Having enough power to do what you want with a mobile device without being near an AC outlet is a constant struggle. Some people combat this by trying to conserve power by turning off WiFi, background tasks and things like that, but I’m more of a “if I need it, it stays on” kind of guy. That does mean that even the 2000mAh extended battery on my Galaxy S II isn’t 100% guaranteed to last an entire day of very heavy use, not to mention I have a couple of tablets and various other devices that haven’t been blessed with a user changeable battery. Luckily there are solutions to that problem, and Proporta’s TurboCharger 5000 external battery pack is one of them.

Specifications

The TurboCharger 5000′s name sort of gives away the main specification for this battery: its capacity. This is a 5000mAh battery, while there are also 3400mAh and 7000mAh variants available. Energy loss and voltage conversion messes a bit with how many of these mAh makes it into your device, but depending on the device you should get 2-3 full recharges for a smartphone and somewhere around one recharge on a tablet – the iPad 3′s ridiculous battery not included.

The capacity of this battery is not the only indication that it’s as much a tablet battery as a phone charger, though. Unlike many, many external batteries out there, this one is actually able to deliver a charge that will put tablets into charging mode. You see, it features two USB ports for charging, one low and one high rate port. The high rate port charges at up to 1.5A, which while still short of the 2A that most tablet AC chargers deliver, is more than enough to make the tablet happy and charge at a reasonable rate. I’ve had various external batteries before, some rather new, and it pains me to see outputs of 500, 700, or even 1000mA on products that are being sold in this world of tablets. It’s great to see that at least some companies are making products suitable for bigger products.

As for compatibility, the TurboCharger 5000 has three ports: the two full sized USB ports mentioned above, and a miniUSB port. The miniUSB port is used for charging the battery pack, while the two USB ports are for charging devices off the battery. Full sized USB ports means that you can basically charge anything USB off it, but some companies use resistors on the data pins to trigger charging, meaning that the devices themselves are at fault for not charging from all USB ports. Included with this battery is a retractable USB cable and various connector heads to put on the end, which means that you don’t have to worry about support for devices that there are included connector heads for.

There are however many devices that don’t fit any of the included heads, like my Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus. Using its included USB cable with this battery seems like a logical solution, but because of the charge activation issue mentioned above, that’s not the case. This is 100% Samsung’s fault, not Proporta’s, but it’s still something you have to deal with. Luckily, chances are that charge adapters will exist, you just need to be aware of what the problem is and take steps to fix it. I don’t really mind proprietary connectors as long as they’re more robust than those idiotic microUSB connectors, but this charge activation system is something I wish manufacturers would stop doing.

For the record, one of the included cable tips is a miniUSB plug that you can use to charge the battery itself.

Design

I get slightly sentimental when I see the TurboCharger 5000, because it’s not the first Proporta external battery I’ve had. Back in the stone age (four years ago), I dragged around one of the TurboCharger’s ancestors in order to power my then awesome Nokia N800. Being the paranoid backup nut I am, I still have pictures from back then:

Fast forward four years and you have this:

While the current TurboCharger 3400 is technically the direct successor to the one in this picture, the similarities to the 5000 are also striking, and you can’t help but notice that even something as “anti Moore’s law” as external batteries have gone through changes in the last few years. The new version is arguably more badass looking, with its rubberized shell and black matte finish making it simply look more modern.

Like its predecessor, the 5000′s ports are located on one of the short sides, with the miniUSB input port in the middle of the two output ports. On top you have the battery’s only button as well as LED indicators that show both remaining battery level when discharging and charge status while charging. The control button is used to turn on charging when you plug in something to charge, and while charging, it can be used to turn the indicator LEDs on and off.

All in all I quite like the design of the 5000. External battery packs are a bit weird in that their seemingly limited potential for uniqueness have lead some companies to over-engineer them on the design front, which just ends up looking out of place. Personally, I’d take subtle details like the 5000′s rubberized, matte texture over something that looks like it came from space any day.

In use

There isn’t really a whole lot to say about the functionality of an external battery pack. I’ve already mentioned its ability to charge high capacity devices like tablets, and aside from that, it’s an external battery pack: It lets you charge your devices from it and prolong the time before you have to get back to an AC outlet. It’s not rocket science, but it’s a heck of a useful accessory. I’ve already had a use for it on a couple of occasions, and a visiting friend of mine even borrowed it to charge his iPhone in his pocket while we were at the movies.

Conclusion

I’ve been using various external battery packs for years, and I always feel naked without a charged backup battery around. It’s not that I use them that often, it’s more that they’re invaluable when you actually do need then. Be it for emergency power during a blackout, a backup solution when you forget to charge your device and have to run out the door, or for things like camping trips where you don’t have access to an AC outlet, everyone should have an external battery like this just in case.

As far as the TurboCharger 5000 in particular goes, I love it. It’s sleek, minimalistic, and having full sized USB ports with up to 1.5A output puts it ahead of many of its competitors. I was pleasantly surprised at the price too, as the 5000 is currently going for £35 ($55). That’s a good price for a decent 5000mAh external battery pack even in the US, and here in Europe where Proporta is located, it’s simply a phenomenal price.

The Proporta TurboCharger 5000 can be purchased directly from Proporta for £35 ($55).