Quirky Pickup Power review: Quirky's Pickup Power station is a letdown

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The Good The Quirky Pickup Power comes with a surge protector and a portable battery that can charge your smartphone on the go. It's cleverly designed with helpful LEDs and enough capacity to carry two charges for most phones.

The Bad With only 6,000mAh of battery charging power and three outlets in the surge protector, you can find better options individually for less.

The Bottom Line The Quirky Pickup power combines a surge protector and portable battery simply for the sake of offering something new. Nothing is added by the combination to justify the premium that you'll pay for it.

5.6 Overall
  • Features 4
  • Usability 5
  • Design 7
  • Performance 7

Quirky's dedication to crowdsourced creation is admirable. It's led the company to some unique inventions like the Pivot Power Genius , the Spotter , the Egg Minder and the Porkfolio . Some, like the Aros , proved extremely useful and reasonably priced if occasionally glitchy. Some, like the Refuel , make less sense for discerning customers. Unfortunately, the Quirky Pickup Power falls in that latter category.

The combination of a portable battery pack and a surge protector seems like a great match. It's a one-stop- shop for your power and each piece does its part and works well. The surge protector offers mid range protection from surges and the portable charger matches low to mid level models in capacity. The combination is inventive and unique, but at $100 for a 6,000mAh battery and $80 for a 4,000mAh version, the pieces add to a premium that's not worth the sum of its parts. You can save a lot of money and get a better portable charger and surge protector by buying each separately.

The basics

The Quirky Pickup Power combines a portable battery charger with a three-plug surge protector. The plugs sit on one side of the power strip, the battery charger sits in a cradle on the other. Two metal contacts help you determine which way is which as you put the battery in place. While resting, it gains a charge and shows you its progress with four LEDs. If one is lit, the battery has 25 percent capacity. Two lit indicates 50 percent, and so on.

When you're ready to take the battery on the run, it pops out of the base easily thanks to a clever divot in the cradle. Push down on the far end and you can easily grab it and go. I appreciated that simple but helpful design touch, as it allows the battery to rest uniform with the surface of the power strip, while side-stepping any prying you might have had to do to get to it.

The battery fits neatly in the slot on the right. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The battery pack itself fit into my pocket, but I have big pockets. In terms of length and width, it's smaller than an iPhone, but it's thick at 0.8 inch for the 6,000mAh pack and 0.6 inch for the 4,000mAh. By comparison, current smartphones tend to be between 0.2 and 0.3 inch, so you might find it bulky. That said, for a portable charger, it's on the small side, as comparable models can run an inch thick or more.

In terms of battery power, 6,000mAh will be enough to fully charge most smart phones twice. The iPhone 6 Plus has a 2,915mAh battery, the iPhone 6 rocks 1,810mAh, the Galaxy S5 sits at 2,800mAh and the HTC One M8 holds 2,600mAh of juice. It won't be enough to charge bigger tablet batteries, the iPad Air 2 carries 7,340mAh of life, but given that most tablets can last 10 hours, getting 6000 mAh on the road should hopefully be enough until you can get home.

It has two USB ports for simultaneous charging, as well as a mini-USB that allows you to plug it into a computer for a boost if you're not near the power strip.

Charge up to two phones at once. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

To use the charger, simply connect your phone's cord into one of those USB ports and press the button on the side of the battery. The LEDs will briefly light up, indicating how much charge you have left to spare, and it'll go to work. You can get a status update from the LEDs at any time by pressing the button again.

The power strip offers 1,080 joules of surge protection and has a generous 6-foot-long cord. The power button sits on the plug itself, instead of at one end of the strip.

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