External battery chargers for smartphones and tablets are a dime a dozen, but Innergie has equipped its PocketCell Rechargeable Battery Bank with some important differentiating points.
For starters, it's nicely designed, and it could probably pass for an Apple product if it had the requisite logo. Apart from that and the fact that this can can charge an iPad and other tablets, the big extra here is the included universal USB cable, which Innergie calls the Magic Cable 3-in-1.
You get the Apple 30-pin connector at the top, followed by Micro- and Mini-USB connectors. You simply pull the connectors apart to access either USB connector. Also, to charge the unit up, you simply flip the cable around, plug the Micro-USB connector into the battery, and the other end into the USB port on a computer or USB charger.
This is a 3,000mAh battery, which more than doubles the battery life of an iPhone and will give you about 4 hours of use for your iPad (fully charged, the iPad gives you about 8 hours of use).
I can't say the PocketCell charged extremely quickly, but I tested it with an iPhone, the 3rd-generation iPad, a Kindle Fire, and the Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone, and it worked just fine with all of them. However, I was unable to charge a PS Vita gaming system (using Sony's proprietary USB cable).
Like a lot of these battery packs, the PocketCell has a set of four LED lights that indicates how much juice it's got left. Another nice feature: the PocketCell will automatically turn to sleep mode to save energy if you stop using it for 10 seconds (in other words, if you accidentally leave it on after you unplug it from your device, it will go to sleep by itself).
In all, the Innergie PocketCell Rechargeable Battery Bank is an impressive little portable charging option. My only gripe is that it's fairly pricey. It lists for $79.99 but can be had for around $60 online. There are certainly cheaper external battery options out there -- for instance, Monoprice sells a 3,000mAh battery charger for around $20 -- though few that include a universal charging cable (the Magic Cable 3-in-1 sells separately for $19.99 in case you lose it). This model is also smaller than many of the compact, brick-style chargers.
Bottom line: The combination of the 3-in-1 cable and the battery pack's appealing design makes the Innergie PocketCell one of the better portable chargers out there. It's just not a bargain.