Electrovaya PowerPad 160 review: Electrovaya PowerPad 160

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MSRP: $399.00

The Good More than five hours of life in our tests; can recharge a laptop's native battery and power the laptop at the same time; comparatively light.

The Bad Expensive; long recharge time; six-month warranty.

The Bottom Line In spite of a few drawbacks, the Electrovaya PowerPad 160 is the best external battery for laptop users who travel long distances.

8.0 Overall

For an external battery that provides so much staying power, it's hard to believe that Electrovaya's PowerPad 160 weighs only 2.6 pounds. At 0.5 by 11.9 by 8.8 inches, its footprint is only slightly bigger than that of the hi-Capacity SmartPad 90, but the Electrovaya PowerPad 160 is 11 ounces lighter and provides more power. Unfortunately, this mighty mite will set you back between $450 and $480--about what a cheap PC costs these days--but it's worth it if you frequently travel long distances with your laptop. Pound for pound, it's the best external battery tested in CNET Labs.

The Electrovaya's PowerPad 160's travel weight is just 3.3 pounds, and it has 160WHr of juice at its disposal. The company sells similar batteries with 120WHr or 80WHr of power, and all are compatible with around 400 recent laptops (check &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex_1&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Eelectrovaya%2Ecom%2Fcompat%5Flist1%2Epdf">this Electrovaya page, a PDF file), including Apple PowerBooks and iBooks.

The Electrovaya's PowerPad 160 comes with a special power cable that lets you charge the laptop's native battery while the external battery is also running the laptop. Valence also sells this handy cable as an optional accessory for its battery; other external batteries lack this feature.

In CNET Labs' tests, the Electrovaya PowerPad 160 ran for an average of 5 hours, 5 minutes--the longest-lasting external battery we've tested--while powering our test laptop, the Toshiba Satellite Pro 6100. It should be noted that our test is hard on batteries (see how we test external batteries). Electrovaya claims that the battery can add up to 10 hours of battery life under certain conditions--for instance, if you're only running a program such as Microsoft Word. On the downside, the battery took 4 hours, 45 minutes to fully recharge, the longest of any external battery we've tested.

Another downside is that the Electrovaya PowerPad 160 can be recharged only 350 times before degradation may occur. In other words, after 350 charge cycles, the battery could start holding less of a charge. That's fewer charge cycles than other external batteries we've tested, although it should be noted that all batteries eventually lose the ability to hold a charge after enough use. The short six-month warranty is also a shame for an external battery this expensive, and the unit does not include a manual.

Power to go
Battery name
Dimensions (inches)
Weight (pounds)
Capacity (WHr)
Recharge time
Hi-Capacity SmartPad 90 $392 0.5 by 11.3 by 8.8 3.3 140 4 hr., 50 min. 4 hr., 15 min.
Electrovaya PowerPad 160 $450 0.5 by 11.9 by 9.8 2.6 160 5 hr., 5 min. 4 hr., 45 min.
Laptops for Less Universal ED350 $150 1.0 by 7.5 by 4.0 1.6 49 1 hr., 5 min. 3 hr.
Valence N-Charge VNC-130 $300 0.6 by 11.8 by 9.1 3.0 120 to 130 4 hr., 10 min. 3 hr.

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