Being no stranger to gadgets, travelling and with an almost obsessive desire to pack lightly, I am constantly on the look out for the next best thing to help reduce my gear charging burden when on the move.
Is the powermonkey eXplorer the answer to my recharging needs?
Let's swing into the review and have a look.
The powermonkey eXplorer arrived ready to hit the deck running. Included in the travel pouch was a good selection of connectors for both the wall socket and gadget ends. Additionally the eXplorers are shipped pre-charged to 60 percent of capacity.
My unit came in an industrial grey and black colour scheme, although there is a choice of yellow, pink and blue also available. The powermonkey eXplorer looks a bit like a hand grip with an LCD screen built into it. There is a fixed cable on the discharging end and port inlet for the recharging end. Both have heavy duty, snug fitting rubber bungs to protect the ends when not in use. The unit looks and feels solid, water resistant and all connections are a very firm fit and hence is unlikely to "just fall out".
I identified the correct connector for my Nokia N-series phone, hooked it up to the eXplorer and pressed the button to start the charging. My Nokia immediately registered a power source and displays the "Charging" message and the LCD lights up blue for a brief period to indicate the battery capacity and level of charge. There was no significant difference in the time it takes to charge my phone using the eXplorer compared to the original wall charger. When the phone battery is full, the PowerMonkey automatically stops the charging and turns itself off.
On the topic of wall chargers, the eXplorer's wall charger has the easiest to interchange wall plugs I have ever come across. Unlike other "interchangeable" adapters, this one is a breeze to insert and remove, designed to easily adapt to your local power point configuration.
One thing I particularly like about the powermonkey eXplorer is the number of ways I could juggle the power ball and keep things alive. There is the obvious method of using the eXplorer itself. The rest of the methods which can be used to recharge the eXplorer can all be used to directly recharge the gadgets. All the connector tips will fit onto the solar-slave, the retractable USB cable and the universal mains charger.
The various methods of charging the Powermonkey have differing charging times. To fully charge via mains requires 3.5 hours, USB takes 6 hours and 6 hours of sunlight via the solar-slave will give one third charge to the Powermonkey (equivalent to one full mobile phone charge). During the charge cycle the indicator LED glows red, and when the eXplorer is fully charged the LED turns green.
The powermonkey eXplorer has safety features for short circuit, over charging and over discharging protections.
One feature I would like to see in the eXplorer is pass through charging. Despite having three methods of charging up the Powermonkey and your gadgets, without this feature it means it becomes a twostep process to recharge my gadgets. On the other hand, I could use the various options to charge the eXplorer and gadgets separately. I feel that it would be a nice tidy solution if I could daisy chain the process.
powermonkey eXplorer package includes
* 1 x powermonkey-eXplorer unit
* 1 x solar-slave
* 1 x universal mains charger which will work in over 150 countries and has interchangeable heads for UK, Europe, US & Australia
* Tips for: Nokia and mini Nokia, Motorola V66, Samsung E900, Siemens C25 and Sony Ericsson wide connector
* 1 x mini USB for Motorola RazR V series, Blackberrys and Bluetooth headsets
* 1 x USB for smart phones, PDAs and other devices
* 1 x iPod connector
* 1 x connector for Sony PSP and most digital cameras
* 1 x Black travel pouch
* 1 x Storage case
* 1 x User guide
Additional tips are available upon request, the PowerTraveller website has a "Monkey Nuts" section to help identify the tips that meet your needs.
* Battery capacity: 2200 mAh
* Input interface: DC 3.5 x 1.1 mm
* Input voltage: 5V, 600 mA
* Output interface: DC 3.5 x 1.1 mm
* Output voltage: 4.5 - 5.5 V
* Output current: 700 mA max
* Weight: 83 g
* Dimension: 90 x 45 x 38 mm
The Powermonkey provides power to digital cameras (as a supplementary battery) but does not recharge the main battery.
PowerTraveller, the manufacturer of powermonkey eXplorer supports the David Sherpherd Wildlife Foundation. Information about the Foundation is printed on the back of the User Guide. However there is no information as to whether any proceeds from the sales of the Powermonkey are contributed to the Foundation.
The eXplorer would rank as one of the most versatile product in its class, if not the best of breed at this time. There are so many methods of keeping the PowerMonkey and gadgets charged up, it caters for scenarios where you may or may not have access to a standard wall point or USB port. Whether you are business person who is frequently away from home office, a country hopper, or if you are like me and have the tendency to throw a rucksack on your back and go for a weekend hike, the powermonkey eXplorer is a great way to keep things powered.
The PowerMonkey pricing is approximately USD$127 for the powermonkey eXplorer in four colours. For readers in Australia, go to the powertraveller.com.au website or buy them at David Jones stores for AUD$160.
Stay tuned to PowerTraveller as rumour has it that their simian brood is going to expand with the Chimp and Gorilla.
As always DigitalReviews will brings the gadget news to our readers as it happens.