Power bank that brings USB-C funtionality to the market, in familiar form factor and appealing design.
But does USB-C bring enough to the table to make it worthwhile investment?
Is X-TRON technically possible?
Power banks represent huge market that continues to grow rapidly, and with any market growth, cost of individual components begins to drop and their availability becomes commonplace. Today it is possible to order custom power-bank in china and have it manufactured and shipped without much work done by the ordering party. This is what we believe is happening here. Although we do not imply that process of manufacturing consumer product is simple, we focus on value that each product brings to end users and X-TRON only brings USB-C as new feature, otherwise product is based on tested technology seen in products by Limefuel which happens to be another crowd-sourced power bank some years back.
Is USB-3.1-C practical?
Introduction of new cable for communication and power is nice but it faces same hurtles as any new standard, taking years to become adopted on large scale. But main question is how will new connector and higher power output affect you as a backer, once device is in your hands. There are two core feature of USB-3.1 and its C type reversible connector – higher power throughput and faster data transfer. We do not care about data transfer here as main focus is on charging.
From power perspective this battery-bank/charger offers 4.2 amps(specs from campaign page), twice the amount of what we usually see in single usb 2.0 port, current chargers are mostly 2.1 amps. So this offers twice the throughput, but when can this maximum current be used? Unfortunately on existing cell phone batteries, current this high can only be used when battery is below or around 50% otherwise it threatens to overheat the cells. Battery will begin charging full force but as you pass 50% mark charging will become progressively slower.
We also have some overheating concerns about pushing this much current 4.2 amps. Many portable battery devices suffer from overheating especially ones with multiple ports. We have seen them just melt-away at 4amps and there is no passive cooling system on the product page. This may seem like something “they would test for” but keep in mind this is indegogo campaign, functional prototype is unlikely to even exist. And similar campaign for Limefuel suffered from “meltaway issues”, in fat the two carry considerable resemblance and are based on similar cells.
Battery capacity is another big factor, device comes with 13,400 mAh capacity but keep in mind this is rated capacity with 100% efficiency. Batteries generally have 70-80% or so – useful capacity. Faster you draw from the battery – the more energy is lost to heat, so high throughput may reduce useful capacity even further and you end up with barely charging your phone twice. Adding to that degradation of performance overtime and this is something X-TROM team should look at closely.
Strongest case for this battery is charging larger devices like MacBook, something many of us wanted to do for long time. But we have some skepticism about this one, primarily due to high current and resulting losses to heat, we already discussed. It is hard to imagine that components this small, without any passive cooling can maintain over 4amps for long time.
If you have USB-C phone from google, you do not need USB-c battery bank to charge your phone, existing power banks will do the job with little difference in speed, and there are higher capacity, lighter and cheaper chargers on the market. once you get this power bank in your hand, it will feel like any other
Will campaign deliver if funded?
Yes, this product will deliver if funded, there is great deal of expertise in manufacturing these type of devices. We feel that December deadline for shipping is optimistic, but delivery will likely happen beginning on 2016.