- Battery Dead? Zap! No problem!
- Have you ever grabbed your cell phone and hurried out the door, only to discover that you forgot to charge it the night before? Or hooked up your iPod to listen to music and realize that the cord was unplugged by your pet and now you have no tunes to groove out to while commuting to work? Well kids, worry no more, as the Anker Astro E4 will supply the juice that your gadget needs, both charging the device AND supplying power to use it during the charge! And let me tell you, that is just swell!
Appearance & Construction
The Anker Astro E4 is a sleek device that is roughly the size of your hand. It is also a thing of simplicity: four lights and a button on the front, two USB out ports on top, and a micro-USB port on the left side. The case has rounded edges and is very smooth, but not so smooth as to slide out of your grasp. Also inclulded in the package is a small Nylon drawstring bag, a USB charging cord with a female plug receptor on one end, and three different charging heads (iPod/iPad/iPhone, Mini- and Micro-USB) that have male adapters to plug into the female port on the USB cord. The three adapters are, as can be inferred, interchangeable on the plug so that you can use the battery to power/charge a myriad of devices; in my usage I was able to charge my iPod Touch 4th Gen, my Samsung Galaxy SII cell phone, as well as my Logitech wireless headset, all with no issues!
In terms of durability, the Anker Astro E4 is definitely constructed to be (slightly) abused. While I would certainly never sling it across a room or casually toss it into a bag, the E4 endured being jostled in my haversack, bumped around on the center console of my car while charging my cell phone, and sat in the back seat of my car for about two hours in direct sunlight (NOT recommended; I accidentally left it out), only to hook it up to my gadget and see that it worked fine.
The only complaint that I have in regard to the construction of the E4 is not so much with the battery itself, but the nylon drawstring bag included in the packaging for storage. As I mentioned earlier, the case for the battery is rather smooth and sleek. The nylon bag is of a mesh weave, similar to the type that you see used for football/basketball jerseys. As a consequence the battery is VERY slippery when placed in this bag. It is imperative that if you use this bag to store/transport your battery that you make sure that the drawstring is tight and the spring clip to hold the drawstring is in place. Otherwise your battery WILL slip out of the bag and onto the floor. Also, the bag is only big enough to store the battery itself; the charging cable and three adapters will have to be kept separate. In short, I recommend that you find another case and/or bag to use so that all of your battery items can be transported in one container. This annoyance is big enough that I removed one star from the rating; the lack of ease with which to keep stuff that is rather important for the function of the device is a drawback.
Using the Anker Astro E4 External Battery Charger is a cinch: plug the USB end of the included charging cable into one of the USB ports on the top of the battery. Next, choose the adapter head that will fit your gadget and plug it into the female receptor on the other end of the charging cable. Connect the end of the charging cable with the correct adapter into your device, and then press the grey, oval button on the front of the E4: the blue lights directly above the button should light up.
A quick note about the lights: there are four blue lights across the front of the battery. These lights indicate how much power that the battery has left to "juice" your gadgets. The instruction book included with the device states that roughly 30% battery power is consumed per complete-charging cycle of a gadget (that is, if your phone is dead, from 0-100% power takes 30% of the charge of the E4 to power your device). As the Anker Astro E4 starts losing its charge, the lights will turn off one-by-one. For this reason, make sure that you keep your battery charged up and ready to use. My personal experience is that the charge will last at least two weeks with no use. And, of course, if you use the E4, don't forget to hook it up (using the micro-USB port on the left side and the charging cable, only using the USB end to hook into a USB port on your computer or USB hub - or into a USB AC adapter, if you buy one).
Okay, back to the charging! The E4 is not a "quick charge" external battery device. While it will give your phone/other gadget a full charge, it does so in roughly a half-hour to an hour, depending upon the device (when the lights on the front of the battery turn off, your device is charged). I found that the charging time is a bit quicker than my usual charging through the device's cable, but the battery is definitely not designed to be used if you want a super-fast full charge. In summation: if you realize that you forgot to charge your phone and are headed out the door, you will need to take the battery with you and give it some time in order to acquire a full charge. For this reason the E4 should only be used as a back-up charging device for those times when you truly need it. Using it as a routine method of powering your devices is not significantly fast enough to warrant this becoming a replacement for traditional charging methods.
It is probably simplest to delineate the Pros/Cons for the Anker Astro E4 External Battery Charger below:
1) The various adapters fit a myriad of devices, ranging from Apple to Android and many things in between, making this truly utilitarian;
2) The battery is light-weight and can slide easily into a purse or briefcase for transport;
3) Holds its own charge for at least two weeks with no use;
4) While it says that each full-charge for a device uses 30% of its own charge, I found that to be significantly overstated: I was able to successfully charge four different "dead" gadgets and it still had two lights on the front, indicating that it could charge at LEAST one more "dead" device easily;
5) Is very simple to use: hook up the charging cable to the top, add the appropriate adapter head for your device, plug it in, turn it on, and voìla!
1) The included storage pouch is nylon and the battery WILL slide out of it unless the drawstring is cinched tightly;
2) The storage pouch is also only large enough to accommodate the battery itself; you will need to find a separate pouch to store the USB charging cable and the adapter heads;
3) Doesn't come with a USB Cable AC plug, so the only charging method for the battery itself is through a USB port on your computer/USB hub.
While the "Cons" of this product are certainly an annoyance, they are not enough for me to say the product stinks. The "Pros" definitely outweigh the negatives. Thus, if you are seeking an emergency backup for those times that you forgot to hook up your phone or a power outage meant your iPod didn't charge the night before, the Anker Astro E4 External Battery Charger is definitely for you. It is durable, sleek, and moderately priced, and when you combine those facts with the ability of the battery to charge a myriad of devices by interchangeable adapters, this external battery charger becomes a steal!
So, if you are gadget-afflicted (like I am), click the "Add to Cart" button now! Having this battery around takes a bit of stress off, knowing that should something happen and my phone/iPod not get charged overnight, I still have a way to charge it without having to disconnect the device's charging cables and dragging them with me while I run errands. I slip the phone and battery into my bag and go about my day!
PS - Anker provided me with this battery at no charge to provide honest feedback through reviews.