Monoprice PoweRocks Universal External Backup Battery Review by Mike Rohde
This is a guest review from my good friend Mike Rohde. Mike is a designer and sketchnote artist based in Milwaukee, WI. He is an experienced designer focused on interface and visual design at Gomoll Research + Design, and runs Rohdesign Studios, a small design and illustration firm. You may know his work as the illustrator of REWORK, the best-selling business book from 37signals.
Mike was in town recently under special invitation from An Event Apart – Minneapolis where he provided the official sketchnotes for the event. I knew that would mean long days of iPhone and iPad use with limited options for power. I lent him one of these and asked him if, in return, he would provide a review under “real world” conditions. This is that review:
When you’re on the road, away from a power source, the last thing you want to see is a low battery warning on your iPhone or iPad. It’s even worse if more than one device is low and there are no wall sockets in sight.
The top surface of the charger features an LED version of the PoweRocks logo to indicate the charge state of the battery inside and when charging – fully lit means fully charged – and when charged – letters grow less lit as the battery is drawn down. Checking the state of the PoweRock is easy – simply press the power button on top of the unit and the letter-level indicator lights for a moment, showing the charge level.
Once charged, the PoweRock’s 7800mAH battery can charge two separate devices via dual USB ports - for instance, an iPad and iPhone – at the same time.
The dual USB ports are designed to charge at two different rates: USB Output I port provides 1000mah output / 2.1 amps for iPads which demand more power, while the USB Output II port provides 500mah for iPhones and smaller demand devices.
The PoweRock battery pack full charges within 5 hours. I like to charge mine the night before an event, or while at my desk working on my MacBook.
I was able to use the PoweRock while charging my iPad and iPhone while off, as well as while using my iPhone while on the road. In fact, my iPad was charged to 100% while writing this review.
I appreciate the PoweRock’s dual USB ports, rather than specific cables, since I can charge a wide variety of electronic devices, so long as they have a USB based charging cable.
One note: Monoprice says the PowerRock dual charger doesn’t work with the Galaxy Tab line of tablets.
The PoweRock’s small size works great for carrying along in my Timbuktu backpack. If my iPhone battery gets low, I know I can charge it up on the spot.
When I go with my minimal iPad kit for travel, writing or on sketchnote gigs, the PoweRock provides the backup I need, freeing me from hauling my entire MacBook along.
Saver is a super simple, yet elegant, app for tracking your expenses. I’ve been using it for a few weeks now and it is not only and easy way to know how much you are spending but also setting budgets to help you control it. I’ve long believed that setting budgets (especially daily budgets) is the best way to keep from buying things one does not need. This is a very elegant solution for doing just that.
Saver was designed with simplicity and usability in mind. It makes it easy to get your data in with the least amount of effort and each screen places only the data you need at a glance. The developers have taken great pains to make this not only the best, but also the most good looking, expense app for your iPhone. I urge you to check it out.
But wait! That’s not all…
They are also giving away three copies of this app away all week to some very lucky winners. Go sign up and perhaps you will win a copy to share with your significant other or friend (Because you purchased a copy for yourself as directed above, right?).
Speaking of sponsors, I’d like to thank ScreenFloat for sponsoring this week’s RSS Feed. It kind of saved my bacon on what was, non-arguably, the biggest week of Apple news in history. The ability to keep a screenshot of reference information floating while I worked in others was essential.
Sponsorship slots for the month of September are now available (well, at least three still are). The price has changed but it is still an excellent value. Don’t just take my word for it. Click through for some quotes from others that have sponsored Minimal Mac in the past.
If you have a product, application, or service that you want to get in front of my smart, engaged, discerning, and, dare I say, sexy readers, I urge you not to wait and get in touch with me now.
This afternoon, Myke and I stopped the presses on our regularly scheduled edition of Enough to record this special one. We discuss Steve’s resignation as CEO and what it means for the future of Apple. We also share a few great Steve stories we have heard.
And then there are Steve and Apple: a leader and a company not afraid to take the long view, patiently building the way to the future envisioned for the company. Not afraid to invent the future and to be wrong. And almost always willing to do one small thing — cannibalize itself. Under Steve, Apple was happy to see the iPhone kill the iPod and iPad kill the MacBook. He understands that you don’t walk into the future by looking back. If you do, you trip over yourself and break your nose. Just look at Hewlett-Packard, and you know what I am talking about.
I want you to be confident that Apple is not going to change. I cherish and celebrate Apple’s unique principles and values. Steve built a company and culture that is unlike any other in the world and we are going to stay true to that—it is in our DNA. We are going to continue to make the best products in the world that delight our customers and make our employees incredibly proud of what they do.
Thought this would be a good time to link to a few of the things I have written in the past about Apple post Steve Jobs. As I said then, and still believe now, Apple will be just fine under the leadership of Tim Cook. The one pull quote that gets right to why I know this:
Everything will be fine when Steve leaves and Tim Cook takes over, it is the culture that drives Apple’s success, not any one individual. So every time you hear an Apple executive mention “culture”, this is what they are saying.
I’ll only add that, because Apple builds products that are two to three years ahead of everyone else, they plan and work that far ahead too. Therefore, anything that Steve’s departure at the helm could affect won’t even be seen until that time. But I doubt that even then, we will notice. It’s not the products, it’s not the vision, it’s the culture.
“Apple’s products are replete with Apple-like features and details, embedded in Apple-like apps, running on Apple-like devices, which come packaged in Apple-like boxes, are promoted in Apple-like ads, and sold in Apple-like stores. The company is a fractal design. Simplicity, elegance, beauty, cleverness, humility. Directness. Truth. Zoom out enough and you can see that the same things that define Apple’s products apply to Apple as a whole. The company itself is Apple-like. The same thought, care, and painstaking attention to detail that Steve Jobs brought to questions like “How should a computer work?”, “How should a phone work?”, “How should we buy music and apps in the digital age?” he also brought to the most important question: “How should a company that creates such things function?” Jobs’s greatest creation isn’t any Apple product. It is Apple itself.”—Daring Fireball: Resigned
You can read his history anywhere. Everyone is writing about him now. So instead I’m going to tell you about the first time I met Tim Cook and why, from that day forward, I have never once worried about Apple post-Steve Jobs.
For the first time, I no longer have a copy of Microsoft Word installed on either of my computers. That’s some change. I wrote my first two books, and many hundreds of articles, in Word. But I’m writing my third book in an inexpensive yet wonderful piece of Mac-only software written by a single person instead of a “business unit” at Redmond. Scoured of Word, my computers feel clean, refreshed, relieved of a hideous and malign burden.
A personal history of electronic writing from the perspective of a writer.
ScreenFloat is one of those “one thing well” apps. It takes screenshots and puts them into a floating window above all others on the screen without having to switch back and forth or move windows around.
Like many such apps, knowing what it does is not nearly as important as why it does it. The screenshot above does a passing job and the video on the ScreenFloat website does a much better one, but I will spell it out for you here…
Let’s say you have a job, like for a Website, that requires you to get information from one place, like Safari, and keep it front and center for reference while you do work in another place, like TextEdit. Before, one would have to switch back and forth between these apps for the information needed. Now, one can take a selective screenshot of the information needed and float it above everything else. No more switching. Easy.
Plus, it keeps all of your shots in a handy browser so you can organize them and pull them up later if need be.
In the process of setting it up – I’ve decided to make this new machine a focused, minimal, work, machine. Despite Migration Assistant – I want to start some new habits, not repeat old, bad ones.
Garrick has become one of my most trusted friends. He is also one of the smartest people I have ever met. When he makes decisions I watch with great interest because they are usually reasoned and brilliant.
I love the idea of not setting up any communications at all. Who needs distraction filtering apps when one never allows the distraction in the first place. He also mentions two apps I was not familiar with before – Flux and MenuBarFilter.
Glassboard is kind of like social networking, in that you share messages, comments, pictures, videos, and locations. The difference is that it’s completely private: what you share doesn’t end up appearing in Google searches.
Very interesting new product from Brent Simmons. Count me in.
My MessagePad keeps me portable and on target the way no modern computer can. I can’t browse the internet with my MessagePad, I can’t use Twitter, IM, or iTunes. There are no preferences to get in the way of my writing. With my MessagePad I don’t need to be sitting at a desk to be productive. If a thought compels me I can pull out my MessagePad and jot down the idea for later. I have written whole blog posts while standing on the subway with my MessagePad.
This post is so awesome it gave me an excuse (as if I really need one) to take out my MessagePad 2100 and play with it for a few hours.
Yep, I still have mine. Works great. I have mentioned it here before but, like Thomas, I used a Newton as my main computer for years. I owned every model. I even produced a handheld-only magazine for years called HandJive.
Let’s consider what Apple’s done. They have the best hardware, the best software, and their prices are lower than competing, lower-quality products, due to Apple’s supply chain strategy, all while their margins are larger. That’s difficult to compete with, and HP has effectively pulled out their white flag. If not HP, then who? Google-Motorola?
I contend not. I contend that it is in the best interest of any competitor, at this point, to do what Apple has consistently done and continues to do – Skate not to where the puck is but to where the puck is going to be.
The hard part, of course, is that you have to be faster to where the puck is going to be than Apple.
“The tablet effect is real, and sales of the TouchPad are not meeting our expectations,” Apotheker says, explaining the movement of consumers from PCs to tablets as one of the problems with the PC division. So H-P is exploring options for its unit that “may include separation through spinoff or other transactions.”
The iPad is causing such disruption in the PC business that HP, a company fundamental to the creation of the personal computer itself, is getting out of the PC business.
Wow. Just wow.
And, if you think other PC makers are not also feeling the pain of the tablet eff… oh heck, let’s just call it what it is, the iPad replacing the very idea of the affordable personal computer in the mind of the average consumer, then you are fooling yourself. I mean, Michael Dell may be laughing it up in public but I can promise you he is crapping his pants in the office and crying in the boardroom. I mean, at this point they are not even in the race that HP is giving up.
So, here is where I would like anyone who disagrees with me to feel free to mark this post and then throw it in my face if it turns out I am wrong. Got it bookmarked? Good. Consider this an open letter…
Dear Anyone Else Who Thinks They Have A Chance In The iPad Market,
You don’t. The iPad is the fire that sucked all the oxygen out of the room. Apple zigged and you guys are still trying to figure out what a zag is. It’s sad really, to see companies that were once at the top of the NASDAQ stumble around digging for pocket change in your high-end sofa cushions.
It is time to stop looking and, like HP, face a simple truth – you can’t win playing the iPad game. Because it is not the tablet game. It is the iPad game. And you can’t make those. You can’t even manage to make something as good as those, at least not at that price. Apple has the channel locked up price wise. Tim Cook saw to that. You will never be able to build at the same cost they do and produce anything even close. And let’s just skip the whole integrated end-to-end platform discussion because you guys are just not built that way.
Oh, Google, sit down and shut the eff up because I’m talking to you too. You are the company that names your beta builds after candy, ice cream, and sugared cereals. Apple names their betas after things that will eat your things along with the tasty human wrapper that eats that crap. Do you honestly think anyone can take you seriously?
Where was I?
OK, are we agreed? You are going to stop trying to make iPads right? Good. So, come a little closer, I’m going to give you a secret. You might want to sit down for this one. I’ll try to explain it simply…
Change. The. Game.
Apple did not beat you with the iPad. They beat you with the iPad market. A market they created out of the ashes of burning netbooks, low cost laptops, and PCs that no one really liked or wanted in the first place. There simply was no other option at the time available for them to buy otherwise. Apple created that option.
Just like the iPad created a whole option, and thus, new market (the one you keep calling the “tablet market”), the only way to compete is not to get into that market but to create a whole new one. One that will suck the life out of the iPad market. Something so disruptive, so mind blowing, so magical that, like the iPad, people will form lines around the block for months to get it.
Create. A. New. Option.
Make the iPad as irrelevant as the iPad seems to be doing to the consumer PC.
Huh? What? You want ME to tell you what that is? What do I look like? Fake Steve Jobs?
That’s YOUR job. That’s what you should have been doing… Oh, i don’t know… 10 years ago. Around the same time Steve was dreaming up the iPad.
Microsoft, you still have some great talent left around. Your R+D department is still one of the most respected in the industry. Do something with that. Grab a few Kinects and see what else you can do with that stuff.
Google, you just bought a bunch of patents. Why not dig around in them. Maybe there is something groundbreaking there. Also, use big people beta names for this stuff. Folks might take it more seriously.
To the rest of you, well, do something different. But, for jeepers sakes, do not keep fooling yourself that there is a tablet business or even much of a consumer PC business you have any chance of making real money in. If HP can’t, if Dell can’t, you are toast there.
I’m well aware that this “review” is really late to the game as the iPad has been out for a while and is already on its second generation. Nonetheless, I’ve had many people ask me if they should take their iPad with them on trips of if they should buy one for an extended around the world trip.
Some pretty good tips here for traveling abroad with the iPad. Especially the tips on how to deal with data connection.
My best ideas come to me when I am unproductive. When I am running but not listening to my iPod. When I am sitting, doing nothing, waiting for someone. When I am lying in bed as my mind wanders before falling to sleep. These “wasted” moments, moments not filled with anything in particular, are vital.
With fullscreen apps and Mission Control, Apple has made multiple desktops easy to use, easy to understand, and most crucially for me, easy to get started with. While not everyone likes fullscreen apps or gestures, to me, this is an example of exactly what Apple is trying to accomplish with Lion: creating a system where the average user immediately knows what to do and feels comfortable doing it; where interactions with the computer feel natural and automatic.
This piece was enough for me to dig into these new features and the capability of changing the way I usually interact a bit further. I agree, Apple is doing some interesting stuff here.
It sort of makes me wonder at what point a three finger swipe on iOS will switch me between apps like it now does with spaces and full-screen mode in Lion. Hmmm…
“I find I print less these days and share electronically a lot more. For the latter, text is best. Even better, if 50 years from now I want to read these words again while riding in my hover car, I’ll be able to open the file on my iPhone 23. After all, it’s just plain text.”—David Sparks, Macworld.com (via prefs)