Mophie has been around for quite some time creating products to keep our mobile gadgets fueled up and ready for action. So when my ZaggSparq 2.0 bit the bullet in a freak accident, I instead, took the opportunity to try out one of Mophie’s portable power supplies. The 6000mAh Juice Pack Powerstation Duo was the obvious choice because it’s the only comparable product to the ZaggSparq in Mophie’s lineup. It offers all the same power benefits at the same price. Of, course as one should expect from any competing product, there are a few design differences. The first of which, is that it’s not an all-in-one unit like the ZaggSparq, requiring a microUSB cable to recharge. Secondly, it’s a more compact design at 2.28 in. x 4.30 in. x 0.78 in. which should make it easier on pockets and small bags. The third, is that both USB ports are optimized for charging mobile devices whereas the ZaggSparq has only one optimized port. Does this work as well in day to day use? Let’s take a look.
The Powerstation Duo is easy to hold with one hand due to its compact form factor. Roughly the size and shape of a large bar of soap or two iPhone 4/4S stacked on top of each other makes it by far a much more portable solution than the ZaggSparq. Fitting into most any decently sized pocket, I was able to carry it in more situations without the need of a bag or having to look for clothing with extra large pockets. Delving a bit further into the design shows some thought must have gone into the device’s layout. Everything necessary for daily operation is located at one end of the device in an almost one-handed setup. A center mounted microUSB port to charge the device itself is flanked by two standard USB ports capable of simultaneously charging two devices up to 2.1 Amps each. If you forget which port is for charging what device just turn it over where each port is clearly marked by simple icons. To the left of the USB ports is a subtle battery icon, marking the power status button. When pressed one or more of the four LEDs located on the top of the device will light up displaying the amount of power remaining. When connected to a power source the Powerstation Duo will initially show the current amount of power and one LED will blink for about 4 seconds to indicate it is charging. When fully charged all four LEDs will light up without blinking when the power status button is pressed.
Out of the box the Powerstation Duo comes partially charged which can be used the moment you get it in your hands. Otherwise, plug it in to fully recharge so it’s ready when you are. Naturally, this is when you quickly discover that it’s supplied with only one accessory; a microUSB cable for charging via a computer. In order to charge it via a standard power outlet, a USB power adapter (such as the one supplied with most smartphones) is required. Although, at this point I think it’s a safe bet that most users have already armed themselves with extra chargers and cables so I can’t really view it as a deal breaker. But, if by some chance you don’t have one, then you should absolutely purchase one.
In daily use charging the Powerstation Duo proved to be a surprisingly liberating experience due it’s design. It’s not a chore to carry around a portable power supply when you don’t have to worry about how you’re going to charge it when you’re traveling around town. Having the freedom to use a computer or a wall outlet means it can be charged in a wider variety of places and situations; not just the one free power socket on a wall. As far as I have observed the iPad’s USB power adapter charges the Powerstation Duo quicker because of it’s higher 10 watt, 2.1 Amp output but any USB power adapter will do the job. If you can get a good 10w one, don’t hesitate, it’s well worth it for all your mobile devices.
Charging my iPhone and iPad as I usually do produced better results to the ZaggSpark. While both can charge my devices the same number of times the Powerstation Duo edged out the ZaggSpark by having both ports optimized for charging mobile devices. This made the charging process more efficient by a factor of two because more power went into charging both devices when they were connected simultaneously which contributed to the faster charging speeds. The ZaggSpark only has one optimized port so one device will always charge slower and less efficiently. It should also be taken into account that the amount of charges you get depends on the actual capacity of the phone’s battery and how much you let it drain before charging. Tablets though, contain much larger batteries than mobile phones so expecting to fully charge a tablet’s battery that has been depleted lower than around 70-75% may be a little presumptuous. Also remember that all devices charge faster and more efficiently when not being used turned off.
Pass-thru charging is not supported with the Powerstation Duo but it’s also not necessary. If you have to charge your mobile device and your portable power supply, only one will be charged at a time if they are connected to each other while also connect to a power source. Pass-thru charging charges the device first and the charger second. So your mobile device would be better served simply by plugging it straight into a power source first and the portable power supply afterwards. Also I have noticed power hungry devices like tablets tend to totally drain a portable power supplies and prevents pass-thru charging from working all together. So I can understand why this feature is not implemented and shouldn’t be missed by many.
There really isn’t much else I could ask for from the Powerstation Duo. The only drawbacks would be that it doesn’t support pass-thru and it isn’t supplied with its own USB power adapter. Other than that I feel Mophie has put together a solid product that performs well while looking good with it’s clean, well-thought out design. Lots of power, optimized dual charging, and excellent build quality packed in to a compact form factor that’s light in the pockets makes this a fantastic portable power solution for any person on the go. For all these reasons Mophie’s Powerstation Duo has become my portable charging solution of choice. So go check one out and judge for yourself.