FatCat 4200

A lesson learned from previous convention going has been: “be prepared with power”.  I’m not talking lightening from above or some Kryptonian sun-imbued super strength, I’m talking about keeping my phone charged.  I happen to have an iPhone but it applies to all the smartphones.  I’m so heavily dependent on mine I go through 90% of a battery charge in about 3 hours.  That’s if I’m not doing any editing or rendering.

As you walk around CES, or arguably any major convention, you’ll see people hanging out along the walls trying to plug in and get some of that precious juice we call electricity.  At the 2013 CES, I saw this all the time. Special press rooms were created so people could connect and recharge, physically and electronically.  You could feed the body some food and drink, feed the devices some power and post your findings and your musings to the web.  There were power kiosks, regular power plugs, cases with batteries, portable batteries with USB plugs and all manner of other recharging methods.

I personally was equipped with no less than 3 portable batteries plus AC outlet plugs and a short extension cord.  My favorite of all these was the Fatcat mPower PowerBar 4200mAh Travel charger.  Before I left for CES, this nice looking external battery pack came in the mail.  I charged it up and brought it with me.  I wasn’t totally sure if it would work or not since I hadn’t really put it through its paces but it did not let me down.

PowerBar 4200 and the accessories

PowerBar 4200 and the accessories

It looks good (see the below photos) and performs very well.  It’s like having my iPhone 4S plugged in to the wall – and by that I mean it charges quickly.  What’s really cool about this charger is that it’s not device specific.  There’s a usb port on the side where you plug in your charging cords whether they be for your iPhone, your phablet, your android or your Bluetooth speaker. I could charge just about any phone with it and it comes with a cord and some adapters that will link it to most of the devices out there today.  It does not come with an iPhone 5 adapter in the pack but if you have your iPhone 5 usb cable, you should be good.

In my experience after taking my iPhone 4S down to about 10-15%, I get about 2 full charges from the 4200.  I have not experimented with the iPad to see if it’ll charge fully but the iPad does give the little lightning bolt (indicating that it’s getting power).  I was a little surprised about this since the normal iPad chargers (appls) generate 2.1A and this charger generates 700mA – I’m no electrical but I think that’s about a third of the 2.1A.  So, I would have expected the iPad to tell me that charging was not supported or some kind of similar error message.  It didn’t.  At 700mA,  I would think the charging time would be LONG so, I don’t recommend it at this point.

After using it several times, the only issue I had was when using the supplied cords, I’d lose “connection” periodically.  The phone would act as if it were unplugged then it would act as if it were plugged in again immediately after.  This would go on for a few minutes.  It never happened when using my own cables.  I have to think this is a problem with the connections in the cords and not the batteries (based on my experience).

Determining how much power is left is very easy. The only button on the device briefly activates one to 4 led indicators.  The number of lights is determined by how much power is left in the battery – 4 lights means full power (so each light is roughly 25%). After I let it sit for a couple days, usually the 4th light goes off but it still seems to be close to full power.  If I plug it in, the 4th light comes back on after only a few minutes so I assume that last one I just very sensitive.

Tech Specs:

  • Battery: 4,200 mAh Lithium Polymer
  • Input voltage: 5.0 to 5.5V
  • Output voltage: DC 5.5 +- 0.2V
  • Maximum output current: 700mA
  • Maximum input current: 800mA
  • Time required to charge Card: 4-7 hours (depending on charging current).
  • Cycle life: Up to 500 times.
  • Dimensions: 4” x 2.4” x .5”
  • Weight: 4 oz

At a retail price of $79.95, the fatcat 4200 is in the same pricing ballpark as the some of the main competition (mophie) and looks just as good, if not better.  They offer a wide range of colors and multiple connectivity options.  The web site indicates a 2 year warranty (better than Mophie) and claims to work for 500 full charges.  I’d give this product a 4.5 out of 5 as the only issue was with the supplied cord and that wasn’t even a big deal.  The bottom line is it’s a great product at a competitive price that delivers on its promises.  Good stuff.

LEDs telling me I have 75%+/- power.

LEDs telling me I have 75%+/- power.

Plug in your USB here.

Plug in your USB here.

Charge the PowerBar here.

Charge the PowerBar here.