- Review Price: £39.99
The problem with handheld devices is that they have an annoying habit of running out of juice at the most inopportune moments. There’s nothing worse than being stuck on a train or a plane with a dead MP3 player or handheld console, and if you’re embarking on a long haul flight that scenario is often unavoidable. If only there was some way of recharging your device, while continuing to use it – well actually there is.
The ReCharge4 is a portable battery unit that can plug into your handheld device and recharge it on the fly. You will also be able to continue using your handheld device while it’s being recharged, so you never have to sit around twiddling your thumbs on those long journeys. And as the name suggests, you’ll get four full recharges from the ReCharge4, before the device itself has to be plugged into the mains.
The battery itself is finished in matt silver and grey, and looks pretty good for what is essentially a utilitarian kind of product. At the base you’ll find a connector for charging the ReCharge4 up from the mains, while on the right side is another connector for hooking it up to your device. There are eight indicator lights on the front which display the amount of remaining charge when the button at the bottom is pressed. Both the connectors are protected by rubber bungs and the battery slips into a velvet drawstring bag for transport.
The battery itself weighs only 120g, which is pretty reasonable even by today’s standards of super-svelte mobile phones and MP3 players. With dimensions of 84 x 40 x 23mm (HxWxD) the ReCharge4 is small enough to slip into your pocket, and will easily hide unobtrusively in your bag.
Exspect sells three versions of the ReCharge4 – Portable Gaming, MP3 Player and Mobile Phone. The Portable Gaming pack will charge a Sony PSP, Nintendo DS, DS Lite, GBA, GBA SP and GameBoy Micro. The MP3 Player pack is good for Creative, Apple, iRiver and any device that charges over a mini-USB socket. Finally, the Mobile Phone pack is compatible with most Nokia, Motorola, Sony Ericsson and Samsung phones.
I was sent the Portable Gaming pack for use with my plethora of handheld consoles. But if I wanted to use the ReCharge4 with my iPod or mobile phone, I could just buy the connector set separately, rather than having to buy a completely separate battery package. In the box I found four different charging cables, along with an extension cable to let you keep the ReCharge4 in your pocket or bag while you’re using it. Given the fact that the battery life on the PSP is particularly poor, having a device like the ReCharge4 in your bag is a real boon. In fact I often find myself running out of juice on relatively short train journeys because I’ve forgotten to charge my PSP overnight.
Once my PSP had died, I simply plugged the ReCharge4, pressed the Check/Start button and it instantly started charging the PSP battery, while also allowing me to carry on playing. Obviously it’s a little inconvenient having the ReCharge4 plugged in while you’re playing, but having a cable plugged into the power socket is far less of an issue than being bored for hours.
But the ReCharge4 isn’t just a great solution for on-the-move recharging and power, it also makes a good case for itself as a travelling companion. If, like me, you travel with all sorts of gadgets and gizmos, having a single device that can recharge them all is definitely preferable to carrying multiple chargers. Ultimately, the only charger you’ll need to carry is the one for the ReCharge4 – and you can charge a device while the ReCharge4 itself is also charging up. The only real downside with using the ReCharge4 to keep all your devices powered up while you’re away is that you can only charge one device at a time, and sometimes that just won’t be convenient. I generally leave all my kit charging overnight when I’m away for business, safe in the knowledge that everything will be at full power in the morning, but that’s not an option using the ReCharge4.
For me the ideal solution to not carrying loads of chargers with you on a business trip or holiday is making sure that every portable device charges over a USB port. With this scenario you can charge pretty much everything from your notebook, so the only power supply you need to carry with you is your notebook power brick. I’ve managed to equip myself with USB charging cables for most of my mobile devices now, so when I do travel all I need is a notebook and a USB hub to keep everything charging overnight.
Of course my USB charging nirvana still doesn’t help you when you’re stuck on that long haul flight, and this is where the ReCharge4 really does come into its own. And as someone who seems to find himself on long haul flights all too often, the benefits of a product like this are obvious.
With a retail price of £39.99 the ReCharge4 isn’t exactly cheap, but it doesn’t seem particularly overpriced either. The only issue with the pricing is that there is no word about how much the separate cable packs will cost yet. What I’d really like to see is the battery and charger available without any cables, and then you could pick and choose the connection options that you actually need, rather than paying for cables that you’ll never use. Obviously this would make the sales process a little more complicated for Exspect, but I feel that the end user would be getting a better and more tailored solution.
The ReCharge4 is a great little portable power plant. It’s light enough not to weigh your bag or pocket down, it’s well designed and just does what it’s supposed to. Ultimately though, I’d like to be able to buy one with just the connectors I need, rather than a whole bundle.
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