As we start to haul around an increasingly large number of portable gadgets, our need for having some extra power on the go increases as well. This is becoming particularly true when it comes to smartphones, because we oftentimes find ourselves out of power before we have an opportunity to find a wall outlet. To this end, the Choiix Power Fort was developed. It's a rechargeable external battery pack that can be used to top up just about anything that'll take a charge from a USB port. We've seen similar products, but what makes this one different? Let's find out!
Features at a Glance
Featuring a glossy black finish on one side and a matte black finish on the other side, the Choiix Power Fort boasts an internal 2700mAh battery, which is equivalent to 10Whs. Compare this to the 3600mAh you get out of the similarly-sized HyperMac Micro. Even so, this should be enough to charge up even the biggest of smartphone batteries at least once (and possibly twice).
Unlike many other external batteries, however, the Choiix Power Fort actually has a power indicator. There are four LED lights hidden behind the glossy black shell; you can press the single button once to see how many lights you get, which is indicative of the relative power remaining.
Look at All Those Accessories!
The version shown here is the Power Fort 10Whrs Black Advanced Edition. This naming scheme is notable for two reasons. First, the device is available in your choice of black or white. Second, it is available in a Standard edition for $44.99US and an Advanced version as tested for $54.99 US.
The Standard Edition comes with the battery pack, a carrying bag, a micro-USB cable and a mini-USB cable. The Advanced Version adds a Travel Accessory Pack, which includes a second (larger) carrying bag, a USB car charger, a USB wall charger, and a set of international wall adapters.
Having the car and wall chargers, as well as the international adapters, is certainly handy for topping up the Power Fort on the road. However, a set of charging tips, similar to the Proporta kit, might have been a nice inclusion as well.
The Universal Portable Battery
After recharging the Choiix Power Fort via the mini-USB port, you can then turn around and use it to charge nearly anything. As expected, power output is via the standard USB port; it should work with everything from a Nokia smartphone to a Garmin GPS.
As mentioned above, you need to provide your own USB charging cable unless your chosen target device uses mini-USB or micro-USB. Whatever the case, as soon as you plug the USB cable into the Power Fort, it starts providing power. There is no on/off button.
I Think I Just Got Flashed
There are three little white LEDs at the front of the device and you can turn these on by pressing the main button twice in quick succession, kind of like double-clicking with your mouse. However, I found the relative brightness of this flashlight to be a little lacking. It's better than nothing, I suppose, but using the xenon flash function on your camera phone is likely brighter. It's nice having this "bonus" feature in a pinch, but it is rather dim.
MegaTechie Mighty or MegaTechie Weakling?
The Choiix Power Fort does some things very well. Its overall design is aesthetically appealing, its power capacity is decent, and the battery level indicator is a definite plus. Because it can charge anything via USB, it is incredibly versatile as well. At the same time, there are other external batteries that offer bigger capacities in about the same size package.
The flashlight function, which somewhat novel, isn't terribly useful either. I think the Choiix Power Fort is a decent product and it largely lives up to its promises. If you find a good deal on it, you wouldn't be ill-advised to buy it.