Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Posted by Jason Dunn in "HARDWARE" @ 08:00 AM
Room For Improvement
Like any product I review, however, I think the N-Charge could be improved in some small ways. First, it lacks any sort of secondary charging port. There is a port on the bottom that's supposed to be used for recharging cell phones, but it requires special cables with a proprietary connector. What the N-Charge really needs is to ditch this custom power, then add one (or even two) USB ports for charging. Almost every small electronic device today can be recharged from a USB port, so for the N-Charge to not have one is senseless. When I was traveling on the plane or sitting in an airport, there were numerous times I needed to recharge portable video/audio players, and it wasn't possible or convenient for me to use the ports on my laptop to do so. My laptop only powers the USB port in standby mode, not when it's turned off, which is a hassle – I would have greatly preferred to use the N-Charge as a charging hub for my USB devices.
The port on top, and the custom connectors, are also a bit problematic. I was told that in order to minimize standby battery drain on the N-Charge, I shouldn't leave the dongle connected to the port. Fair enough – but that leaves the gold connectors exposed when traveling, and when I returned from Thailand one of them was bent from being carried in my bag. That makes me fear for the long-term durability of the product, though it could be solved easily with the inclusion of a plastic dummy cover for protection. The fact that the cable ends aren't interchangeable (like the iGo Juice) is also frustrating – the N-Charge would be much more useful if it came with six of the most popular connectors and the user could configure it however they wanted.
As you can tell, I really enjoyed using this product. I even find myself using it around my house – it's easier to carry the N-Charge upstairs and use it to recharge my laptop over the weekend several times than to get out my iGo Juice charger and string it to an AC plug. If Valence can add a USB port or two for charging other devices – and bundle a dummy plastic cover for the power port – they'd have a perfect product in my eyes (even if they kept the custom cables). As it stands now, I'd still heartily recommend it to any laptop owner that just never seems to get quite enough power out of their laptop battery.
Jason Dunn owns and operates Thoughts Media Inc., a company dedicated to creating the best in online communities. He enjoys mobile devices, digital media content creation/editing, and pretty much all technology. He lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada with his lovely wife, and his sometimes obedient dog. He's all about the extended battery life.