November 15, 2009 at 10:11 PM by Dr. Drang
I’ve never had a complaint about my iPhone’s battery life, but I am often worried that it will run out on long travel days. Also, I’ve never found a car charger for it that doesn’t cause interference when I have the phone hooked up for playback through my car’s stereo. This week I found a solution to both of those problems with the Eneloop Mobile Booster. And I got it cheap—just $20—through a closeout sale at Costco.
The Mobile Booster I bought is the KBC-L2. It’s the predecessor to the KBC-L2S now found on Eneloop’s site and at Amazon. The packaging looks like this (I stole the photo from this site, which gave the Mobile Booster a rave review at its pre-closeout price of $39):
What comes in the package are:
- a 5000 mAh lithium-ion battery, about 3 inches by 3 inches in plan and 1 inch thick
- an AC adapter for direct charging from a wall outlet
- a USB-A/USB-mini cable for charging through your computer
The battery itself looks like this:
The upstream side has the AC and USB-mini sockets; the downstream side has two USB-A sockets for connecting the devices you need to charge. There’s a blue LED under the skin between the Sanyo logo and the button. It lights up when the unit is charging and when you push the button to check the charge.
This seems like a good place to mention the worst part of the KBC-2L Mobile Booster: it comes with absolutely no instructions. Luckily, the KBC-2LS’s instructions work for the older version, too. They’ll tell you how to decipher the various flashing patterns of the LED, and, most important, they’ll tell you that you have to press the button to get the Mobile Booster to start charging your device. Let me repeat that:
To charge your iPhone (or other device), you must first plug it into the Mobile Booster and then push the button on the Mobile Booster. If you don’t push the button, the device will not charge.
That’s kind of important, and it’s nowhere in the KBC-L2 packaging.
While I’m at it, I should also link to Sanyo’s list of compatible devices. Good to know before you buy.
The Mobile Booster is not especially stylish, nor is it built specifically for the iPhone, so if you really want the convenience of a Mophie Juice Pack, you won’t be satisfied with the Eneloop. But it’s a lot cheaper and has much more capacity—four times the capacity if the 5000 mAh rating is to be believed. In my tests so far, I’ve gotten two full iPhone charges and still haven’t exhausted the Mobile Booster. For $20, I would have been happy with just one full charge.
As for the playback interference, the Mobile Booster solves that problem by eliminating my need to use the electrically noisy car charger on long drives.
The Mobile Booster isn’t a spur-of-the-moment thing. It takes up to 7 hours to charge it through the AC adapter and up to 14 hours through the USB cable. So you’ll need some time before your trip to get it ready. But if your travels are scheduled at least a night in advance, it should work well for you.
Normally, I don’t like recommending something until I’ve spent a good deal of time using it. But the closeout sale at Costco won’t last forever, and the $20 price is spectacular.