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I originally purchased a "Mk1" Power Monkey some years back. With the plethora of gadgets that I now carry around, I was finding it harder and harder to keep them charged. I needed something that had its own battery but that could be charged from the mains or USB and had all the right connectors for my iPod Nano, PSP, Sony Ericsson phone (now an HTC Desire HD) as well as my wife's Samsung phone and our digital camera. The Power Monkey seemed like the perfect solution to start with.
There were three downsides that I could see from the outset:
1. From the shape of the unit itself, it is clear that there is a rechargable AA battery within. This being the case, I knew how much power such a battery could hold - not a great deal. 2. There was no way of knowing the level of charge remaining within the unit. 3. It wasn't particularly robust, it scratched easily and looked shabby.
Still, that being the case, it still have a great selection of connectors and I was quite content with it. The bag that you use to store it was too small to hold it all but I made do. After about 9 months, the cable started to break within and I couldn't get a regular, strong connection. Instead of trying to return it to the shop, I had seen that Power Monkey had made a newer version, the "eXplorer" that also came with a solar panel. I bit the bullet and forked out £45 in Cotswold Outdoors in Keswick while on holiday.
Immediately, I was impressed. The casing was rubberised, there were 'splashproof' covers on the connectors and it didn't scratch. There is also now a lovely, neon-blue power meter on the side that shows how much juice is left within. There seems to be stiil, however, a rechargeable AA battery within the unit but I am quite sure (although can't say for sure as the previous unit had no power meter) that this one lasts longer once charged. It comes with the same huge array of connectors but if there is one you need that is not there, simply call the company (Power Traveller) and they send you one out, usually free of charge. On a boat trip on the Norfolk Broads, I had the wrong connector for my phone (brought wrong USB connector) and they shipped one out within a day. Excellent customer service, top quality.
I soon had a chance to test the solar panel. As some of you may have read on another reivew of mine, I also have the Freeloader with its in-built solar panel. My fear for that is its robustness. Not so with the Power Monkey eXplorer. The solar panel (approx the same size as the Freeloader) is rubberised and has a strong hinge in the middle. The cable is tough and well-made. The hinge not only allows you to shut and protect the panels but it also allows you to angle the panels towards the sun / light source far easier than with the Freeloader. From completely dead, I have charged the Power Monkey to full inside 3 hours of bright sunshine on a window sill.
The biggest drawback is still the AA battery within, however. Despite it being better than its predecessor, it still suffers from the same problems as AA rechargables. Namely, the more you recharge it, the weaker it becomes overall. Of course, I could be wrong. It may NOT be an AA battery but it certainly looks like one from the outside. I have yet to suffer from this issue, so I am only speculating, but over time I may well see this. I have found that directly plugging the solar panel in to the phone / device is often better and speedier in the long run.
So how much power 'does' it hold? Well, I have fully charged my PSP (from dead) and half of my HTC Desire HD with one, fully charged Power Monkey. It will easily charge my Desire HD on its own from scratch, with a little left over. I would have to really get in to the techinical weeds to try and figure out exactly how much that is. I'm content with that though.
I keep a Power Monkey eXplorer in my overnight bag always. It's great for emergencies and holds its charge for months and months once fully recharged. It is reliable, robust and with such an array of connectors is always going to keep you juiced.
I recommend them to everyone these days. I appreciate that I recommended the Freeloader in my other review, and perhaps I should have run a direct comparison (Power Monkey would win) but I recommend this FAR MORE.
As a company, I think Power Monkey take the lead. They have a great range of units to suit all devices right up to the Power Gorilla and Solar Gorilla for laptops. A++
Very many thanks to both of you.
I am enjoying this actually. If nothing else it gives me a chance to revisit that creative, imaginative and detailed portion of the brain that I've not seen since school. :D