocket or bag.
  • Shaped to resemble a flashlight or tube of lipstick to provide durable and inconspicuous power at any moment's notice.
  • Constructed using Samsung Grade A cells and premium microchips to ensure the highest quality. Charge time: 3-4 hours via AC 0.8A adapter (not included).
  • Package contents: Anker® Astro Mini 3000mAh External Battery, Micro USB power wire, travel pouch, instruction manual.

As with the Duracell, a GPS watch is not listed so I have no idea of the expected charging ability of this little device. Hence the need for this test. 

One additional thing to mention in relation to performance claims. The Anker device is incompatible with a number of devices including the iPod Nano and iPad Mini and various other tablets. It is also incompatible with some lower-powered GPS devices. This had me worried and so the first thing I did after charging the device for 20 minutes was to see if it would charge my GPS watch. It did - big smiles!

In The Box
The following was in the box:

  • 1 USB Charger (the device)
  • 1 USB  / Micro USB Adapter
  • 1 Carrying Pouch
  • 1 Instruction Manual

Opening the box for the first time was a real delight. It felt like a premium product before I'd even seen the actual device. It reminded me open the pleasure in opening the package around the latest Apple device. So  top marks to Anker on the packaging! I was also pleasantly surprised to see a little carrying pouch was included. This will hopefully keep the little device scratch-free.

The device itself is light weight and compact (marketed as' lipstick-sized'), with top class microchips, Samsung Grade A cells and a rugged aluminum outer shell to protect it from any unwelcome knocks. A short instruction manual was included, although you don't actually need to follow the instructions, it was still nice to have.

As if evident from the picture on the right, the device is small. The spoon shown in the picture is a teaspoon and the Anker device is about 3/4 the length. Very handy and should be able to fit into the smallest of pocked on my hydration vest.

Charging the device

As with the Duracell, charging the device couldn't be easier. It can be done by either plugging into a standard USB port on a laptop, but more effectively by simply plugging it into the mains. Takes around 2 hours to fully charge, with a little light indicating when fully charged.

On the rear end of the battery is a USB port, a micro-USB port and a power button. The operation is simple. To start charging, the power needs to be pressed. The auto cut-off feature conserves the power when the battery is not in use (prevents self-discharge).

Road Test
I tested the Anker device on a 24 hour endurance race using my Garmin Forerunner 305. Before I started I fully charged both the device and the watch, and then connected both devices to ensure the connection was firm. I also used a different cable than the one provided because I wanted it longer for ease of charging whilst running. My mobile phone cable was a good length. It took approximately 2 hours to charge to Anker device fully, which is pretty much in line with what the instructions said. Given how much charge the Anker device is capable of, I thought this was a reasonable (and thus acceptable) amount of time.

I carried the Anker device and the cradle for my 305 in my hydration pack and once my watch had gone down to 1 bar out of 5 bars (around 9 hours with a warning message) I went to charge it. I clipped the watch into the charging cradle and attached the Anker device. I then put the watch (and cradle) around my wrist and dropped the Anker device into one of the large chest pockets on my hydration vest. Due to the small size and shape it fit easily into the pocket. I charged my device for around 1 hour, by which time my watch was fully charged. I also had the added benefit of being able to see my data whilst charging (but this is more to do with the watch as opposed to the charging device). Towards the end of the race I put the watch back on charge, which the Anker device did no problem. 

In very much the same way the Duracell Portable USB Charger 1150mAh performed to expectations, the Anker device was also excellent. In fact when you the compare price I paid for both devices (both in a sale), then the Anker device edges it on value for money given the additional charging capacity and the robustness of the device. I was unable to see how long charge on the device would last because even on a 24 hour race using a watch that only lasts between 8-9 hours, the Anker device managed to meet all my charging needs. I even charged my smartphone before I left the event.

At full price it may be hard to justify the cost vs. the number of times I'd use it; but at the sale price it was a no-brainer and I would fully recommend this over the Duracell product. I look forward to running longer distances in the knowledge that this device will not only charge my watch but also my mobile phone and have a enough juice left in the tank for whatever else I may need it to charge.  

There are a couple of positives I'd like to highlight:
  • Cost - if you hunt around you can pick them up cheap
  • Weight & Dimensions - very light and small
  • Robustness - very sturdy and would take a bomb to damage it
  • Speed of charging - charges a GPS watch quickly
  • Multiple uses - can use it to charge your mobile phone in the case of an emergency

There is only one con to this device:
  • Cost - unless you buy it in a sale it may be hard to justify the cost if you are only going to use it occasionally.

No comments:

Post a Comment