Review: Power Me Up

A portable power charger sounds like a great idea. But does the Power Monkey do the trick? Read on…

By Charlie Brown

Make: Powertraveller

Model: Power Monkey-Explorer

Straight out the box, the Power Monkey-Explorer doesn’t look much, but its exterior belies a useful little product that could be a popular accessory in this modern age of portable devices. It comes partnered with a solar slave unit – whereby you can power up the Power Monkey (very handy in sun-laden Australia), which in turn means you don’t need a power cord.

However, if you want to power the unit up via the mains, the manufacturer has not only provided the cord, but interchangeable heads for the UK, Australia, Europe as well as China/Japan/US.

The unit also comes with various tip packs that allow you to connect the Monkey to your portable device via a USB port. They have provided tips for LG, Motorola, Samsung and Sony Ericsson phones (most new models), a Made For iPod charging tip, a laptop retractable USB charging cable, Mini USB tip, mini Nokia DC2.0 tip, plus a couple more – in other words, most modern portable items can be recharged. It might be well worth asking the sales person if your portable device will work with the unit before purchasing.

So how did it handle what it was designed to for? Very well. It comes 60 percent charged already, and both power points (one for the solar slave if needed, the other to charge it and/or attach one of the tips) have protective covers that appear quite sturdy and will stand the rigours of being removed many times over their lifetimes. It has an LCD panel that nicely illuminates the state of charge.

I allowed the battery of an LG Arena that I had on loan to run low to see how quickly the Power Monkey-Explorer could power it up again. The Arena got down to a single bar, and it took about 30 minutes for all three bars to be show once the monkey was attached. When I unplugged the power monkey it had only about 10 percent of its juice left. It’s important that the portable device gets powered up before the Monkey is drained completely.

I have no idea how many devices can be power up when it is full itself, but I see this unit as something that can be very handy for those travelling overseas, especially to countries where power supply is inconsistent. Of course having the solar slave in Norwegian fjords in the middle of winter won’t do much, yet this would not be a problem in Australia! This device would also be ideal for those who like tramping in the outback, but like their portable creature comforts.

One thing I didn’t check (due to time constraints) was how quickly the solar slave powered up the Monkey itself. Apparently it takes longer than a power cord, however this is not unusual as mains power should be more efficient than a small solar battery.

Overall, I really liked the unit. It was easy to use, functioned how I expected it to, and didn’t fail in any of the (albeit limited) tasks I set.

Pros: Top device when travelling; great interchangeability with universal plugs and tips; does the job it is supposed to do; nice and compact; LCD panel nice and clear;

Cons: Could have been packaged a little better; no charging option with car;

RRP: $149.99

4 Shacks out of 5