Top positive review
103 people found this helpful
Great product, if you can get one that works
on 6 November 2007
Well, it looks like eventually this will be a good product, when I get one that works. I got one that had been double-checked by powertraveller after getting two apparently non-functioning units.
I'd recommend one, they're very good, now that the quality control issues appear to be over. The solar recharging appears to be actually practical, in the west of England on a cloudy Autumn day, it appears to have recharged about 25% despite being behind glass (which makes a surprising difference) in a west-facing window rather than south-facing (so only gets direct sun for a few hours).
The leads that come with it are very good indeed and all use the same jack plug for input, so I've since gone back and ordered lots of extras because you can use the power monkey to recharge one device, on a sunny day you can plug the panel into another device (I charged my mobile directly from the solar panel), use the USB lead to recharge a third if you have a USB port handy, and even recharge a fourth using the mains charger. The extra leads are reasonably priced and there's a very extensive range.
I'll just quickly side-track off to talk about the leads a little more;
Once you have a few of the USB retractable leads you start realising that you can replace all your multitude of phone/PDA/ipod chargers with one USB hub, and just carry USB leads around with you because you can use ports at work, at friends houses, buy a hub in another country if travelling etc. My ipod PSU with a four-port hub can now charge my ipod, phone and PDA. I have one of the leads hanging off the back of a Nintendo Wii in standby mode which is now the downstairs recharger for an ipod, a Nokia N770, another spare mobile phone, a Nintendo Gameboy Advance, a Nintendo DS and even a 4 AA battery charger. That's six mains rechargers I no longer need to use, 8 if you include my PDA and main mobile.
I think the leads are worthy of being a product in their own right, they're easily the best I've come across so far and have the most extensive range of tips. You get a good selection with the powermonkey with many more tips available from powertraveller, it's worth thinking about the potential of the leads on their own, don't just think about using them with the powermonkey. If you travel a lot, using these leads with a car cigarette lighter to USB converter (readily available), a mains USB converter (ditto), a USB hub, or a computer, you can recharge just about anywhere you're likely to want to. One of the powermonkey USB leads and a selection of tips is all you'd need, although a few extra of the USB leads will allow simultaneous recharging of several devices from a hub. You can buy the leads separately from powertraveller, on their web page go to the powermonkey classic and select "monkey nuts" and order "extra" tips and at least one USB retractable lead.
Right, back to the powermonkey;
One gripe (other than quality control) is that the powermonkey won't charge a device while the powermonkey itself is being charged, as soon as it detects a charge coming into the charging port it shuts off the output current. This means you can't plug it into your phone/ipod/whatever and then connect it to the charger to charge them both overnight. This is a real shame and something they could easily do; charge the power monkey then once charged, pass all power through to the attached device. It doesn't do that however.
It comes with a useful velcro bag and a zippered semi-rigid box that are worth having, and the whole package seems well put together. Only the inability to recharge while attached to a charger, and of course my issues with getting a working unit, stop it from being a five-star buy. The excellent leads almost make up for the issues I've had.
I also have a freeloader. It's rubbish, total rubbish (see my review for it), so if you are thinking of spending the extra money (3x the price) then this unit is worth the extra provided you get one that works. The freeloader's leads aren't anywhere near as flexible as the powermonkey's leads so don't help to make up for the unit's weaknesses.