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Mini-review: Toddy Gear Customizable Smart Charge Deluxe power bank

If there’s one category of gadget likely to cause a tech-lover to yawn, it’s portable power banks. Sure, they can be useful, and many of us throw one in a bag just in case any of our devices run low on power before the day is out, but they aren’t exactly … interesting. In general, if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ’em all …

Of course, that doesn’t stop manufacturers from trying. Digital Treasures caught my eye a few years ago with one convincingly disguised as a hip-flask, and other companies have tried a range of methods to make theirs stand out. Whether it’s relying on bright colors or cute designs, or disguising them as Starbucks drinks, lipsticks, juice boxes, chocolate bars or who knows what else.

Toddy Gear has come up with a new angle, though: its Customizable Smart Charge Deluxe power bank lets you upload a photo which they print onto the front of the bank.

Most people would likely choose a photo of their partner or children. Since my photos were going to be shared with the world, I’ve opted for a couple of travel photos, one taken in Manhattan, the other in Vancouver.

The bank arrives with a protective plastic film which needs to be peeled off.

The photos are clearly printed onto a second plastic film applied to the power bank, as close examination under a light reveals that the surface isn’t entirely flat. Viewed close-up, there’s also a slightly textured look reminiscent of a painting.

But viewed at a normal distance, neither issue is apparent: the print quality looks very much like any other consumer-grade print. There’s a gloss finish, and color reproduction is decent if unexceptional.

As for functionality, it’s all pretty standard. The company hasn’t yet adapted to a USB-C world, so you get two USB-A ports plus a microUSB port for charging. One port delivers 1A for iPhones, while the other delivers 2.1A for iPads. You get three blue LEDs to indicate the power level. The 7000mAh capacity means it won’t fully-recharge an iPad, but will extend its life, but will recharge an iPhone at least twice.

A typical no-brand 7000mAh power bank costs around $9-10, so Toddy Gear’s $32 means you’re paying about $22 extra for the photo. That’s not a trivial premium, but nor will it break the bank. Worth it to look at a photo you love instead of plain chunk of metal or plastic? Only you can decide.

The Toddy Gear Customizable Smart Charge Deluxe power bank costs $31.99.

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Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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