The nice folks at RAVpower asked me to review their Luster Series Power Bank, a portable battery charger for USB devices with built-in torch. It’s the size of tube of Polo mints and packs a 3000mAh battery. I’ve previously bought RAVpower’s 5-in-1 FileHub device which was really useful when in Dublin for copying photos from my DSLR camera to my iPhone to upload, and you can read my review of that here.
There’s a choice of colours available – silver, black, gold, pink and blue. The power bank’s case is brushed metal, and is surprisingly light considering that there’s a battery inside. It’s certainly lighter than a Mini MagLite, and a bit shorter. It feels well-built and solid.
The torch bulb – a single LED – is at one end, and at the end is a standard USB port for plugging your devices in. Alongside is a smaller micro-USB port for recharging the internal battery, and a button for switching the torch on and off.
The power bank’s torch is impressive. On full power it lit up a pitch-black small room with no problems. There’s also a half-power setting, and then a strobe setting which flashes the LED rapidly. You can cycle through these three settings by pressing the power button. According to the manual, the torch can last for up to 120 hours when the battery is fully charged, providing five days of continuous light if needed.
As for charging other devices, you can plug in anything that has a USB cable. A USB to micro-USB cable is provided, mainly for the purposes of charging the power bank unit itself, but this will work with most non-Apple smartphones. Apple users like me will need to plug in a 30-pin iPod Dock cable or a Lightning cable to use it, which isn’t included.
Output is 1 Amp, according to the manual. This means it won’t be as quick as the 2 Amp wall chargers that usually come with devices these days, and you may find that tablets won’t charge. My iPad didn’t seem to complain when I plugged it into the power bank – normally it would display ‘Not charging’ when there’s not enough current – but it was already fully-charged so I can’t be sure. The manual states that the power bank, when it is fully charged, can in turn fully recharge an depleted iPhone 5. Whilst some larger battery packs will charge phones several times over, they’re much bigger than this. Charging from 45% back up to 100% took under an hour so it’s still very quick.
My only major criticism is that it’s not obvious when the power bank is fully charged. A red LED illuminates when the power bank is charging up but I don’t think this changes colour when it’s done. You’ll therefore need to make sure it’s regularly topped up if you use it often, otherwise you may end up with a flat power bank and a flat phone.
The power bank normally retails for £40, but they’re currently just £9 on Amazon, which is fantastic value for money. I’m happy to give it a strong endorsement.