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Customer Review

144 of 175 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great product, but read this review before using with DSi, June 5, 2010
This review is from: New Trent IMP99D/NT99D iGeek - 11200mAh External Battery Charger for Smartphones and Tablets USB (Electronics)
Let's face it, the battery life on the iPhone is awful. While I don't see myself as any sort of power user, I'm lucky if I end the day with 5% left on the phone. I chose New Trent (formerly iMaxPower) because I rarely see products from any company on Amazon that are consistently rated 4 1/4 ro 5 stars across the board. Every review praised the quality of the product, and even better - the technical support.

I needed a case with battery for my new iPhone, as well as a standalone booster charger because our family is going on a 6-hour plane trip and I need the iPhone to last the entire trip. My kids are also bringing their DSi, so we needed the booster to charge that as well.

So this review covers all of the New Trent products I purchased: the IMP130, IMP550, and IMP880.

IMP130

The IMP130 is an iPhone case that contains an integrated 1700mAh battery. That battery is higher capacity (according to wiki) than the one in the iPhone 3GS (which is supposedly around 1219mAh). Capacity isn't everything; battery quality varies greatly. After using the IMP130 for a week or so, I estimate the it to effectively double my time between charges.

The IMP130 case completely covers the iPhone (other comparable cases leave the top exposed). To put the iPhone in the case, you detach the top of the IMP130 case and slide the iPhone into the bottom part, where it docks to the standard Apple connector built into the case. You then have the option to re-attach the top piece, providing protection to the top of your iPhone, or leaving it off. The only reason to choose to leave the top part off is that when the IMP130 is fully assembled, access to the iPhone buttons is difficult at best. You need to use your fingernail to mute the phone and access the volume controls. I hope New Trent addresses this in a future version. The standby button and headphone jack are much more easily accessible. NOTE: If you do decide to leave the top off the case, there is not much friction holding the iPhone in the bottom part of the case. It feels secure, but I would not trust it - I don't think the designers expected you to use it that way, but the case design is very clean even without the top piece (as if it was designed with that in mind). I find no degradation in 3G signal due to the case, nor are the speakers degraded.

Now the best part - for those of you who (like me) have a full-body Invisible Shield on your iPhone, the phone WILL stil completely fit in the the IMP130! I have not heard of that with any other case.

The IMP130 is about 3/4 the weight of the iPhone, so it almost doubles the overall weight. It also adds a bit of bulk around all sides - but provides a good feel in your hands. The texture of the case provides a good amount of grip, but I still prefer the grip the Invisible Shield provides. To me, the IMP130 case could use a little more anti-slip texture.

The IMP130 is charged through a standard Micro USB cable (included). Say good-bye to the proprietary iPhone cable. This is a very good thing. The case has an on/off switch in the bottom. When the switch is Off, you are running on your iPhone battery. When the switch is On, you are still using the iPhone battery, but it is being charged at the same time by the IMP130 battery. When the IMP130 finally gives out, the "charging" indicator on your iPhone turns off and you are solely using the iPhone battery. Whether the switch is on or off, you can still sync through the Micro USB cable. Any off-the-shelf Micro USB cable will work with this product. Here's the typical scenario: you come home with your iPhone at 90% charge and your IMP130 at 0%. You connect the cable to your PC to do your sync. The IMP130 begins to charge and the iPhone starts to charge once the IMP130 has enough juice. After a couple of hours, both are at 100%. The IMP130 has 3 LED indicators that show the current charge (100%/66%/33%/0%).

Finally - and this is a GREAT one - the IMP130 has a built-in super-bright white LED that can be used as a flashlight (say good-bye to those stupid "flashlight apps"). It also solves the problem of those impossible low-light pictures. The LED has a switch to turn it on or off.

In all, the IMP130 is really a great product. The only negative is the hard-to-access volume and mute controls. And remember, if you have an Invisible Shield full body wrap, it WILL fit in the case nicely.

IMP550

While the IMP130 is great, there's no way it will take the iPhone on a 6-hour flight of pure video and 3D games. So that's why I also got the IMP550. This is a brand new product from New Trent. It's the big brother of the IMP130 (much bigger in fact). It has a very large 5500mAh capacity. That pretty much quadruples the iPhone battery.

Unlike the IMP130, this case does not fully enclose the iPhone; it leaves the top exposed - granting easy access to all of the iPhone buttons. The case is lined with a velvety material which not only feels neat, it helps keep the iPhone in place. An iPhone with a full-body wrap Invisible Shield DOES fit in the case.

Also unlike the IMP130, the sync interface is not Micro USB, but rather standard Apple. That means there is no cable included with the IMP550; you can use your original cable that came with your iPhone.

Because this is a serious battery, the case adds serious weight to your iPhone, as well as bulk - mostly overall thickness. However, unless you have very small hands, I think you will find that the case feels much more comfortable in your hands than the iPhone itself. I find it to be quite ergonomic. I also find the grip of the IMP550 to be slightly superior to that of the IMP130.

The IMP550 does not have an on/off switch; it provides a charge to the iPhone when it needs to. Like the IMP130, you will charge both the case and the iPhone while you are connected to your PC, wall charger, or car charger.

Personally, I don't think the IMP550 is suited to be a full-time case solution for your iPhone. It is simply too bulky and heavy for that (as is any other 5000+ mAh battery case). It's great for long trips, golf courses, or any other time you will not have access to a charger for many many hours.

Sadly, the IMP550 has no flashlight LED (maybe on their next revision?). Three LEDs indicate charge, and a fourth tells you if the IMP550 is charging your iPhone.

In summary - another 5-star product.

IMP880

When I am on that long trip, my iPhone is covered by the IMP550. But what about my kid's DSi and my wife's smartphone (not everyone has an iPhone)... New Trent has that covered, too. The IMP880 is a standalone battery that charges a multitude of devices. It has a staggering 8800mAh of capacity - almost two IMP550 worth, or roughly 6-7 times the capacity of an iPhone. That's some serious capacity. The unit is quite small - about the size of a man's wallet. It weighs about the same as a man's wallet (before a Vegas trip).

Four LEDs indicate battery charge and a Test button lets you know the current capacity. NewTrent made a Youtube video demonstrating this unit. In that video, they say you need to turn the unit on by holding down the Test button for 5 seconds before you charge something. I find that the unit always charges a device if needed; maybe I have a newer revision.

The battery may be small, but the wall adapter used to charge the IMP880 is not. The Youtube video shows a nice, small wall-wart. My unit came with a very bulky in-line AC adapter. It is larger than the IMP550 itself. Not a big deal, but much larger than I expected. Remember, the AC adapter is something you pack in your suitcase; you carry the small IMP880 on the plane fully charged.

The IMP880 can charge a variety of items, and has several ports:
DC-IN jack connects to the AC adapter. This is how you charge the IMP880 from the wall.
DC-OUT jack is only used for charging specific notebook PCs. My unit included a cable for this, but I am not certain NewTrent will support notebook charging going forward. I do not see notebook devices listed as charge targets any longer on their website.
Type-A USB connector is used to charge your iPhone, Blackberry or DSi.

At this point, I need to speak about the USB cable that is included with the IMP880. The IMP880 replaces a smaller charger called the IMP500. This was the workhorse of the imaxPower line of products. In fact, the IMP550 is basically the IMP500 designed into an iPhone case. The reason I bring up the IMP500 is that - like the IMP880 - it charges devices through a USB cable. This cable has a standard USB-A connector on one end, and a generic adapter on the other. You can configure the cable for different devices by connecting a different plug on the adapter end. That way, you can use the USB cable to charge an iPhone, or Blackberry, or DSi, etc. The USB cable that was included with the IMP500 had a FEMALE adapter on the end. All of the flavors of connectors had a male adapter. The USB cable that is included with the IMP880 has a MALE adapter on the end. All of the flavors of connectors have a female adapter.

So what does this mean? For me, it meant a slight problem when I tried to use the IMP880 to charge my kid's DSi. You see, neither the IMP880 nor IMP500 come with a DSi adapter. Not a problem - the website clearly points that out. So when I purchased the IMP880, I also bought the only DSi adapter they sold (it was about $5). Unfortunately, that adapter is male, and only fits the IMP500 cable. It will not fit the USB cable that came with the IMP880.

My solution was to then buy an IMP500 USB cable. NewTrent sells them, and so does EBay. But that means I now have one cable that only fits the DSi adapter, and another cable that fits all my other devices. Plus, I had to spend money on the extra cable. NewTrent says they are working on the problem, and will standardize on the cable.

Again, this was only a problem for me because I wanted to charge a DSi. All my other charging needs are met with the cable that comes with the IMP880.
By the time you read this, the issue may have been resolved, but contact the company if you intend to use the IMP880 to charge a DSi (or consider getting the IMP500 instead).

When the IMP880 is charging a device, the IMP880 remains cool. I believe the main reason for this is that NewTrent has a current limiter in the IMP880 that keeps charging current lower than what you get from a wall or PC. Devices will charge slightly slower, but the IMP880 will not get hot.

On those very long trips, the IMP880 can charge either the IMP550 or IMP130 directly. NOTE: I am told by the company that this is not a wise thing to do on a daily basis, but a few times on a long trip is fine.

Because of the adapter compatibility issue, I'd have to give the IMP880 4 stars. I'd ding it more for the trouble I went through, except it just works so darned good. I had the time to get the adapter issue straightened out; had I discovered this the day before my trip, I'd not be so happy.

A word about NewTrent customer service: EXCELLENT. I had a couple of questions that I sent via E-mail. I asked if someone could call me back, and I got a phone call within 10 minutes - from the owner of the comapny. Show me one other company where this happens.

Conclusion:
Three great products from a great company. The customer support quality is amazing. What is also amazing is how poorly written the instruction booklets are. If you want to see the devices in action, there are videos on the website that explain it all, but hopefully this review did that as well.
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Comments

Tracked by 4 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 15 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 4, 2010 5:54:43 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 4, 2010 6:01:12 PM PDT
rick says:
FINALLY !!!! Someone posts a very well written *useful* review instead of a half baked comment. Bravo to Brian the reviewer! The detail in this post actually allows me to make a better purchase decision since the reviewer had the scrupples to include specific information as opposed to just stating that the product "worked great". I just wish the reviewer had tried the product with the iPad too as I'm looking for a auxillary battery solution for the iPad for use on transcontinental flights, long motorcar rides, and jaunts into the woods :)

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 21, 2010 2:05:04 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 21, 2010 2:05:24 PM PDT
I think this is what I'm looking for in order to keep my iPhone charged for long motorcar rides. My problem is which is better IMP 500 or IMP880? The only thing I'm charging is my iPhone.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 21, 2010 5:01:43 PM PDT
Sorry I can't be as through as Brian but I just charged my iPad with the 880

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 21, 2010 8:15:47 PM PDT
Ok so you charged it with the 880 obviously because you thought the charge would last longer than the 500? And how long did it last?

Posted on Sep 12, 2010 11:26:49 AM PDT
Thank you Brian - there are a lot of people like me who look at these things over and over trying to figure out which battery would be the best and your review has helped tremendously! Thanks for taking the time to write such a terrific review - all of us out here really appreciate it.

Posted on Dec 28, 2010 11:52:38 AM PST
SusieL says:
Thank you for the extensive & informative review. For the past ~3 years, I've used APC Mobile battery packs, which I love. I have two & normally keep one charging while the other one is in use. However, one died last week. I did replace it with another one b/c they are old enough that the price has gone down & I ended up buying two b/c they are small & compact & easily fit into my handbag. BUT...since it had been a few years, I figured there were better chargers out there now & stumbled upon this one as well as your review. I did go ahead & buy an IMP880 (in addition to the two APC replacements.)

Posted on Mar 16, 2011 4:39:26 AM PDT
knocks says:
What an awesome review! Thank you very much. This review helped to make up my mind.

Posted on May 12, 2011 4:27:41 AM PDT
Thank you so much for your great review!
I have one question. Can I use it to charge a macbook?

Best regards.

Posted on Nov 7, 2011 10:23:59 AM PST
D. Lillig says:
l don't need to spend a half an hour reading 5 paragraphs of ego-driven non-issues. If the battery has lots of amps and l can fly across the Pacific on an 11 to 15 hour flight watching movies on my digital image player/tablet computer then that's the battery backup/booster for me.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 16, 2011 11:10:32 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 16, 2011 11:13:22 AM PST
Doug J. says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]
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