Portable back-up for your laptop

Updated: Oct 31 2005, 05:30am hrs
If your laptop battery goes dead and you cant find a convenient electrical outlet to plug the computer in, you can keep working if you happen to be carrying an XPower Pocket Powerpack. The portable back-up battery system has a three-prong, 120-volt electrical outlet that can provide temporary power to run or recharge small, portable electronic devices.

The Powerpack 100 is marketed by Xantrex, an electric-power accessory company based in British Columbia. The company says the device holds enough juice to run a laptop for two and a half hours or a portable DVD player for two hours. It also has a USB power plug to recharge components such as iPods, Blackberries and Palm units that charge through USB ports.

The Dayton Daily News tested an XPower Pocket Powerpack 100, and it performed a bit better than Xantrex promised. The company says the battery can power a portable DVD player for two hours, but it had no problem keeping a portable player with a 7-inch liquid crystal screen going through the length of a movie running 2 hours and 21 minutes.

The Powerpack 100 is two devices that work in tandem a rechargeable NiMh battery pack and a 100-watt power inverter that converts DC battery power to AC power such as you get through a normal household outlet. The power inverter can be used separately from the battery pack to power AC devices while traveling. The unit comes with a power jack that fits into a cigarette lighter port in a car or boat or into a standard airplane DC outlet. Once the inverter is connected to a vehicle power supply, devices requiring less than 100 watts of power can be plugged into the inverters three-prong AC outlet.

The inverter can supply 100 watts of power for only five minutes, but it can pump out 80 watts continuously. That should be enough to run a backseat video game on a long car trip, for instance.

When there is no vehicle jack into which the inverter can be plugged, it can draw power from the battery pack. It takes about eight hours to fully charge the battery pack, and Xantrex says its good for about 400 charges. The battery pack can be charged at home by plugging it into a household outlet, and it can be charged on the road by plugging it into the power inverter and connecting it to a cigarette lighter.

Xantrex touts the Powerpack 100 as an accessory for the traveling business person, and it probably would come in handy for someone who cant always get to an electrical outlet. The units weight is a drawback, however. NYT

At 2 pounds, 4 ounces its quite a load to slip into a briefcase.