There’s no shortage of external battery packs for iPhones, iPads and other USB-powered devices. With occasional exceptions, the majority have little to distinguish them. But thanks to the addition of a USB-C port, the Xtron can power the 12-inch MacBook as well as iPhones and iPads …
The 13,400 mAh lithium-ion battery can add about seven hours’ life to the MacBook, recharge an iPad Air 2 twice (almost) or charge an iPhone 6s every night for a week. This isn’t as much as the Vinsic Power Bank we reviewed earlier this year, but the Xtron is significantly more portable.
I’m sometimes a little wary of crowdsourced projects, which sometimes take a lot longer than promised to make it into production, and occasionally fail to make it at all, but I think there’s little danger of that this time. The prototype the company sent me is fully finished, and I’d defy anyone to tell it apart from production units. It’s clear that the company is prepared.
Looks-wise, the Xtron is something that looks like it belongs in the company of Apple devices. The enclosure is ABS plastic rather than metal, but you wouldn’t know it to look at it. The matte finish, available in a choice of black and white, looks and feels good. On the prototype, at least, the black is more of a very dark gray. The cap is silver, but does take on a bit of a gold hue in some lights.
At around 9x9x2cm, it slips into most pockets, and is small enough to find a space in most bags. Weighing 180g, it’s probably not something you’re going to carry around all the time on a ‘just in case’ basis, but it’s not a burden for times when it is likely to be needed.
It can charge a MacBook and iDevice simultaneously, and also offers pass-through charging, allowing you to charge it at the same time as it charges connected devices. It’s charged via a MicroUSB socket.
The VIP early-bird price is $69, which is obviously more expensive than lower-end devices with smaller capacities and a cheaper finish, but is in line with higher-end competitors. For MacBook use, you’ll need to add $10 for a matching USB-C-to-USB-C cable if you don’t already have one.
The big question mark is whether the project will get funded: it’s currently sitting at 27% funded with 10 days to go. But there’s certainly no harm backing it.
Xtron is being crowdfunded on Indiegogo, with the campaign running until the end of the month. If you don’t need the MacBook charging capability, there are of course a great many USB battery packs available on Amazon.
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Interesting, but until there are more laptops and peripherals out there that support usb-c, I don’t expect batteries taking off.
Xtron’s battery pack seems good, but they came out a bit too early. Maybe a year too early.
If there aren’t enough usb-c laptops on the market to begin with, nobody is gonna release peripherals for them. I expect the MacBook hasn’t exactly gone admirably in terms of sales and I expect to be confirmed pretty damn soon on it.
I’m particularly waiting for a USB-C version of the Apple Thunderbolt display, or something along those lines – but hopefully from a manufacturer that won’t give it a 4-figure (or high 3-figure) price.
Then we can talk about solving one of the MacBook’s two major shortcomings: expansion (the other being 2011-era performance).
Wouldn’t ANY USB battery pack work as long as it could provide the necessary current?
Yes, but most don’t.
What’s the problem with those that don’t work? I know there’s a lot of cheap junk being sold and I wouldn’t expect those to work well, but why would a quality battery pack have problems? Does the USB-C pose a problem that an adapter couldn’t cure??
Most packs just can’t deliver enough wattage for a MacBook – they are only intended for phones.
how many volts & amps is this capable of delivering? The MacBook has a 29W power supply – it needs more than an iPad to keep it charging up whilst in use – and it’s unclear if this battery will provide enough.
I guess that is one good thing about switching to USB-C for power — you can use an external battery. Since Apple sued HyperMac they can no longer make their external batteries — so I had to make the cable myself, which required me buying an official apple power brick just to get the damned magsafe connector and then cutting the wire open and making the “magic box” — funny how Apple would do this to their own customers, over a connector that what looks like they won’t even be using anymore.