Manufacturers of external battery packs are a dime a dozen these days. But that still doesn’t stop any of them from pushing onward with better and more innovative devices. It’s how progress goes, right?
There was no escaping the external batteries at CES 2014, however a number of them caught my attention long enough to take a closer look. The Tylt booth had quite the display of power-related accessories going on. After seeing what they had, I started to wonder why more battery packs didn’t have a built-in charging cable to make life simpler?
While many external battery packs go for grippable, rounded, or meaty designs, the Tylt Energi 5k takes a completely different approach. It’s flat and thin, mirroring the surface area of many of today’s smartphones. This makes the battery very stackable and easy to carry along with other devices in the hand. It also packs well too.
But the primary feature that sets the Tylt Energi 5k apart from much of the competition is the built-in cable for charging devices. While some cables (Nomad ChargeKey) are easy and convenient to keep on hand, most are not. Even a shorter cable ends up as yet another object to remember, and charging won’t happen without it.
The built-in cable lies flush with the edge of the battery, yet easy to snap in and out. It’s long enough where I can connect my smartphone and set it on top or to the side.
Have more than one gadget? The Tylt Energi 5k has a USB output port, letting you charge up an additional device if you happen to have another cable. Or maybe tell your friend you’ll share some juice if they proffer their own cable, right? The battery packs 5200mAh of power and can output up to 3A for two devices at the same time. While this won’t work for tablets, it’ll get the job done for pretty much any other mobile product out there.
In terms of construction, the Tylt Energi 5k is pretty solid despite how light it sits in the hand. I casually threw it across the room just to see what would happen. A few bounces and tumbles left only some scratches. Extreme, maybe, but the last thing I want is something to crack open on pavement if it happens to fall out of my backpack.
Tylt Energi 5k has only one button, which serves for power, charging, and energy indicator. The battery doesn’t have auto detect, so the button needs to be manually pushed to start a charge. It also lets you know the approximate battery level by showing green, orange, or red.
While I appreciate how the Tylt Energi 5k strays from the typical 4-LED indicator for battery life, I wish it would blink when charging. Or something. Although it automatically shuts off when a device is full, you have to check on the progress since the LED stays dark.
Note: Most external battery packs I’ve ever purchased and used came only partially charged, so I’ve always made it a habit to fully charge them before use. I tend to fully charge and discharge a new battery a few times, just so I can level out the charge states of the individual cells. It helps to maximize the battery’s manufacturer-listed potential.
The standard efficiency rating of external battery packs currently on the market is 70%. This means that 30% of the battery’s listed capacity is consumed while charging up devices. So, for example, a standard 1000mAh battery would effectively deliver 700mAh of energy.
After fully charging the Tylt Energi 5k right out of the box, I tested it out with my HTC Evo Shift 4G with the stock 1450mAh battery. The Tylt Energi delivered 314% total charge to the HTC battery, which is equivalent to 4553mAh. So that puts the out-of-the-box efficiency at 87.5%, which is pretty good. Like, really good.
The efficiency of the Tylt Energi 5k ranged between 85.1% and 94.2% with each additional cycle, with the average being right around 88.6%. Although inconsistent, the overall performance and output is quite impressive. Shocking, actually, that I set my original testing data aside and started all over again just to come up with similar results.
So what can one do with 4553mAh of battery energy? That’s good for 1.46 full charges to a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 (3100mAh), or 3.16 full charges to an Apple iPhone 5 (1440mAh). A battery like this can certainly carry one throughout an entire day. Those with Apple devices can get the Tylt Energi 5k+, which has a built-in lightning cable.
Overall, the Tylt Energi 5k has a lot of great things going for it. The built-in cable is so extremely handy, and the efficiency rating is positively outstanding. Those two aspects alone honor it as a serious contender for external battery packs. The fact that it’s flat makes it convenient to carry with other mobile devices or packed away in a bag.
The only design criticism, if it could be called that, is the Tylt Energi 5k feels big for its weight. It’s not that dense, though seems it could be made as such. I think a thinner second-generation unit that maintains the construction quality and battery capacity would be great. Either way, 5200mAh of energy in an easy take-anywhere form definitely appeals to my inner minimalist; especially since I don’t have to remember to bring a cable.
The price of the Tylt Energi 5k is a wee bit of a hurdle, especially if you’re looking to get the maximum capacity for the dollar. In the same price range, one can get about 2-3 times the power from a reputable brand. It just won’t have a built-in cable.
There’s nothing overly flashy with the Tylt Energi 5k. No gimmicks. No teeny bulb pretending to be a flashlight. None of that. It’s just a simple battery with a built-in cable that works hard and delivers. This no-nonsense approach totally works for me.