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Sunday, June 14, 2009

It’s a Case… No It’s a Battery Life Extender… No, It’s Both!

The latest fad (or should I say) trend in IPhone and IPod Accessories is a “protective case” that doubles as a battery-life extender. At press time several companies offer variations on this gadget freak’s forward-thinking technological no-brainer. At first blush the idea of a case that is also a battery-life extender sounds like pure genius. Who wouldn’t want an accessory that offers protection as well as providing, in most cases, double the battery life for the notoriously energy hungry IPod or IPhone.
But as is often the case, “the proof is in the pudding” – a quick review of the pluses and minuses of this “dream” Accessory will hopefully put this new-fangled twist on an age-old problem into perspective. Everyone who owns an IPod or an IPhone wants to get the maximum battery life out of every charge. This category started as an updated on the more versatile detachable Reserve Back-up Battery produced by a number of manufacturers (most notably Griffin’s PowerJolt Reserve and Kensington’s Mini-Battery Pack) which not only serve as a basic USB recharging tool for the device, but a detachable battery. The problem with these back-up batteries was that they added a chunky battery to the bottom of the device – not exactly the elegant solution sought out by IPhone owners.
The next logical step was to produce a Reserve Back-up Battery that doubled as a protective case. Several companies have jumped on this bandwagon. One of the first items out of the gate, designed for both the IPod touch and the IPhone was Mophie’s Juice Pack. The soft rubberized protective case fits snuggly over the IPod or IPhone and conceals a lithium polymer rechargeable battery. It is designed to double the run time of the device between charges. It does add 3 ounces to the overall weight of the device. One minor disadvantage is the inability to sync the device with the Juice Pack in place. A new Juice Pack is being marketed for the new IPhone 3G. The company has also announced a second-generation “works-with-IPhone” external battery case for the IPhone 3G dubbed the Juice Pack Air. It is thinner and weighs less and will be able to sync to ITunes.
Case-Mate’s IPhone 3G FUEL Battery Pack is another option. It works as a case and a battery life extender, and it can sync the device while it charges. Case-Mate’s Q&A page notes that this case can also be used the original IPhone (the 1G IPhone is a few millimeters wider than the 3G)– it will be a snug fit – but according to Case-Mate it should work.
The verdict is not in on this new category of double-duty gadgets. Some people have reported that signal loss is an issue with some of the products. But for most people the pluses outweigh the minuses. Nevertheless, a slew of new Accessories will flood the market after the mid-June introduction of the new IPhone 3G and IPod touch.

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