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HolidayBuyer's Guide
Mobile

EcoFlow River is a mobile power plant for all your gear

This slick-looking battery could change how and where you work and play.

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EcoFlow's River can pump out up to 500 watts, but weighs just 11 pounds (5 kg).

Sarah Tew/CNET

Batteries might not be the sexiest tech around, but for people who live or die by their devices (or at least depend on them for work) being able to stay up and running wherever you are is essential.

Currently available on Indiegogo for $499 (roughly £390 or AU$675), the EcoFlow River mobile power station claims a huge capacity of 412Wh or 116,000mAh with a total output of 500 watts. Up front you'll find spots for all your mobile charging needs: four USB ports (two with Quick Charge 2.0), two USB Type C with Quick Charge 3.0 and two DC outlets. Around back you'll find two AC outlets and a 12-volt car port.

I had a chance to test an early sample and, while I did no formal battery testing, it seems to perform as promised, powering and charging up to 11 devices simultaneously for hours. It was a perfect companion for everything from car camping trips to home improvement work to keeping my drone and GoPro batteries charged up while I was out flying for the day.

That amount of power also meant I could go work on my laptop out in park for hours with my screen on full brightness without worrying about finding an outlet or my phone battery dying while I used it as a mobile hotspot. And while using it outdoors or on the go is a given, I also found myself using it around the house in lieu of an extension cord.

Also, because the thing weighs around 11 pounds (5 kg), it wasn't too much of hassle to carry around and the display on front lets you know just how much power you're using and the time remaining. What really sells the River, though, is that it'll make a great emergency power source since it doesn't trickle discharge as quickly as competing stations. EcoFlow claims it will keep a full charge for one year, so it'll be ready whenever you need to use it.

When its batteries are drained a full charge off a wall outlet takes only 6 hours. If you're traveling, a car lighter socket will get it fully charged in 9 hours. EcoFlow also offers an optional solar panel that will take the River from empty to full in 10 to 15 hours.

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The River isn't water sealed, but an optional $59 case helps protect it from the elements.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Though the initial campaign ended, EcoFlow is extending it until June 8 at its $499 price. It is fully funded and the company says its already getting the power stations ready to ship the first units out to backers with shipments expected to arrive in June and July (though UK, Australia, EU versions shipping with 220-230V 50Hz AC output and a universal plug won't ship till September).

Editors' note: This story has been updated to note that EcoFlow extended its preorder period on Indiegogo until June 8.