Product: Fueltank Duo (aka Callpod’s Fueltank Duo Duel-Device Emergency Power)
Rating: One thumb up, one thumb sideways; 85/100; B; * * * 1/2 out of five.
Pros: Light, works with a lot of products, comes with three common adapters plus one of your choice, charges quickly and hold a lot of charge.
Cons: A little pricey, adapters are too short and not (all are) adequately labeled and might not work with older phones.
Overall: The price may bit a bit much to bite but, if you are a frequent traveler, this will be a very useful addition to your kit.
So many devices, so few power outlets. If you’ve been to an airport in the last three years you’ve likely noticed that – or even sought out – spots typically reserved for grungy vacuums are now lounging spots for tech totin’ travelers looking for an open wall socket.
That’s where Callpod’s Fueltank Duo portable, rechargeable battery charger can come in quite handy and allow you to find a less uncomfortable place to perch your posterior.
Out of the Box
The Fueltank Duo ships with the base unit (with internal rechargeable lithium ion battery), a wall outlet power cord, a car outlet power cord (NOTE: this was sent for review but is not included in the retail box), a vinyl zipper pouch, three adapters (Mini-USB, Micro-USB and an iPhone/iPod Adapter), a folded User manual and a coupon for one free device adapter of your choice (online redemption with unique code).
Each adapter measures 3 1/4 in. long from tip to tip with a unique plug that fits into the Fueltank Duo and the opposite side fitting into the compatible portable device.
The Fueltank Duo weighs 6.8 oz. (190 g) and measures 4 7/8 in. long, 3 7/16 in. wide (at its widest) and 3/4 in. tall. It has a plastic outer shell that is primarily gun metal or matte grey with a shiny black middle section.
On one side there is a power plug port (Mini-USB Series B) with a mini lightning bolt icon and a black matte button with a battery icon. Press the button and LEDs light in the black strip to represent the internal battery’s current charge.
On the opposite side are two pug ports – with tiny phone icons – that adapters plug into. When anything is plugged in, a translucent plastic area aroudn the port glows.
In My Pocket, On the Road
I took this little charger pretty much anywhere I traveled (including E3 2010). I abandoned the pouch because the adapters are very small and would get lost in the jumble of cables. Besides, it was an awkward squeeze for the plug (or both plugs, though I primarily used the wall outlet plug) and the power unit so that when I pulled out the cable, the adapters would often end up on the floor (which any frequent flier knows can mean it’s stuck there until the Fasten Your Safety Belt sign is no longer lit and the person seated next to you heads for the restroom).
The Fueltank Duo is a little larger than a desk of cards, so it barely squeezes into your average pocket but it will fit comfortably in a pocket of a pair of cargo shorts or a small pocket in a backpack or messenger bag.
The adapters are a nice size for portability but a worrisome size for plugging in more than one device and annoying for keeping safe. The tiny length means the plug has very little play and plugging int two devices usually means close quarters by the battery. (I ordered a plug for my DSi that I acquired thanks to the voucher and promptly lost it in the first hotel I stayed in.) I was able to work the iPhone plug enough to allow me to bend it back while charging so it didn’t hang from the Fueltank like a fat tail when I stuffed it into my backpack to charge. Even so, bending any plug that stiff that much worries me about its longevity (and safety).
As for compatibility, pretty much everything I plugged in was able to charge. The three included adapters were pretty useful but you’ll definitely want to get the adapter for your game system (they sell adapters for $9.95 each and make adapters for DS, DS Lite, DSi, Game Boy Micro and PSP). Some devices, such as the iPod Touch, do require that the plugs be plugged in a particular order otherwise the device might not recognize it as a charger.
The exceptions to the universality of the device were select older Nokia phone that use the mini Nokia jack. I was able to charge a Nokia N81 but unable to charge older Nokia phones or a Nokia N81. There is a USB adapter (labelled “iPod USB”) but, even so, if the device didn’t like the Fueltank Duo with the device-specific adapter, it still didn’t take with the USB-adapter-plus-USB-cable combo.
My major complaint is that not all of the adapters have the top side marked “Top” for the Fueltank end. The plug appears that it can be used either way although the port in the Fueltank is notched. A few adapters did have the top side noted as “Top” but, if not, it’s pretty easy to mix up the sides and basically ruin the port (or the device). I recommend marking it yourself. Silver fingernail polish or a silver ink permanent marker works nicely.
I wish Callpod would put some type of loop on the adapters so they could be tethered together.
The charge indicator button and LEDs are nice features that I didn’t even notice until after using the device for about month. I never seemed to need them as the device usually had enough remaining charge to handle whatever I plugged in. Even so, it’s comes in handy and is pretty dern clear.
Handy Traveling Companion
The Fueltank Duo is an extremely useful portable charging device, assuming you have compatible adapters and a little carrying space. Again, I took – and now take – this with me whenever I travel, usually bringing either the wall or car power plug depending on my main mode o’ transpo.
In terms of power, the Fueltank Duo provides a lot of backup power, much more than most deck-of-cards sized chargers, and will last though a cross-continental flight. Charge speed is very quick, seeming faster than your average power plug though the individual devices may have a maximum throughput to prevent burnout. The only issue for some be cable length and space when you plugging in more than one device at the same time. Also, you’ll need to find a way to keep tabs on your adapters.
The price may bit a bit much to bite but, if you are a frequent traveler, this will be a very useful addition to your kit.