by Bill Palmer
Kensington’s PowerLift battery dock isn’t the first product of its kind, but it does offer a different take on the idea. Most battery docks operate under the same premise: it folds flat enough to be used as an (oversized) snap-on battery for your iPhone 4 or 4S, but excels when you fold it open. It then forms a dock which props up your iPhone while recharging it. The 1200 mAh battery in the PowerLift will only give your iPhone a bit more than a fifty percent battery boost, but it’s enough to allow you to leave your fully charged iPhone on your nightstand overnight, for instance, and expect it to still have a full charge the next morning. And while at your desk, it can be connected to your computer for recharging via USB while also using it to recharge and dock your iPhone.
Where the PowerLift differs from similar competing products is that while most of them include a USB port and separate cable, Kensington has embedded a short USB cable into the PowerLift directly, which tucks into the product itself. Depending on how you plan to use this product, you’ll view the built in cable as either the product’s best or worst feature. On the one hand, it makes things more portable as you don’t need to carry a cable with it and you can recharge it anytime, anywhere you’ve got access to a USB port. On the other hand, the three inch cable means you’ll need to place the PowerLift that close to your computer’s USB port when in use. That may not be the answer if you keep your laptop on a riser or if your computer’s only USB ports are on the front of the minitower.
In essence, the viability of the PowerLift comes down to how you’re going to use it and how you’re going to recharge it. As with so many other of Kensington’s power products, this one is geared toward people who like to travel light.
Price: $49 • Kensington.com
External iPhone batteries which snap onto its bottom are nothing new, and we’ve also seen such products which can be folded into the shape of a self-supporting stand. But the new PowerLift from Kensington takes the concept to a new level. A metal leg kicks out to allow the iPhone to be positioned at different angles. The dock is wide open enough that an iPhone inside a thin-ish case can still be docked with the case on. And perhaps most intriguingly, the PowerLift has a built-in USB cable for the sake of recharging its battery, along with syncing your iPhone to your computer. The product is a traveler’s delight, and the whole thing can also be folded up nicely enough such that it can be used as if it were a simple snap-on battery for those times your iPhone is in your hand. Most impressively, its $49 price tag is in line with those simple snap-on batteries of yore. As such, the Kensington PowerLift is a Beatweek Best of Show winner at CES 2011. And unlike most of the new products which just debuted at CES, this one is already available for pre-order.