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3.18.2012

Geektip How to tell if AA batteries are still good.

You need batteries for one of your many gadgets…you stare into the abyss of the junk drawer and wonder which of the Alkaline and rechargeable AA’s are still good/charged up.  If only you had a battery tester…or a multimeter handy, that would help.  But you don’t.

Well, if you wave a Nintendo Wii, you might just have one. 

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Throw those batteries in the Wii remote and flip it over.   When you tap the A button there is a brief flash on the lights.  1-4 lights.  This is telling you the charge in the batteries in 25% increments.  Once the remote connects to your Wii the light changes to indicate your player number, so you have to watch before it changes.

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Looks like these were full charged when I put ‘em away.

 

3.16.2012

PowerGen Mobile Juice Pack Ultra Review

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It’s that time of year…the frantic month before the Penny Arcade Expo East.  Time to start packing your PAX bag, find your chargers, mobile devices, memory cards, and portable games.  Last year at PAX we ran our iPhone batteries dead several times over.  It’s a geeky gathering and everyone there has a tendency to tweet, photograph, surf, and otherwise play around with our phones during 3 very long days of the convention.  Last year my wife and I came prepared with a backup battery.  It was a Griffin TuneJuice.

It’s a handy little battery pack.  It takes 3 AAA batteries & puts out enough USB power to top off an iPhone.  I think most of the time I could usually get back to full from 20 or 30% on an 3GS using it.  It eats through your charged batteries fast, and recharging Lithium-Ion cells in your hotel room isn’t a very fast process.  At the end of the day we’d usually stick one of the phones in the room on a charger while we used the TuneJuice to nurse the other phone during concerts or dinner.
This year I’m planning ahead and we’re going to carry a little better solution.  I picked up a PowerGen Mobile Juice Pack Ultra based on Amazon feedback.  I also considered the Mophie Powerstation brick, but decided to give the PowerGen a shot due to the much lower price.
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The PowerGen battery arrived yesterday, so I gave it a charge (it came 2/3 full) which took a couple of hours. The packaging says it takes 5-6 hours to fill the pack up from empty and that it can fill an iPhone in about 1.5 hours. Included in the package are a wide array of phone and device adapters, covering most of the major devices including iPhone, iPod, iPad 30-pin dock connector, all flavors of USB, and 2 USB cable pigtails to use with the adapters.
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Pushing the button on the pack displays the battery level lights, double tapping turns on the LED flashlight.  The pack shuts off charging after 6 seconds if no device is connected. IMG_4058
Case quality, fit, and finish are all good.  It’s shiny, and gets smudged easily, but who cares, it’s going in your laptop bag and you know it.  It charges via a micro USB port on the side.  The included charger is a AC to USB wall plug capable of charging the pack at 1W / 1000mA (so you can probably use it as a spare iPad charger) Charging via computer USB would take longer because of the lower Amperage on most computer USB ports.
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To charge a device, you just assemble the cable you need using one of the two different length USB pigtails and one of the ends, or use your existing device cable with a USB A connector on it.  Plug in the device and tap the “home” button.
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JuicePack iPad test
To sum up you get about 55% of an iPad charge over the course of 3 to 3.5 hours. The reviews and packaging say you should be able to get about 2 iPhone 4/4S charges out of it, and after running it out on the iPad I believe it. This pack does output the full 1000mA that iPads and other hungry devices want, so you can charge and use it at the same time. It’s small enough to keep in a pocket.  I test charged my wife’s iPhone 4S up from 9% to 95% in 1h 45min, it only lowered the battery pack gauge to 3 lights / 75%.
The plan is to take this little guy with us this year.  We should be able to top off both phones from one charge, and it charges fast enough to fill up overnight at the hotel room.  I also picked up DS and 3DS USB charge cables so I can charge them if needed. (The 3DS is a battery hog and using standby mode & street pass all day will probably run the battery down)  I tested charging these as well and it worked fine.
If I needed to charge faster I’d probably look into the Mophie pack. It has higher amperage and should work faster.