I know this is a music blog, but sometimes I run into products that I really like, and just have to give them a quick plug. The Anker Astro E7 charger is one of those products, and besides, it would be a handy thing to have for a gig in case your phone or iPad battery is going dead.
A few months back I picked up the 2nd generation Anker Astro E7 charger, and I always have it in my briefcase or backpack. I picked this model because it had very good reviews and the best specifications of any of the hundreds of different power banks on the market. It is rated at 25,600mAh and the marketing materials state that it will charge an iPad air twice with no problems. This is not just hype - it can actually do it!
Physically, this charger is a bit bigger and heavier than the vape-sized power banks that you often see people using in coffee shops. It measures 6 ½ x 3 ¼ x ¾ inches, and it weighs in at a bit more than a pound. It has 3 USB output ports and a single mini USB port that is used to charge the unit, as well as a built-in flashlight.
A wall charger is not included with the E7, just a mini USB cable that can be plugged into the power source of your choice. And you should choose this power source wisely. The complaints I see are from people who try to use their laptop or an iPhone wall wart to charge this thing up. That will make the process really slow, and depending on the internal protection circuitry of your computer, it might not charge at all. I have good luck using my 12 Watt iPad wall wart, and it takes about 12 hours to fully charge if it was totally dead to start with. If you do not have one of these, Anker sells the same thing for around 10 bucks.
This charger is easy to use, there is no ON/OFF switch and it will turn ON automatically when something is plugged into one of the USB ports. The 3 ports are not just for show, either as it is fully capable of charging more than one thing at a time, up to 4 Amps total output. Any single port is capable of putting out a maximum of 3 Amps, which is right in the wheelhouse for charging a dead iPad Air in a bit over 3 hours. There are 4 LEDs on the top that show the Anker’s state of charge.
This all sounds good, and all of it actually works. There is rarely an open or convenient wall outlet in airports, bars, restaurants, or coffee shops, making the Anker Astro E7 a godsend. It holds a charge seemingly forever, and when it is needed it delivers the goods. On a recent trip, my son and I used it to fully charge both of our dead iPhones, and to recharge my iPad Air 2, all on a single charge. It is heavy and big, but I will not leave home without it.
The 2nd gen Anker Astro E7 is not the cheapest charger on the market, but I think it is the best. It has a list price of $200 (really?), but they sell all day long on Amazon for $60, which includes the aforementioned charging cable as well as a small carry sack. Plus, this price includes an 18-month warranty from the manufacturer, and from what I have heard their customer service is very good. If you are looking for a portable charging solution, this one is my recommendation!