Tech News on G4
Cool Clever Cases Double as an Extra Battery
Mar 12, 2009
By Greg Gazin - Apple Gaziní - G4 Canada
It no secret for anyone using any sort of portable device that these days that one needs both some sort of protective covering and often more battery power that any units holds. Two iPod/iPhone accessory makers have come up with a clever way to incorporate a lithium polymer battery within an actual case without adding overall a significant amount of bulk for the user.
myPower MP1200 for iPhone
The first one, from Tekkeon is the myPower MP1200 (US$69.95). From the exterior, it simply looks like a nice leather sleeve, but if you poke inside, tucked in at the bottom is an iPod/iPhone dock connector. Beneath it, hidden, is a small 1500mAh lithium polymer battery effectively doubling your battery capacity.
Outside, on the lower left side is a tri-colour LED (Green Yellow Red) indicating the status of your battery. It also houses a mini-usb plug that with the supplied cable can be used to charge the unit directly from your computer or from a compatible USB charger.
The myPower MP 1200 can be recharged by itself or with the iPhone/iPod attached. If the iPhone is attached, it will also act as a pass through and charge the iPhone as well. It takes around 3 hours to fully recharge the battery and 6 hours if both the cradle and the iPhone are fully depleted their power.
Works With iPod
The iPhone tag is somewhat misleading as it’s compatible the older style 30GB iPod Video, the 80GB and 120GB Classic models and the iPod touch 2nd generation, the unit which I conducted my tests on.
The only challenge with the iPod Touch is that when it sits in the case, you have no access to the headphone jack – so best to use it when playing games or doing other things rather than listening to music with your earbuds.
The myPower MP1200 fit’s nicely in your suit jacket pocket also includes a bonus film called myGuard to protect the screen surface of your device.
Mophie Juice Pack
Functionally similar to the previous model, the Mophie Juice Pack (US$99) features an 1800mAh battery. It’s a nice piece of industrial design with a rubberized soft-touch finish that grips comfortably and features a non-slip surface. The exterior, of course, black to signify the rubber shell, the insides a bright green. This unit acts more like a cape around the iPhone and a little less like a sleeve hugging the iPhone with a nice grip when installed.
It’s battery indicator status took a page from the early MacBooks with a push-button level indicator illuminating a series of 4 LEDS depending on the battery’s level.
Mophie took a different take on compatibility by offering a different model for the various iPhone and iPod Touch models – so they are not interchangeable – but are specifically designed for each unit – so make your you get the right one.
Like the myPower, the Mophie recharged in about 3 hours directly from the connector with the supplied USB cable, but seemed to have a little longer battery life.
Use External Battery First
Both the Mophie and the myPower had the built-in smarts to drain its own battery first and then that of the iPhone or iPod when docked. This is a nice feature, as it would save the device’s internal battery in case they were removed from the respectice cases. With both units, you can also sync with your Mac while plugged in (except for the 1st Gen iPhone).
The Final Word
One little thing I felt was missing from both units was a clip or attachment that would allow you to hook onto a purse or a belt. When sitting in the cradle or sleeve, unless you use a camera case, it’s too big to fit in a standard case. Minor point, unless you need that “connectivity”.
So which one is the winner? While I hate to sit on a fence, they both have their own great attributes. The myPower has a leather case, works with a number of units and costs $30 less. On the other hand, the Mophie has a nice modern rubberized design and although it is mode specific, which may not matter if you only have one anyway, it seems to have a slightly longer battery life - so the choice is yours.
Greg Gazin can be reached at gadgetguy “at” telus “dot” net
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