This power pack goes to 11 (thousand mAh) for serious juice

Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

There is a ton of competition in the external battery pack space. You can get a ruggedized brick for your Xtreme adventures, a cute little pocket-sized charger for a quick hit of juice in the car or on the go, and even an iPhone-wrapping battery pack that gives you even more storage space than you might need.

I live a portable, electronic-powered life, carrying iPhones, iPads, e-Readers, and portable gaming devices with me at all times. Most of these things are power-hungry, forcing me to keep my eye open for wall plugs, or to carry external power packs that can handle the energy load.

So what does a battery pack need to do to set itself apart from the crowd, claiming the scarce space in my backpack or messenger bag? It has to be quick to charge, easy to use, small, light and pretty to look at, for starters. And it really should have a lot of spare power to keep all my devices rolling.

The time from plugging in my iPhone or iPad to seeing power register onscreen is a nice zero seconds.

The unit I tested, the Kanex GoPower Pack 11,000 mAh model, has two USB ports (one for iPhones, one for iPads) on the long end of the rectangular brick, setting it apart from the 6,000 mAh model, which puts the USB ports at the end of the brick. While I thought this design choice would be annoyingly non-ergonomic, it turns out to be a non-issue. The placement of ports makes this thing look right at home on my desk or in my backpack. The micro-USB power input is placed on the short end of the brick, which makes it an easy charge with the included cable.

There’s a power meter on the back there, next to the two USB ports, which quickly lights up when anything is attached; the four LED lights show, quickly and easily, how much juice is left whether I’m charging my iPhone or re-charging the GoPower pack itself.

The “front” of the power pack has a little grey slide out piece that lets you prop up your iPhone or iPad while its charging; a nice feature that really isn’t that necessary. It only worked with my devices when they were out of their own cases, and seemed limited to functioning with an iPhone or iPad mini, really — the iPad 3 is just a bit too heavy to trust to the bit of plastic on the Kanex device.

The killer feature here, though, is the speed with which the GoPower Pack delivers the power to any connected device. Some power packs take a second or two to register the power. When I plug my iPhone in to them, my over-active brain worries if I’ve connected them solidly enough while I wait that extra time to see the “now charging” imagery on my iOS device. This brick, though, had no hesitation; the time from plugging in my iPhone or iPad to seeing it register onscreen is a nice zero seconds.

All in all, the Kanex GoPower Pack 11,000 mAh external battery pack is a nice addition to my power management strategies while on the go, and even at home. It’s got enough juice to keep my iPhone full up for a couple of cycles, as well as a bit left over for iPad mini juicing. While the larger capacity is nice, the price is even better. At $70 ($50 for the smaller capacity), you won’t be sorry you picked one of these bad boys up.

20140520_kanex-charger_0028-finalGoPower Pack by Kanex ($69.95)
The good: Looks good, charges quickly, has a ton of power.
The bad: Differentiating iPhone stand feature is a little silly.
The verdict: Grab yourself one of these at your next opportunity, the price/performance ratio is strong with this one.
Buy from Kanex

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About the author

Rob LeFebvreAnchorage, Alaska-based freelance writer and editor Rob LeFebvre is Cult of Mac's Culture Editor. He has contributed to various tech, gaming and iOS sites, including 148Apps, VentureBeat, and Paste Magazine. Feel free to find Rob on Twitter @roblef

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