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PC-Mobile Battery Extender for iPAQ

30th September 2002

 Reviewed by Mike Barrett


Price $13.50 iPAQ 38xx
Price $7.95 iPAQ 36xx, Casio


Do you often take your iPAQ on long journeys or outings where there is no mains or battery power?


Are you scared of using your iPAQ because you might use your precious battery resource?


Well worry no more. PC-Mobile have come up with a perfect solution. A battery extender which can be used to charge your iPAQ battery anywhere and any time.


Typically the battery extender can fully charge your iPAQ twice from one set of rechargable batteries.



PC Mobile Battery Extender


I bought the battery box from the PC-Mobile web site www.pc-mobile.net at a cost of $13.50 plus $5.00 Postage. PC-Mobile is based in Hong Kong although they do have a small distribution centre in the UK. I was extremely surprised to find the postman knocking on my door the next day with my battery box, not one of the items listed as stocked in the UK.


This was rather handy as I was playing golf the next day and wanted to record the tracks around the course. With my iPAQ connected to my Navman sleeve and running OziExplorer CE I set off for a gruelling 4 hour thrash around the course. As expected the iPAQ battery lasted for about 2 hours. I then connected the battery extender and continued on my round. The unit charged as it recorded my tracks. After my round of golf I had a fully charged iPAQ and 4 hours worth of recorded zig-zag tracks around the Essex countryside.


Technical Details
The unit measures 2.5 x 2.75 x 0.75 (inches) and comes with 9inch long cable. When loaded with 4 rechargeable batteries the unit weighs 5oz or about 150grammes.


You need to be careful when ordering as there are two models one for the 36xx and one for the 38xx, the difference being the supplied cable.


The unit incorporates an on-off switch to allow you to conserve batteries whilst still connected to your PDA.


The PQ8B is the model tested and comes with the correct fitting for the iPAQ 38xx series PDAs. Also available is the PB4A for other Compaq and Casio PDAs.


The power is supplied by four AA size rechargeable batteries (not supplied) the NiMH batteries are recommended. Quote from PC-Mobile "Rechargeable NiMH batteries of 1500mAh or higher. AA NiMH batteries are rated 1.2V-1.25V with actual output of 1.2V - 1.3V. So 4 x NiMH batteries have output of 4.8V - 5.2V "


I used both 1500mAh and 1700mAh batteries for my testing and found no noticeable difference between them. I did not conduct very scientific tests so there may be a real measurable difference.


In use the unit is simple to use and works very well. When allowing the iPAQ to discharge down to 10% the extender recharged the battery (iPAQ powered off) in just over an hour and a half with both 1500 and 1700 batteries. Allowing the iPAQ to discharge down to 10% again the charge took a bit longer coming in at about 1 hour 45 minutes.


Whilst testing the only downside that I noticed was that if you left the extender connected to the iPAQ when the extender's power was exhausted it drained the power from the iPAQ batteries, even worse whist it was draining the batteries the charging light was flashing on the iPAQ. This occurred when I tried to charge the unit for a third time on one set of batteries.


Armed with a fully charged iPAQ and Navman sleeve, the battery extender and two sets of batteries you should expect to be able to run your GPS system constantly for at least 10 hours, maybe more with careful use of power facilities, especially turning off the screen backlight.


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