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VINE VOICEon 19 November 2013
[I must disclose that I was offered this product free of charge from the manufacturer, in exchange for a review]

As a smartphone user, as well as someone who cannot leave the house without her iPod, I had been considering the purchase of some kind of battery pack for a while. So when EC Technology offered me a choice of products for review, I picked this Power Bank in view of using it during my next holiday in a couple of weeks' time.

In terms of general appearance, the power bank is described as `lipstick size'. Well, I don't know what kind of lipstick the geeks at EC Techonlogies use, because the item is definitely bigger, and heavier, than a lipstick. However, it's still extremely portable and handbag sized - the kind of thing you can fit into an internal pocket of your handbag, manbag (for equal opportunities!) or coat pocket. It comes with a nice little pouch to store all the various attachments (more on those shortly).

As the packaging did not contain any instructions (which were later provided to me by the manufacturer), despite being a fairly `technical' person, I initially struggled to work out how to use it. The torch button doesn't look like a `button' as it's flush with the surface of the rear of the torch. However, when I did finally find it, I thought the torch was very bright and probably very useful (a torch is ALWAYS useful).

When I eventually figured out how to charge the pack - you need to attach a mini-USB `head' to one end of the double end lead provided - it didn't take too long to do so. You can charge it via the USB port of a computer, but also, if you have a USB adaptor plug (the kind provided for smartphones, Kindles etc), you can also attach the USB adapter lead to that and charge it via the mains.

To then charge one of your gadgets, you attach one of the adaptors provided to one end of the double-ended cable and connect that into the gadget, and then plug in the other end (the standard USB connectors) to the bank. Your gadget will immediately start to charge. I did a test run on my iPhone 5s which was 34% charged - it took about 2 hours and 15 minutes to take it all the way up to 100%; not the fastest charging time, of course, but still a very good solution for when you are away from a power source and your battery is running low.

I noticed that various people on the Amazon US reviews of this product complained about the absence of an iPhone 5s adapter. To the manufacturer's defence, Apple is notorious for not licensing its technology to third parties, and therefore, they are unable to provide an adapter for the iPhone 5s. However, if you just take your 5s lead with you, you can still charge the phone by attaching the USB end of your lead into the power bank, and the `Lighting' end into the phone itself. Just be aware that, initially, the USB lead appears quite hard to remove from the power bank - you have to really yank it out. But after a couple of uses, it gets easier.

This is overall a very good, portable product which is being marketed at an extremely competitive price. There might be more sophisticated power banks on the market which will charge your smartphones, iPods and other gadgets more quickly. A lot of these battery banks are, however, the size and weight of bricks. If you want something light and portable to always carry with you when you are out and about, so that you never run the risk of your smartphone running out of juice, this is definitely a product worth considering and one that offers great value for money.
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