CES is coming up, and this year we will have the biggest Gear Diary team covering the event ever. Even though CES is more than two months off, it isn’t too early to start thinking about the ins and outs of the week. As we have mentioned previously, one of the biggest challenges at CES is keeping cameras, phones and video recorders charged and usable. The days are long and the tools we use to cover CES are in use from early morning until late at night. Battery cases and external batteries help a great deal but, this year, we’ll have yet another way to keep our devices charged thanks to.
PowerBags come in a variety of styles ranging from backpacks to messenger bags, and each has a 6000mAh battery and charging cables built right into the bag itself. At prices that start at just $139.99, the bags aren’t much more than a large external battery would cost on its own, but these come with cables and a bag. The company was kind enough to send both a backpack and messenger for us to review. We’ll take a look at each in the next few days and then, after Kevin and I both use them at CES, we’ll revisit the bags and look at how they do under the most “grueling” of techie conditions.
Want to charge your favorite device while you’re on the go? We got the message. Charge the average smartphone twice with the battery system inside the Powerbag™ Messenger. Designed exclusively by fūl.
Removable, lightweight rechargeable
3000mAh6000mAh battery: The built-in battery system charges the average smartphone twice and includes Apple, Micro-USB and Mini-USB connectors and a USB port. Charge literally hundreds of devices including smartphones, eReaders and many tablets. Tablets must be charged with their own USB cable through Powerbag’s on-board USB port.
External one-touch battery level indication and power button: The logo button turns Powerbag on or off when you press and hold for 2 seconds. Or press the logo button once quickly to see how much power you have left.
Water-resistant AC adapter charging port: When it’s time to recharge Powerbag simply connect the included AC adapter and plug it into a wall outlet.
Detachable, adjustable shoulder strap: Wear the Messenger across your body with the included shoulder strap, or remove it completely for more of a briefcase look.
Device Compatibility: Powerbag is able to charge almost any USB-powered device including most smartphones and many tablets. AC powered devices such as laptops and some tablets are not supported. The following tablets are compatible: Amazon Kindle™ (All generations), Barnes & Noble NOOK™, Samsung Galaxy Tab™ (The Galaxy Tab requires a unique USB power source to charge at full speed. Powerbag will supply only 500mA (similar to computer charging) to your tablet. During this time, the Galaxy Tab may state that it is not charging, when in fact it really is.)
The following Apple® products are compatible: iPad® and iPad 2, iPod touch® (1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation), iPhone® 4, iPhone® 3GS, iPhone® 3G, iPhone®, *iPod nano® and iPad® may be charged with their own USB cable through Powerbag’s on-board USB port.
I wouldn’t say that this is the best looking bag I’ve seen. In fact, I don’t particularly love the way it looks. At the same time, from a usability perspective, it is more than a bit awesome. The PowerBag Messenger has a huge amount of padding, has tons of pockets and was clearly designed by somebody who loves their gadgets. It is true, this bag was built by someone who really thought through how gadget people actually use their bags. Add in the fact that the messenger has enough “always accessible” pockets on the outside but still has more than enough secure pockets on the inside, and you have a bag you will actually find useful.
The back portion of the bag — the part that would sit on your hip when using it as a messenger bag — has even more padding than the front. It also has a few pockets for even more “external” storage. Two strategically placed D-Rings are perfect for using the included strap to secure the bag around your waist so it doesn’t flop around as you move about.
Interior dimensions of compartments in bag:
Laptop- (Holds up to a 16″ laptop) 17″ x 11″ x 1″
Tablet- (It has a dedicated tablet compartment) 8.5″ x 11″ x .5″
Battery: 6000mAh Lithium Polymer, weight: 0.2 lbs.
Input: 12VDC, 1.2A
Micro-USB, Mini-USB Output: 5VDC, 800mA combined
Apple Connector Output: 5VDC, 1A
USB Output: 5VDC, 1-2.1A
AC wall adapter
On-board battery system: Removable Powerbag
3000mAh battery; built in Apple, Micro- and Mini-USB connectors and USB port
In this picture you get a sense of just how well built this bag is. It is “busy”. When you put the zippers, straps, and fluted channels all together there is a tremendous amount going on. The result, however, is a level of overall functionality that is awesome.
This is the upper corner of the “flap” that covers the entire front of the bag. In just one example of how usable this messenger is, the zipper opens to reveal a pocket that is just large enough to hold a phone or a wallet. That means you have a key item or two always within reach but always secure behind a zipper.
Here is a quick peek at this particular pocket with the zipper open. Another nice touch you will notice is that the interior portion of the pocket has light-colored material. That makes it easy for you to find items that are stored inside.
At first, I thought you had to remove the battery each time you wanted to charge it. I guess that’s what I deserve for not having read through all instructions before digging into the back.
Turns out there is a charging port on the side. That means you can charge the bag on the go without having to dig around inside of it. In addition, it has a cap so dust won’t get inside. Yet again this reflects the smart design of this bag.
Raising the flap that covers the entire front of the bag reveals three pockets and the button for powering the bag on and off.
A neat little feature is the fact that the power button, hidden as part of the interior logo medallion, when pressed reveals a series of lights that shine through the bag itself and indicate how much charge you have. Four lights means hundred percent power, trees like 75% power et cetera.
One of the two upper pockets contain a charging cord for an iOS device.
The other has a cable for charging a device that takes a mini/microUSB. The lower triangular pocket is simply a pocket but does not add to be charging abilities of the bag itself.
Another nice feature of the bag is the fact that in addition to the iOS dock connector and micro/miniUSB plugs, there is a fourth type of charger included – a USB port that sits inside the bag next to the large capacity battery.
The interior of the bag has a large area for holding assorted items, a slightly padded area toward the back that is large enough for a 15″ laptop, and a small area in front that houses the battery and the USB charging port.
It is difficult to see, but this is the battery when it is ticked inside the back of the bag and in position.
And this is the 6000 mA hour battery when it is removed from the bag.
Speaking of the battery, it is worth noting that the initial PowerBag documents reflect a small capacity battery of 3000mAh. The shipping bag actually has a 6000mAh battery. That’s a huge difference… and a welcome one.
Finally, this is the cradle the battery sits inside when positioned in the bag.
As I noted at the beginning of this review, I’m not a huge fan of the bag’s look. There’s a lot going on and it is a fairly bulky messenger bag. I usually like something that is a bit more refined and less bulky. That noted, I found it growing on my as I used it during the review period. In addition, I actually see myself using this bag quite a bit over the next few months, as I will be doing some traveling for vacation in December before heading to CES in January.
The PowerBag Messenger is well-organized; it does a great job of protecting the items inside, and it has a 6000 mA hour battery that will help keep everything going despite seeing a good bit of use. It is a really neat concept, and I’m looking forward to seeing more and more styles.
With battery technology not keeping pace with the speed and functionality of our devices, not to mention our growing reliance on them, the PowerBag is an idea whose time has come! For under $140 you get a bag and a battery; that strikes me as a pretty good deal.
We will be looking at the backpack version of the line in the next review, and both will be employed by the Gear Diary Team at CES. You can find details and order yours.
What I Like: 6000mAh battery!; Designed to charge any and all mobile devices thanks to included cabling; Well-built bag; Many pockets; Good design
What Needs Improvement: Fairly heavy before you put anything inside; Not the most “refined” look we have seen