Go off grid but not offline

That nice Mr Briggs has been encouraging me to post some stuff about hardware.

As it happens I’ve been trying out a new piece of ultra-modern hi-tech digital equipment.

No it’s not a MacBook Air, ChromeBook or even one of them new Google tablets.

It is… drum roll… The PowerMonkey Extreme.

Which is basically a back-up battery.

Photo of a Power Monkey battery charging

Bear with me.

The use case for this bit of kit is for situations when you find yourself some distance from a power supply and need to charge your device.

Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: how often does that happen in this modern age? And the answer is: surprisingly often. For example on a train journey from Hereford to Sunderland (it happens) you will be six hours without an onboard power supply and because of the patchy mobile signals your tablet and mobile phone will be exhausting themselves screaming at non-existent cell stations. Even a day in London can be frustrating when every Starbucks you pop into is full of Apple-heads sucking lattes and hogging the 240volts.

Of course other backup power supplies are available. The Power Monkey was attractive because it is capable of delivering the 5v 2.1 Amps necessary to charge an iPad or Galaxy Tab. The Extreme bit seems to refer to its general resilience, waterproofness and separate solar panels.

The battery itself is pleasingly compact. It can be charged from the mains. This takes a reassuringly long time. It seems to hold two & a bit charges for my tablet and a large number of charges for my LG mobile. It can charge both devices simultaneously. It charges around as fast as the mains.

I’ve tested the device completely off grid (a week in a sailing boat and camping in the rain).

A stream leads to a misty estuary

The solar panels are slow to charge in the rain and I did have to ration my device use to conserve battery. That said it beats all other options and will now join my short list of never travel without items.

I’ve also used it on a variety of day trips. Such as a 13hr visit to London yesterday. When I start a meeting I can pop my devices on charge and use them with confidence in the gaps. The solar panels are less useful while travelling on the underground of course.

It seems to me that it would also be a useful piece of resilience kit for public information officers and other people who might want to keep their mobile devices working in a power failure or while temporarily off-grid.

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Dave Briggs

I'm an experienced senior manager in digital and ICT, looking for interim engagements to modernise technology teams to help organisations transform.