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Lepow ADD Power Bank: A pleasant surprise in a mundane product category

I'll be the first to admit that extended battery packs aren't exactly the most exciting accessory to write or read about. But every once in a while some manufacturer comes out with a product that's so different that you just have to say "wow!" despite yourself. That was the case with Lepow's ADD Power Bank (US$69.99 MSRP, available for $49.99 from some online retailers). It's a two-part external battery pack consisting of a 4500 mAh primary pack and a 4500 mAh supplementary pack that stick together magnetically ... but that's not the whole story. Read on!

Specifications

Primary pack
  • Dimensions: 4.7 x 2.4 x .4 inches (12 x 6.1 x 1.1 cm)
  • Weight: 4.23 oz (0.12 kg)
  • Capacity: 4500 mAh

Supplementary pack

  • Dimensions: 4.4 x 2.4 x .4 inches (11.1 x 6.1 x 1.1 cm)
  • Weight: 4.23 oz (0.12 kg)
  • Capacity: 4500 mAh
  • Input/output voltage: DC 5V
  • Output current: 2100 mA

Design Highlights

The design of the ADD is what makes it so unique. Rather than being your usual smartphone/tablet battery pack, the ADD lets you choose what to take along with you. If you're just using your iPhone and might need to top off the battery, you can drop the primary pack in your pocket and you're ready to roll. Need more juice for your iPad? Grab the secondary pack and place it next to the primary pack, and the two magnetically couple. A small arm swivels 90° to add power from the supplementary pack.

The company makes the primary pack in three colors -- taffeta white, raspberry pink and sky blue -- while the supplementary packs come in concrete gray. Even the packaging for the ADD is a bit unique -- the device comes in recyclable cork boxes instead of using plastic or styrofoam, and there's a felt and elastic carry sleeve that comes with it.

A USB to micro-USB cable is included for charging, although any similar cable would do the job as well. How do you know what the charge level is in the pack? Easy -- you shake it and a series of LEDs (orange for the primary pack, green for the supplementary pack) turn on to give you the relative level of charge. It's a smart idea and there's no need for a separate button for determining power level.

Last point on the design: for some reason I was reminded of Lego... The ADD is very angular and has a soft-touch finish, and it just looks very modern.

Functionality Highlights

Call me weird, but there's something just fun about having two battery packs stick together with magnets. I love the fact that you don't have to carry the full duo with you and can basically just take what you need. The green packaging was a surprise, the felt carry case provides a warm touch to an otherwise "cold" accessory.

The idea of giving the pack(s) a shake to get the charge level is also fun, and the different colored LEDs give you a solid indication of charge in both packs when they're joined up. For charging the supplementary pack separately, there's a tiny red LED that turns off when the pack is full.

The big question for me with any battery pack is whether or not it can truly be used to charge an iPad -- I've had some packs that advertise being able to put out the necessary 2.1A to charge an iPad but fail in the process. A quick test with both an iPad mini and an iPad Air showed that it will help to top off a current-generation iPad with no issues.

Conclusion

In the world of mundane external battery packs for mobile devices, the Lepow ADD Power Bank is a breath of fresh air. At the $49.99 price point it's also reasonably-priced; however, at the $69.99 MSRP there are many other battery packs that would simply be a better buy despite being less impressive in the design department.

Rating: 3-1/2 stars out of 4 stars possible

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