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 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 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.
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.
You can buy this odd combination on Quirky's website, Amazon and a few electronic retailers such as Radio Shack. Again, the cost is $100 for the 6,000mAh version, and for the 4,000mAh Pickup Power, you'll pay $80.
That price doesn't quite add up; 6,000mAh is plenty of capacity, but not top of the line. At Best Buy and Amazon, you can find portable chargers with as much power or more for $30-$50. That leaves the surge-protecting power strip to make up the remaining ground, and it doesn't come close.
The 1080 joules this Quirky unit offers is more than $5-$10 powers strips can offer, but it still lands more in the middle of the road than the premium end. Those same retailers mentioned above have plenty of models with 2,000 to 3,000 joules of protection and six or more outlets. On Amazon, you can buy a standalone 10,000mAh battery and a 12-outlet surge protector rated for 3,780 joules for under $50 combined.
On the plus side, at 6.05 ounces, the battery is a little lighter than the competition. Best Buy's top 6000 mAh model weighs 8 ounces. Also, the button on the side and status LEDs add a bit of convenience, though I found the button would cause a few false starts on occasion when I plugged in my phone. I'd connect the two, hit the button to start charging, and it would charge for a second, stop, start again, stop, and then finally take off. That was a minor inconvenience, but if your phone beeps at you when it's low on battery, expect a few extraneous beeps when first connecting to Quirky's battery.
Despite some minor size advantages to the battery, the pieces themselves don't justify the premium. The only remaining saving grace would be the convenience offered by combining the two -- the reason for the invention in the first place.
As I mentioned, the battery fits well and pops out from the base easily. I liked the simple and elegant design, but I'm still not going to put a power strip in a prominent place in my home. I tuck my surge protectors away, behind my entertainment center or under my desk. If you do the same, the location of the friendly little home for your battery pack will be tough to reach.
Because putting a surge protector with a portable battery made Quirky cut back on the number of outlets and might result in an inconvenient resting place for the charger, the combination ends up hurting each piece instead of helping them.
The Quirky Pickup Power was inspired by a housing contractor who grew annoyed when his cell phone battery died in the middle of the day. He wanted to be able to charge his phone on the go. I won't dispute the convenience of a portable battery charger. Surge protectors can also prove invaluable in protecting your electronics, but this combination isn't helpful or convenient.
Shop piecemeal and you can buy more capable versions of each for less. If you do, you won't be missing out on some cool feature created when they come together. Each piece on its own works well, and they fit together nicely, but in terms of price or functionality, the Quirky Pickup Power isn't worth it.