Review: Kensington PowerLift Back-Up Battery, Dock and Stand

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One of the small, but impressive, accessories we say at CES was the Kensington PowerLift Back-Up Battery, Dock and Stand. The diminutive accessory serves a dual purpose by letting you use your iPhone (or iPod touch) hands free AND giving you just enough extra battery power to help you avoid running out of juice mid-day.

Here’s a look…

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From Kensington:

Converts for in-hand use
The Kensington PowerLift™ Back-Up Battery, Dock and Stand gives your iPhone hours of extra power, converts for in-hand use and offers a hands-free stand. The 1200 mAh battery pack provides rapid charging while the kickstand flips open to let you enjoy FaceTime chats and videos with no hands or fear of running out of power.

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Features:

Power dock with kickstand lets you watch videos and enjoy FaceTime chats hands-free.

1200 mAh delivers the charge you need for extending music, video and
FaceTime chats.

Built-in dock connector for iPhone and USB cable so there are no parts to lose and protected when stored — everything you need is built right in.

Two position charging: In-hand use for phone conversations and docking for charge, sync and FaceTime

Works with most cases

LED battery indicator light tells you how much power you have left

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Specifications:

Battery chemistry: Lithium-ion polymer

Input: 5V DC, 500mA, Output: 5V DC, 1000mA

Capacity: 4.4Wh (Watt-hours)/1200mAh

Dimensions: 2.5″ (L) x 2.3″ (W) x 0.7″ (D), Weight: 1.76oz/50g

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As you can see, the PowerLift is small. It is half the size of the iPhone and about as thick. While it looks like it is made from plastic and metal it is actually entirely made of plastic. Still, it feels quite solid and reliable.

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The silver-colored outer portion “rings” the black part and flips down. It opens easily but offers enough resistance that it will remain in place once positioned.

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Once opened you flip the stand over so that the black portion is sitting on the horizontal surface you are using and flip around the iPhone dock connector so that it is in an almost vertical position.

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From there it is as simple as sticking your iPhone on it.

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The stand holds the iPhone or touch at the perfect angle for viewing the screen or using Facetime.

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Thankfully Kensington designed the dock connector portion in such a manner that you can use the PowerLift stand with just about any iPhone case that leaves the dock port open and accessible. While at CES Judie tried it with her iPhone in the metal Xcel Case, and it worked just fine.

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The result is that, as a stand, it is a great little accessory. It is small, compact, well designed and quite useful. As a stand along, however, I can’t see justifying the nearly $50 price. Thankfully it is not simply a stand…

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No, the PowerLift is also a backup battery. It has a built-in USB cable so you can charge it from any computer and has a four LED light indicator so you can check how much of a charge remains.

With just 1200 mAh it isn’t the most powerful backup battery on the market but if you are using it with an iPhone 4 it will add up to 20 hours of music, 5 hours of video, 3.5 hours of talk, or 1.5 hours of FaceTime. That’s a pretty good deal.

So as a stand the PowerLift works well. As a backup battery it works well also. Put them together, however, and they are a rather nice combination since the PowerLift effectively “tops off” your iPhone 4 while you use it. That makes it a smart traveling companion and that is exactly what it will be when the review unit heads to Barcelona with Judie in a few weeks.

Here’s a video of it in action…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2hBqRE87rRI&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

The Kensington PowerLift™ Back-Up Battery, Dock and Stand is available for pre-order on the Kensington web site.

MSRP: $49.99

What I Like: Small, provides good, usable stand; usable with a host of different cases; doubles as a backup or top-off battery

What Needs Improvement: Relatively small capacity battery

About the Author

Dan Cohen
Having a father who was heavily involved in early laser and fiber-optical research, Dan grew up surrounded by technology and gadgets. Dan’s father brought home one of the very first video games when he was young and Dan remembers seeing a “pre-release” touchtone phone. (When he asked his father what the “#” and “*” buttons were his dad said, “Some day, far in the future, we’ll have some use for them.”) Technology seemed to be in Dan’s blood but at some point he took a different path and ended up in the clergy. His passion for technology and gadgets never left him.

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