Thursday, June 18, 2015

Review: OLALA 3,000 mAh Power Pack

Our phones and tablets all use lithium polymer batteries which are flat, lightweight and power-dense, so it makes sense that there's a proliferation of chargers using these types of batteries. For the last few years, I've either built or bought power packs based on 18650 lithium-ion cells, which are also used inside laptop batteries, high end flashlights, and now even cars built by Tesla motors.

Battery packs built on 4x or 6x 3,400 mAh Panasonic cells have a ton of capacity but they are also very heavy. Also, most of the ones sold today don't use name brand cells and don't test anywhere near their capacity. How do you know which ones have Samsung or Panasonic cells in them and which ones have ultra-cheap knockoffs? Build your own I guess...

You can never have too many of these power packs, and I am always happy to accept them for review, with this one being provided courtesy of OLALA Gadgets of Amazon.



Product Description


This is a power pack capable of charging most devices that can use a USB charger. It advertises fairly basic specs of 3,000 mAh and with a charging rate of 1,000 mA. I cannot find anywhere where they state what the device itself recharges at, though I know it to be 500 mA.

Official Specs (From Amazon)


  • 1. Elegant design: This Y1-3000mAh Power Bank has elegant design which will be a good helper in your daily tech life.
  • 2. Ultrathin: As slim as 8.5mm and only weighs 73g, light and portable features enable you to carry it more convenient.
  • 3. Safer Casing Material: Encased in ABS+PC Material Housing.
  • 4. Conversion Rate:Above 85%.
  • 5. Compatibility: Compatible with 99% Digital Devices, widely compatible with Apple, Samsung, HTC Smart Phones and other 5V input devices.





Initial Impressions


Wow, it's light. This power pack uses a lithium-polymer cell, the same as the phones and tablets that it charges, and that's why these devices use "lipo" cells. But a cell about this size and weight isn't normally in the 3,000 mAh range. I'm pessimistically jaded about the way vendors state their capacities, but hey, I'll test it all the same.

Build Quality


The build quality is acceptable. If I press the center of the unit between my thumb and forefinger, then it makes a slight grinding/crunching sound. But other than that, it's sleek and light, and I don't see any areas of concern. 

Testing


Why am I normally pessimistic about testing? Because every power bank I've tested has an overstated capacity. Most of those "lipstick" style power banks advertise 2,000 mAh and are lucky to see half that.


Capacity


This power bank advertises 3,000 mAh and my tests showed it to be just shy of 2,000 mAh, which is acceptable given its size and weight. This should give most of a full charge to most smart phones, and closer to 2/3 of a charge for the power hungry phones. I don't understand why they just don't advertise the actual capacity.

Output


The unit advertises a 1,000 mA charging rate, which looks spot on.

Input

The unit advertises 1,000 mA but it only charges at 500 mA -- half that.

Usability


This model is sleek and light, but not overly rugged. I personally carry it in a tool pouch that use to hold my misc. stuff like a pocket knife, hand sanitizer, etc., that I throw in the truck when I go somewhere. It would also be ideal for a purse, or anything that keeps it from getting crunched.

My little "man purse" tool pouch has a bunch of small and lightweight tools, and this power pack seems to do well even though I treat the pouch roughly, so we'll see. I have another "power pouch" with rugged but heavier chargers and one of those lipstick chargers as a backup, so we'll also see if this one earns a spot in that pouch. 



Conclusions


This is a decent power pack, and it has a good power-to-weight ratio. It's also the perfect form factor. Now if I could get it at double or triple the capacity and with a lightweight aluminum case without making it too bulky or heavy, then it would be the perfect power pack.

I really like the idea of lithium-polymer based power packs if they could get the capacity up. I have a smart phone that with a battery about 2,000 mAh, so this unit does good when I'm out running errands and notice my phone is running low. 

For serious use, I have a DYI Runiovo power pack I built using 4 scavenged 18650 Sony cells I got out of a laptop battery that I never used, and they all test at 2,000 mAh. It's a little bulky though, and at about 4 full charges for my phone, it's totally overkill just for a day or night on the town. 

So if you like to travel light and want to carry most of a spare phone charge, this power pack is decent. And at 9 bucks a piece with free shipping, it's probably worth it having a few in the glove box, luggage, etc.

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