One of most laptop’s main limitations is their battery life, which can usually only be relied upon for a few hours. This hindrance is never more evident that when traveling, because finding a place to recharge in airports and train stations can be a major challenge. On January 1, 2008, carrying extended batteries will become a little bit trickier when traveling by plane, but it can still be done as long as the extra battery is packed in your carry-on luggage (versus in your checked luggage) and it is under a certain size.
Copied verbatim from the US Government’s Safe Travel site:
The following quantity limits apply to both your spare and installed batteries. The limits are expressed in grams of “equivalent lithium content.” 8 grams of equivalent lithium content is approximately 100 watt-hours. 25 grams is approximately 300 watt-hours.
Debating the effectiveness of the new rules is a discussion best left for another day, but in the meantime the Proporta Portable Laptop Battery can be combined with other electronic devices carried while keeping the owner in compliance with these new rules (it holds 66.6Wh). Let’s see if carrying one would be worth the bother…
Included in the package are the 6000mAh portable laptop battery, seven input connector tips, eight output connector tips, one output cable, and a user manual. What’s not included is any kind of bag or sleeve to store everything in; this feels like a glaring omission. I have compensated by carrying the necessary tips for my laptop and the output cable (shown laying on the battery) in the smallest Tom Bihn Organizer Pouch – which works perfectly.
You can see a full compatibility list by clicking here.
The top of the battery is the business end, and it is where you will find, from left to right: the USB Out port, the Power Out port, the slider to choose between 16V and 19V, and the Power In port…
…all of which are conveniently labeled on the underside; notice that there are also four rubber feel to keep the battery from sliding.
The battery level indicator may look slightly familiar to those of you who have a Mac Book Pro. Mitchell informed me that the battery appears to have borrowed a few design points – which is not necessarily a bad thing, but maybe it is considering the glaring omission of Mac support.
Here is the green LED indicator that glows when the battery is fully charged, it will glow red once when the battery is charging but not yet full; the five LEDs behind it will glow to indicate the various stages of charge or discharge, as the case may be.
According to the online manual:
The Portable Laptop Battery uses 5 LEDs to indicate the battery’s charge levels. If you wish to know the status of the battery’s power when it is being charged, or charging your laptop, press the indicator button and the number of LEDs lit will display the level of charge the battery currently holds. If you wish to know the status of the battery’s power when it is not in use, press the indicator button and this will display the rest power (RP) of the battery, details of indicator status are as follows (rest power is RP):
0% – 20% – 1 LED
20% – 40% – 2 LEDs
40% – 60% – 3 LEDs
60% – 80% – 4 LEDs
80% – 100% – 5 LEDs
If the first LED begins to blink, this will indicate that the power is less than 10% and may not be able to continue to power some devices. If you are charging your laptop at this time, please save all work and unplug the battery.
As you can see, this battery is fully charged; it is currently plugged in and the LED indicators were triggered by pressing the round silver button.
The laptop’s charger is used to directly charge the laptop battery, as well. In order to do this, you have to match the “female part of the input tip to the laptop’s original AC adapter. Once connected, insert the male part of [that] tip into the battery’s IN port and turn on the AC adapter.”
What this basically means is there are two connectors and an adapter dongle that you need to keep handy for charging the battery, and then for charging the laptop. The first connector is the 90 degree angle jobby (shown below) which attaches to the laptop’s AC charger, and which then plugs directly into the external battery.
Once the laptop battery has been fully charged, which can take up to 5 hours depending upon how depleted it was, it can be used to charge either your laptop or various other devices – within reason.
Why within reason? Well, here’s the thing: This battery is 6000mAh which sounds generous enough, but depending upon the size of your laptop’s battery this may or may not be enough to provide a full charge for the laptop much less other devices. For instance, if you have a UMPC with a 2500 mAh battery, this battery should give you two full charges or one full charge and enough juice left for your iPhone and another device. But if you have a larger laptop, with a 7500mAh battery (for instance), you’ll never get a full charge for obvious reasons, and once the battery has been used on your laptop it will not be able to charge anything else.
I think it would be lovely if this battery was also available in even larger mAh sizes; but as it is, it’s a great mid-size external battery. It is a definite jump in size from all those little external batteries that cater to mobile devices, and which generally have 2000mAh tops. But it is not quite as large as some of the hefty external battery solutions needed for larger, more power-hungry laptops. Heck, it’s not even as large as the extended Mugen battery Jenneth got for her Asus R2H, but it is a good size for those who don’t want to carry a veritable brick.
The way you use the portable battery to charge the laptop, is by first finding the correct tip which fits; using the manual provided in the kit (or the online compatibility list if you lost the paper version), you’ll also need to determine whether the battery’s switch should be set to 16V or 19V. The laptop I use with this battery is the HP TX1327CL, which uses the L51 adapter to charge the battery and the L01D tip to charge the laptop from the battery; my laptop is not specifically mentioned in the compatibility list, but I took a cue from Mitchell’s BatteryGeek 130Wh review’s explanation of when to use 16V versus 19V*, and I set the switch to 16V. Everything seems to be working and charging perfectly so far.
Glancing at Mitchell’s review did bring up one point of concern, however. The BatteryGeek Laptop Battery is twice the watt hours of the Proporta (130Wh vs 66.6Wh), it includes its own AC charging cable, a carrying case, a Mac charging cable is available (upon request), it is slightly smaller that then Proporta, and it includes more adapter tips for the same price. On the flip side: it does not have a USB charging port for your 5V devices, and in comparison it is butt ugly. There…I said it. If you want to be able to charge 5V devices with the BatteryGeek 130Wh, you’ll have to bump up to their Portable Power Station (PPS130), like Jenneth got, which retails for $299.99.
*• 16V – 15V, 16V, 16.5V
*• 19V – 18V, 18.5V, 19V, 19.5V, 20V, 20.5V, 21V
When charging smaller, 5V electronics from the USB port, there is just one thing to remember: Hooking the device up to the battery will not automatically start the charging process – you must click the round button on the battery. Proporta mentions that the “USB port acts as an output charging port only. The battery cannot be charged via USB cable.” Fair enough.
According to the Proporta site, two devices which can’t be charged from the battery are the Nokia N95 and the Microsoft Zune. They are listed as “not compatible with the Portable Laptop Battery,” which in the case of the N95 is understandable since it requires a ridiculous proprietary (non-USB) charger. In the case of the Zune, the reason is not so clear…I mean, it uses a USB cable to charge, so why wouldn’t the battery work? Obviously I had to give it a try, and guess what? It did work. My Zune showed as charging, the battery was topped off, and my device did not blow up…so I am not sure what the warning was all about.
Overall my experience with the Proporta Laptop Battery was very positive: it is large enough to charge my laptop, it can charge my Zune, my iPhone, my iPod nano, my HTC Mogul…pretty much everything and anything I carry. Good thing I am not carrying the N95 at the moment, and I don’t own a Mac.
If you have been looking for an external battery solution that will allow you to travel without worrying about where and when you’ll be able to recharge, the Proporta Laptop Battery may be exactly what you need. I think it is definitely worth the extra pound of weight in my gear bag, but the price may give you pause when it’s compared head to head with other external batteries.
The Proporta Portable Laptop Battery is available directly from the manufacturer.
What I Like: Beautiful and slim design: Easy to operate; Handles lots of laptop models; Can charge 5V devices via the USB charging option; Complies with new airline battery regulations – as long as you don’t try to check it
What Needs Improvement: Why doesn’t it work with Mac? Release the tip!; No carrying case; It is expensive when compared to other companies’ external battery packages