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Mini Review: Xtron, the compact USB battery pack that can power a 12-inch …

There s no shortage of external battery packs for iPhones, iPads and other USB-powered devices. With occasional exceptions, the majority have little to distinguish them. But thanks to the addition of a USB-C port, the Xtron can power the 12-inch MacBook as well as iPhones and iPads 12

The 13,400 mAh lithium-ion battery can add about seven hours life to the MacBook, recharge an iPad Air 2 twice (almost) or charge an iPhone 6s every night for a week. This isn t as much as the Vinsic Power Bank3 we reviewed earlier this year, but the Xtron is significantly more portable.

I m sometimes a little wary of crowdsourced projects, which sometimes take a lot longer than promised to make it into production, and occasionally fail to make it at all, but I think there s little danger of that this time. The prototype the company sent me is fully finished, and I d defy anyone to tell it apart from production units. It s clear that the company is prepared. Looks-wise, the Xtron is something that looks like it belongs in the company of Apple devices. The enclosure is ABS plastic rather than metal, but you wouldn t know it to look at it. The matte finish, available in a choice of black and white, looks and feels good. On the prototype, at least, the black is more of a very dark gray. The cap is silver, but does take on a bit of a gold hue in some lights.

Mini Review: Xtron, The Compact USB Battery Pack That Can Power A 12-inch ...

At around 9x9x2cm, it slips into most pockets, and is small enough to find a space in most bags. Weighing 180g, it s probably not something you re going to carry around all the time on a just in case basis, but it s not a burden for times when it is likely to be needed. It can charge a MacBook and iDevice simultaneously, and also offers pass-through charging, allowing you to charge it at the same time as it charges connected devices. It s charged via a MicroUSB socket.

The VIP early-bird price is ?69, which is obviously more expensive than lower-end devices with smaller capacities and a cheaper finish, but is in line with higher-end competitors. For MacBook use, you ll need to add ?10 for a matching USB-C-to-USB-C cable if you don t already have one.

The big question mark is whether the project will get funded: it s currently sitting at 27% funded with 10 days to go. But there s certainly no harm backing it.

Xtron is being crowdfunded on Indiegogo4, with the campaign running until the end of the month. If you don t need the MacBook charging capability, there are of course a great many USB battery packs available on Amazon5.

References

  1. ^ occasional exceptions (9to5mac.com)
  2. ^ 12-inch MacBook (9to5mac.com)
  3. ^ Vinsic Power Bank (9to5mac.com)
  4. ^ crowdfunded on Indiegogo (www.indiegogo.com)
  5. ^ available on Amazon (amzn.to)