This is my first gadget review and I was nervous heading into it. I wanted to turn it in without too much wait, but I also wanted to get enough time with the product to really get a feel for the pros and cons. I was really looking forward to this showing up at my house because I am an avid iPad user and this seemed like a great fit into my current routine without adding too much weight to my messenger bag. (God, how overly hipster did that sound? Sorry.)
Anyway, on to the product. This is the new PowerBinder from Powerstick.com. As you can see from the image it has a large solar panel on the front cover, which gathers energy from the sun and indoor lighting using “patented trickle charge technology.” The power captured by the panel goes into a high-capacity lithium polymer battery which holds a charge of 5,300 mAh (no idea what that is but they say it will charge most smartphones 2.5 times.)
There is a handy monitor on the front of the battery visibile with the binder fully closed. The binder has only one button (how very Apple); one tap and you see how much energy the battery is currently storing and how much light it is trying to feed off. The iPad hold tabs on the inside are extremely secure, so very little worry of your precious tablet falling out. Two USB ports and a micro-USB port are installed in the battery. The dual USB ports can be used to charge your iPad and iPhone at the same time, while the micro-USB port can be used to charge the PowerBinder in areas where sunlight is scarce.
One last nice feature is the binder’s adjustable stand. A small magnetic strip holds the iPad against the inside of the binder, but once you disconnect it, you can place the viewing angle anywhere along the inside edge of the other side. It provides a few more options than other iPad stands which either have two or even one fixed position.
It might seem like a simple thing, but one of my favorite parts of this product is the notepad slid into the pocket opposite the iPad. I’m not a big fan of taking notes at meetings and such on the iPad yet, so a handwriting pad is very useful and I don’t feel like I’m carrying two or more items into every meeting. The extra battery life is definitely handy, but my work/home life as it is right now I am never far from an outlet. This would be much more useful for business travelers and train commuters who find themselves out of the office for long periods.
The main selling point of the PowerBinder is the solar charger on the front, which powers up very well in direct sunlight, but not so much in low light situations. A small setback to say the least for an otherwise incredibly useful product.