Gadget Review: Ventev Powercell 10000+ and Powercell 6000c Portable Battery Chargers

Ventev powercell 10000+ All-In-One Portable Charger Review

My first thought of the Ventev PowerCell 10000+ was "This thing is heavy"...  Then I realized that it replaces three must have items in my carry-on bag.  It would replace my transformer block that has high and low amperage USB outlets.  No more need to carry two cables, a USB to Lightning for my iPad, and a USB to Micro USB for my camera and other gadgets.  And I can leave my Anker 10000 mAh battery at home.  My normal power and charging gear for traveling.

Here you can see all the normal power/charging stuff I take need to carry.  It weighs in at 13.6 ounces.  The Ventev PowerCell 10000+, that provides all the same functionality weighs only 10.6 ounces.  Doesn't sound like much of a difference, but every little bit adds up when you are on the road.  Here are some output specs: Lightning cable 2.4A / Micro USB 1.8A / USB outlet 5V, 1.0A.  Not shown in my photos is the standard USB outlet on the back.

Ventev Powercell 10000+ Battery & Cables & Wall Charger

Here you can see the size of the unit when compared to a AA battery.  It isn't small but if I could measure the volume of my old power gear I'm sure it would come in much larger than this combo device.  Just like the AC plug the two power cables store nicely on the side of the unit when not in use.  Note that the Lightning charge cable may not work with some iPhone or iPad cases due to its size.  When plugged into an AC outlet for charging the PowerCell 1000+ came back to 100% charge just as fast as any other battery of this size I've used in the past. 

Ventev Powercell 10000+ Review

A digital display is provided to see the current state of the batter.  A power button beside the display turns on the charging feature.  The unit did a good job of charging my devices.  With the battery at 100% charge I plugged in my iPad Mini 4 and a HTC One Android phone for charging.  My iPad was at 38% and my phone at  48%  and I went to bed.  I did NOT TURN OFF my iPad or Phone, or place them in airplane mode for fastest charging.  In the morning I found the iPad and phone fully charged and the remaining battery charge at 44%.  Note:  If the PowerCell 10000+ had been plugged into an AC outlet it is designed to first charge the devices that are plugged in and then recharge it's internal battery. 

Ventev Powercell 6000c Portable Battery Charger Review

The folks at Ventev also sent me a Powercell 6000c for review.   Due to the smaller 6000mAh battery this portable charger is much smaller and lighter than the previous device.  When you first pick it up in its retail packaging it feels very heavy due to the plastic package but the unit weighs only 7 ounces.  Unlike the soft touch rubber feel of the 10000+ above this one has a metal case.  A four LED display shows it's charge level.   For my personal needs this 6000 mAh is better than my old, larger 10,000 mAh battery pack.

Ventev Powercell 6000c Charger

The 6000c came with an integrated Apple Lightning connector and a 5v 2.4A (12w) output specification.  The unit is also available with a Mirco USB connector.  The cable on this connector is much more flexible than on the 10000+ above.  Note that this Lightning charge cable may not fit some iPhones or iPads while in their cases.   This charger works with my iPad Mini case, but the 1000+ above has a larger plug and would not fit. 

Ventev Powercell 6000c Review

It charged at about the same rate as other batteries I have of this type.  You will see above that next to the Micro USB charging port is a USB outlet with a rating of 5V, 1A(5w).  In my test the Powercell 6000c charged my iPad Mini from 25% back to full charge overnight with appx 25% power remaining in the charger.  Note that my WiFi only iPad Mini was turned on while it was charging.  For faster charging turn your device off or place it in airplane mode.

Pros:  Well built units.  Perform as expected.  

Cons:  Charging cables may not fit your Apple device while in a case.


Xcom Global and FreedomPop Mobile WiFi Hotspot Review

Xcom Global Mexico and USA WiFi Hotspots

No one likes to pay for expensive WiFi at hotels and resorts, but you do have some options.  I check out two mobile WiFi hotspots here, a "free" option from FreedomPop, and a prepaid daily hotspot rental with an unlimited data option from Xcom Global, which serves the USA and 179 countries.  (What is a WiFi hotspot?)

Xcom Global USA Mobile WiFi Hotspot

Xcom Global sent me a USA Mobile WiFi Hotspot to test out on my travels.  Xcom offers a daily rental service with unlimited data.  You order the hotspot online, and it’s delivered to you just before you depart.  It arrives in a carry case with a USB charger, cord, instructions, and a prepaid return envelope.  Printed on the outside of the hotspot are the WiFi SSID and the password that secures your connection.

Xcom Global USA Hotspot in Las Vegas.

I took the hotspot to Las Vegas, using it in two hotels, various restaurants, and in the Convention Center.  The biggest convenience was not having to worry about finding a WiFi connection I could trust.  I just turned on the Xcom hotspot, and all of my devices (phone, iPad and Chromebook) instantly had secure connections.  Speed was good.  Not crazy fast, but worked very well for maps, email, and basic web viewing.  Xcom says the data is unlimited, but bandwidth will be decreased or cutoff by the local wireless provider if you use a lot of data.  My connection was never fast enough to support streaming video or online backup.  When you are done with the device, return it in the provided prepaid shipping envelope.  Current cost is $14.95 per day.

FreedomPop WiFi Hotspot.

As part of my normal travel gear, I also took a FreedomPop WiFi hotspot to Vegas.  This can be a "free" service.  You buy the hardware, and then are offered lots of service upgrades beyond the free 500MB monthly option.  The catch is that free service is only a slower 3G connection, and I found coverage limited.  Last year I upgraded to a 3G/4G device which costs me $3.99 a month for 500MB of data.  I have also added the monthly unused data rollover service option for $3.99.  This allows me to accumulate up to 20GB of data.  If you go over your plan’s base data or rollover amount, you are charged on a per megabyte rate.  Plans and rates vary; check FreedomPop website

Over the years I have found the FreedomPop hotspot more than enough for my limited data usage while on the road.  The Xcom and the FreedomPop Internet connection speeds were similar.  If you are on a limited budget and watch your data usage very closely, this can be a good option.  I also use the FreedomPop as a backup Internet connection for my home.

Xcom Global Mobile WiFi Hotspot for Mexcio.

While watching my Twitter feed, @MurrayOnTravel, Xcom Global noticed I was headed to Mexico, so they sent me a review unit for that trip.  It included a Universal Plug Adapter/USB charger, cable, instructions, case, and return label.  When you travel from country to country with Xcom, they may give you different devices for specific countries.  I sure was glad I had this device at my first hotel in Puerto Vallarta.  It was a beautiful modern resort, their WiFi service provider was not always reliable.  I pulled out the Xcom Global hotspot, and I was online.  At first it was very slow, but I contacted Xcom tech support by email, and they suggested I follow the reset instructions provided with the unit’s instructions.  After that it worked flawlessly.  Details can be found on the Xcom Global website.

Xcom Global WiFi Hotspot overlooking beach at Iberostar Resort.

I did have one more problem, which was my fault.  I left the unit on a balcony chair in Mexico's hot mid-day sun after taking the above photo.  A few minutes later I lost my Internet connection.  The unit had overheated.  I put it in the mini-bar refrigerator and crossed my fingers.  Later that day it fired right up. 

Xcom Global Mobile WiFi Hotspot at the St. Regis Punta Mita Resort beach.

The Xcom Hotspot worked well in six different locations in Mexico's Riviera Nayarit region, which included some remote resort locations.  I would suggest international travelers look seriously at the Xcom Global service.  The pre-paid daily rental option is a real convenience, as is the unlimited data and the ability to support multiple devices.  For US residents traveling in the USA, other options might be a better choice if you watch your data usage closely.


Travelers Toothpaste Tablets from Archtek

Archtek Travelers Toothpaste Tablet

Is it time to ditch your small travel tube of toothpaste for a tablet?  Could his be better than toothpaste?  I was given a sample  Archtek Toothpaste Tablet recently and gave it a try.

The tablet is about the size of a regular aspirin, and is chewed in order to work.    It felt odd at first, not using toothpaste from a tube. I thought the tablet wasn't doing much, but as soon as I put my dry toothbrush into my mouth, it began to foam up using just my saliva. 

It provided an experience very similar to using toothpaste, and appears to have similar health benefits. (Note: no fluoride) It is smaller and lighter than a similar amount of traditional toothpaste.  Reduces concerns that might happen at TSA carry-on inspections and with security checkpoints worldwide. Also, using a tablet instead of a tube would stop virus and bacteria from being spread when sharing that tube with others.

Another possible advantage is that the wrapper around the tablet results in less trash than a used toothpaste tube. But it's clear that the wrapper is more easily recycled than a tube, which is contaminated.

 The negatives that I see are that you still need a toothbrush, while some travel toothbrushes have paste containers built into the handle. The tablet foams up without water, but you still need to rinse both your mouth and brush.

These tablets would be especially useful for hikers who need to travel light. They also would be healthier when your travel partner is sick, or when sharing a tube of toothpaste might not be a good idea.

For the everyday traveler, I think it's a toss up. If you want to try them out yourself, you can get them on  Amazon.com (see ad below).