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Tylt battery pack ready to stuff a well-heeled stocking

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Tylt Powerplant doubles up.

One of the bennies of going to events like Pepcom’s Holiday Spectacular is that people give you free stuff to review. I walked out with a Tylt Powerplant rechargeable battery pack, a simple device which turned out to perform pretty much as claimed.

About the size of a computer mouse, it stores enough juice to recharge a mobile phone, at least once and probably a couple of times depending on the size of your battery. You can use either the attached USB connector or plug in your own, or do both at once. It put out enough current to recharge my iPad 2 from flat to half full.

It doesn’t come with a wall charger, so you have to use one of your own. That requires some attention to detail – it needs a minimum of 1 amp (5 watts) to fully charge up, and it seemed to be happier with a full 2 amps (10 watts). I tried the 700 milliamp charger that came with my phone and only got about half a charge in. But it works fine at 1 amp or better. Be careful, though, plugging it into USB ports on computers or hubs – I had mixed results.

On the downside, the rubber dust cover doesn’t fit quite right, raising questions of quality control. For some unfathomable reason, the Powerplant comes with a USB cable marked “this is not a data cable”. Which earned it a quick toss into the trash – the last thing I need is to grab a connector that’s only half wired.

It’s proved useful, rescuing my phone after I forgot to plug it in one evening. With all the USB chargeable things I carry, it’s worth the additional weight. Whether it’s worth its $70 street price depends on how mission critical your gizmos are. For an event like CES where my iPad, keyboard, phone and camera have to make it through 16 hour days, I can see a payback. For every day use it might be overkill but, as I discovered, it makes a fondly remembered gift.