On paper, Ecosol Solar Technologies' Powerstick is the perfect compromise between the need to charge devices fast and energy-efficiently. This USB-powered device (no, it doesn't use the sun) reduces wasteful "vampire power" by cutting off power to devices it's fully charged. However, the Powerstick runs out of juice a little too fast.
At 1.4 ounces, the Powerstick is lighter than any of the other half-dozen mobile chargers in our office. It's also the least attractive: at about 4 inches long and more than half an inch thick, it's chunky, despite its featherlight weight. The eight-bar LED is useful for gauging battery life, but its gas-pump icon--complete with a red "E" for empty and a white "F" for full--is an eyesore.
The Powerstick has an integrated USB connection; to charge it, plug it into your notebook (it doesn't come with an AC adapter). When you're ready to charge a device, disconnect the Powerstick from your notebook and plug in one of the nine interchangeable tips, which work with iPods, iPhones, BlackBerrys, mini-USB devices, and devices by LG, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, and Sony Ericsson. That's three more thanIogear's GearJuice Mobile Pocket Power($49.95) offers, but then again, Ecosol doesn't sell additional tips. Although Ecosol lists only compatible phones on its Web site, the company says it works with other brands and supports 90 percent of mobile devices, including MP3 players and digital cameras. By September, the company said, this number should be closer to 100 percent. We were able to use the Powerstick to revive our dead Toshiba gigabeat MP3 player. According to Ecosol, the Powerstick has a life cycle of more than 1,000 charges.
Where's the Charge?
Ecosol claims the Powerstick takes 90 minutes to charge to 90 percent; indeed, it took 1 hour and 27 minutes to bring our unit from one bar to eight. That's less than half the time it takes Mobile Pocket Power to recharge. It recharges devices at a decent speed, as well: The Powerstick brought our fifth-generation iPod from a single red bar of battery life to a full charge in about an hour and a half. That's not bad, but when it finished charging, the Powerstick was down to three out of eight battery bars, which means we wouldn't have been able to charge a second device fully.
At other times, the Powerstick's short endurance left us with half-charged gadgets: When we plugged it into our BlackBerry 8820, for instance, the fully charged Powerstick brought it from one bar of battery life (out of five) to three over the course of 49 minutes. After that, though, it stopped delivering power. Mobile Pocket Power, on the other hand, fully revived a near-dead BlackBerry in about an hour and a half. It seems that the Powerstick was on its way to recharging our phone in a reasonable time but ran out of steam too soon.
At $69.95, Ecosol's Powerstick costs twenty dollars more than Iogear's GearJuice Mobile Pocket Power, which we liked better. While it offers more tips out of the box, as well as the reassurance that you're conserving energy, the Powerstick either runs out of juice too soon or has too little power left once it's done.