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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Electrovaya Power Pad External Battery

The main limitations of a laptop based office/lifestyle is battery life.

Manufacturers advertise battery life spans of 3, 4, and 5 hours or more. However what they don't tell you is these times have very very little to do with real use conditions. Now I imagine there are people who use their computers without wifi or a Verizon card constantly on. They also don't run multiple applications like iTunes, Firefox, and Photoshop all day kicking the CPU utilization up fairly high. I don't know any of these people but I'm sure they exist.

I have a Toshiba Tecra M7 tablet PC, according to reviews I should be getting 3 hours of laptop battery life. In reality I usually get about 90 to 120 minutes. If I dim the brightness down and turn off both cards I can eek out almost to 180 minutes. The design of my laptop doesn't give me the flexibility of a high capacity battery. So while I'm not tied to desk, I am tied to a power outlet.

A few weeks ago while reading a Web Worker Daily blog post I came across the Electrovaya Power Pad which in reality is an external laptop battery. They have several different models the Power Pad 95, Power Pad 130, Power Pad 160 and Power Pad 300. The real difference is the estimated battery life of the units. This effects the size and color and case. I went with the Power Pad 95 which comes in a ridiculous silly looking baby boy powder blue casing. When you order this unit you will need to specify your laptop model so you get the proper connections, but more about that later.

Checking out the directions, which were a little rough on the translation, the correct way to use the unit is to chain it in between the laptop power cord and laptop. So your laptop power cord connects to the Electrovaya power cord. The Electrovaya power cord splits with one end connecting to the power pad and one end connecting into your laptop. I mentioned above that you needed to specify your laptop model when ordering, the Electrovaya power cord has interchangeable tips so it's compatible with a wide variety of laptops. When you are in "charging" mode the display will give you a charging message with a % of charge. When you are in "discharge" mode they recommend you use the Electrovaya first draining it completely before switching to your laptop battery, instead of waiting for your laptop battery to run out before connecting power pad. When the unit gets down to under 10% the LED display starts flashing, giving you some warning it's going to run out.

Enough theory let's talk about actual usage. Before leaving for Pubcon I had some presentations to finish, some proposals to get out the door, and some client deliverables. I was running Firefox, iTunes, PowerPoint and Photoshop, on wifi. Using a stopwatch I timed my battery life and got 1:22 before the critical battery warning message came up. After a full overnight recharge I tried the Electrovaya unit with the laptop battery and got 4:55 before the critical battery warning came on. So subtracting my original 1:22 of laptop battery the Electrovaya gave me an additional 3:35 of life top use.

So what did I like even though I got the basic unit and it had a retail price of $200 I got almost 5 hours of non tethered power, which for me is totally worth it. The power meter was reasonably accurate, and you can fully charge the unit in about 4 hours.

What didn't I like, for one the color the baby blue color, I'm going to end up snickering it up like a web 2.0 silicon valley start up veteran. The display gives a digital readout of charge. Once you get over 90% it seems a bit hit or miss getting it up to 100% no matter how long you leave it plugged in.

More of an annoyance than a fault was my experience with customer service. When my initial unit arrived they tips were not the right size. I sent off an email to customer service. The new tips arrived 3 days later but there was no email letting me know it was coming or they got it. So A+ for doing me the right thing D- for not letting me know what they were doing. On the consumer end there's no difference from an email languishing unanswered in an unchecked email inbox or and email that was taken care of just not responded to.

If you are the kind of person who is looking for longer laptop usage without being tethered to an outlet it's a product I can recommend. While it's not cheap if you get a more productivity or billable hours out of those extra hours it should definitely pay for itself in short order.

For more details check


The previous review was not compensated or paid for in any way. To be clear I paid the full price on my own credit card.

About the Author:
Michael Gray is SEO specialist and publishes a Search Engine Industry blog at He has over 10 years experience in website development and internet marketing, helping both small and large companies increase their search engine visibility, traffic, and sales. Michael is a current member of Internet Marketing of New York ( and a guest speaker on Webmaster Radio. He is also an editor for the popular search engine new website

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