The portable power pack has returned in netbook-friendly form. Is it our new favourite Gorilla?
For all the snazzy interfaces and brushed aluminium they tend to flaunt, it’s battery life that’s ultimately the most important feature of a portable gadget. After all, how will we Twitpic our lunch if the battery on our iPhone has run out?
We've long been fans of Powertraveller's range of portable chargers and solar panels, and in particular the Gorilla cell, which carries enough spare juice to recharge a laptop. If the modern blogger can survive with just a smartphone and a netbook, though, it seems a little churlish to double the amount of weight in your smart reporters' satchel by throwing in a brick-like device designed for powering 17in video editing suites.
Step forward the Minigorilla. Almost exactly a third of the size and capacity of the bigger Gorilla, it comes with a pack full of plugs designed to fit every netbook or smartphone known to man. If that's not enough, there's a USB port for docks that don't come in the pack – cameras, for example.
The adaptors feel a little fragile when clipped into the main cable, and there is room for improvement in the socket design. While we're being picky, the neoprene carry case is great, but doesn't have room for the charger and international plugs.
Importantly, though, using the Minigorilla is identical to the Gorilla. One button scrolls through output settings from 5V to 19V, and you just click it until it matches your laptop or phone's requirements, then plug in your device and go.
At just shy of £100 there's an argument that you'd be better off buying a spare battery for your netbook, but if you regularly carry two or three devices long distances, it works out as reasonable value for money.
One charge of the Minigorilla was enough to fill an iPhone three times over, or more than fill up an Asus EeePC 901 – more than expected, if we're honest. It can add days onto the time you can spend away from a power socket, and is virtually indestructible to boot.
To put it another way, if Ranulph Fiennes has a netbook, there's a good chance he's got a Minigorilla, too.
Powertraveller Minigorilla review
A compact, charging device that does one thing well. Not cheap, but if you need it, worth every penny