As someone who travels quite a bit for work and is always hunting for a power point to keep my various juice-hungry devices alive, power banks have long been a part of my work/life survival kit Must Haves. The thing is, most power banks are good for keeping my phone afloat and that’s about it. What about those hours stranded in an airport due to delays, when all the power points are gone, the laptop battery is dwindling and I still have three stories to file before bed? Cygnett has an answer. It may not be precisely the answer you’re looking for but it is an answer.
There’s quite a bit going on with the Cygnett Portable Powerbank. That 20,000mAh battery is going to be a life safer for anyone who either lives on their laptop or else has an array of devices that frequently require charging. In a single charge, I was able to bring my laptop, a 2017 model tablet/laptop hybrid back from about 2% to a full charge with enough juice left over to not only do it a second time but also top up my iPhone 6 from about 40%. If that made you sit bolt upright, know that we fundamentally understand each other.
It becomes even more valuable if you have multiple smaller devices that require charging throughout the day or while in transit. I was able to charge two phones, two different pairs of Bluetooth headphones, three smaller power banks and my Nintendo Switch off this thing and I barely made a dent in it.
This makes the device perfect for the professional in-transit who struggles with the modern problem of always needing to charge devices but never being able to find a power point. It’s also priced so sensibly I didn’t believe it at first. The Cygnett 20,000mAh Portable Power Bank retails at very reasonable $169.95 AUD. When Cygnett sent the unit over to the office for me to play with, I thought for sure I’d find it sitting at the $300 AUD mark. A hundred and seventy bucks is a song for this kind of power.
So, basically, perfect. Cygnett have found their way into a niche market with a userbase that will be forever grateful for such a useful device.
There’s one major problem with the Cygnett Portable Power Bank though and, if you know anything about batteries, you can probably guess what it is. If you don’t know anything about batteries, don’t worry, you’ll know what it is as soon as you pick it up.
It is heavy. It is so damned heavy. It’s heavy to the point where you start to debate the merits of the device’s portability because it feels like it’s weighing you down. For professionals that spend a lot of time in airports, managing carry-on weight is critical and the Cygnett Portable Power Bank is going to eat almost half a kilo by itself. Some of you might be thinking, “David, it’s 475g, its really not that bad.” To that, I would recommend you try lugging this thing around with you all day and see how you feel at the end.
I took the device with me to cover PAX Australia 2017, an event at which I typically run out of battery halfway through the day. The media room is fine, there’s usually outlets available but I still have to do everything one at a time. I took the Power Bank with me on the first day hoping that it would help me deal with some of those problems. I use an over-the-shoulder messenger bag when I’m working an event. Travelling light is a must for covering events because you’re constantly on the move. So I’ve got my laptop, my phone, cables for all of them, a notebook, pens and my Nintendo Switch for the commute. Adding the weight of the battery alone began to really cause my shoulder to ache as the day wore on. While the Cygnett did its job and charged all my gear while I filed from the show on Day 1, I ended up leaving it at home the remaining two days and trying to make do with my smaller batteries.
This trade off of Performance versus Weight is, for me, what’s holding the device back. Were it able to pack the same level of performance with a fraction of the weight, I’d be using this thing 100% of the time. There’s no doubt in my mind about that. And it’s perhaps unfair of me to level this criticism at the device — to pack a 20,000mAh battery into a casing as small this as this is not to be sniffed at. It”s just that all that juice comes at a price — batteries like this, as dimensionally compact as you can make them now, are still really heavy.
In the end, I really like what Cygnett is trying to do here. In my line of work, a device like this is exactly what I’m looking for. If only it didn’t make my shoulder feel like it was going to fall off when I put it in my bag, it would be perfect.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
Highlights: Unbelievable charge; Compact, minimalist aesthetic; Very reasonably priced
Lowlights: Weighs about as much as a baby rhino
Price: $169.99 AUD