Review: OUTXE Rugged (camping) Power Bank
I seem to have become synonymous with various things, one being smartphone imaging and another being power bank reviews, with the flexible and future-proof Lumsing Glory P2 Plus being the latest and best. Yet the OUTXE (OUTdoor Xtreme Energy, apparently!) Rugged Power Bank offers a totally different USP - it's fully waterproof (to a maximum of IP67) and pitches itself as the ultimate accessory for the outdoor enthusiast, with a seven LED 200 hour floodlight that's perfect for camping or emergencies.
In terms of form factor, this is pretty standard - a slender rectangle, around half an inch thick and encased in an aluminium tube. And with 10000mAh (at 3.7V) of Li-Ion cells inside and USB Type A output (at 2A) and microUSB input (ditto). So far so boring.
But each end is enclosed in rubberised plastic and with tasteful red accents. And then you notice that one end has a large translucent panel - I've seen power banks with a single LED 'emergency torch' before, but never one with seven high intensity LEDs that can light up a room. Or, more likely for the target market, the inside of a tent. In fact, this gadget is just as much a microUSB rechargeable floodlight as a power bank.
There's a 'dim' mode too, for gentle lighting through the long (tent) night. The official specifications quote 200 hours of light from one charge, in this mode, or 50 hours in the full (bright) floodlight mode, which is very impressive. Add in charging a smartphone a couple of times and the PCPB10000 should be about right for a long (3 day) weekend's camping, serving up all light and power needs.
There's also an SOS mode, plus a constant blinking mode (not sure what this serves), all accessed by pressing the main power button a number of times - this also doubles as a check on the status of the internal battery, using the traditional four status LED system.
But there's more, of course. You'll notice the chunky rubber flaps over the only two ports. When actually in use (i.e. charging something else or being charged itself), with one or both flaps open, the OUTXE unit is still IP54 ratified, so if the tent blows open and rain gets in or even if actually used in the rain then you should be OK. This itself is a step up from traditional power banks.
But with the two rubber plugs pushed into place over the USB Type A and microUSB ports, the OUTXE PCPB10000 becomes IP 67 certified, i.e. dust and sand won't get in, the unit could be accidentally dunked in liquid and it would come out without harm. Now, there's the usual caveat wherein this only applies if the flaps are perfectly inserted and pushed all the way in, but in real world use all these IP numbers simply mean that you can take this out in your hiking rucksack or on your bike and it doesn't matter if you hit inclement weather, you won't have to worry about water getting into this particular piece of electronics.
With the tethered plugs out, the out (left, above) and in (right) ports are exposed, each capable of handling 2A. Which should cover charging basics - there's no pretense here at Quick Charge compatibility, Power Delivery, and so on - just a solid charge into anything you can hook up via USB.
The USP here then is to have the light and charge storage in a robust unit that's durable in an outdoor setting. And that makes it very interesting overall.
This OUTXE accessory is available from Amazon UK currently at £26, which is decent value (you're paying a little extra for the water-proofing, which is absolutely fair enough), though apparently a USB Type C version is in the works, due for release in July 2017 - now that will be something jump on for many people reading this and wanting to be fully future (as well as weather) proof!
PS. This is also available on Amazon USA here.
Published by Steve Litchfield at 7:13 UTC, January 18th