Have you ever had a situation where your phone’s battery was dying and your portable charger was giving up the ghost as well? At that point, unless you’ve got something up your sleeve, your phone’s going to be dead and your fear of missing out will finally be realized when you miss that big call, text, and Angry Birds update all in one go. Fear no more – the Eton BoostTurbine with a hand crank backup power generator is here.

Eton BoostTurbine 4000 crank extended

I have not been able to metric this properly, but the claim is that one minute of cranking the crank gives about four minutes of average cell phone talk time. It’s pretty important to remember, though, that cell phone talk time does not include the massive power draw your phone goes through when booting up from a dead/powered off state. My HTC EVO 4G LTE seems to generally blow through about 7% of the battery on a fresh boot, my EVO 3D claims 5%. So getting your phone charged before it dies will go a long way in not having to crank the thing.

When you’re not wanting to sit around and crank the thing, the Eton Portable Chargers have a built-in rechargeable battery that you can power from USB. You can even augment the battery’s charge while it’s charging if you feel the desire to sit and crank the handle for a while.

During my hand cranking test, I could not keep up with the phone’s ability to draw power, and as such after a few minutes of cranking the battery had become drained and shut itself off, and my cell phone didn’t register a change one way or the other on mAh left. These were unfortunately pretty short tests, due to me having the flu and not being particularly able to do much.

The BoostTurbine will charge your devices at up to 2.1amp, so you should be able to charge most tablets without getting the “device not charging” error from a too-low output.

The BoostTurbine comes with a USB to MicroUSB cable that can be used to charge the BoostTurbine, or you can flip it around and charge most smartphones. Any device that charges 2.1amps and below should be able to charge off the USB port however.

Eton BoostTurbine 4000 Eton BoostTurbine 4000 Eton BoostTurbine 4000

The one complaint I have about this charger is that, although I really like the idea, my hand was cramping after a couple of minutes of cranking. Then again, the crank is only a last ditch charging effort, and to make the thing comfortable would have involved adding size to it. The charging noise on the crank is also not particularly quiet.

I also very much dislike having to press a button to start a charge, I dislike this especially with the BoostTurbine because, if I’m cranking and the phone is pulling juice when it bottoms the BoostTurbine’s charge out, the charging stops and there’s no indication that it did, other than you might notice on your phone that the charging indicator is off.

It’s a great idea, a pretty reasonable price for what I’ve found, and would make a perfect addition to an emergency kit as trying to charge a cell phone or tablet in post-emergency conditions can be a daunting task.

The Eton BoostTurbine 2000 is available from Amazon for 29.99, and the BoostTurbine 4000 is available for $79.99. I’m not sure about the price disparity; the BoostTurbine 1000 is even more expensive than the 2000 on Amazon.