There is obviously plenty of electronics manufactured in and exported from China, lots of it being counterfeit copies of branded products. Usually functioning, but often lacking some of the features and typically made of inferior materials with no proper quality control, they are easily obtained from various online stores and through eBay. The product I am about to discuss, also made in China, is however a legit one - The Mi Power Bank by Xiaomi. This statement comes with a twist of irony though, as the company behind it is, with its founder and CEO Lei Jun, known for blatantly ripping off especially Apple, all the way down to the mannerisms of late Steve Jobs. A young, hungry company aiming to the global markets, they are not one to be ignored, but I will leave it here, and instead dive into the product itself, which is actually very good.
Looking for reasonable means to ensure my battery-operated cadgets have power when I need it, I was quickly drawn into different types of power banks. Small and simple to use, yet robust enough to throw around, I have for a long time already used a couple of Nokia DC-16’s, a 2200 mAh portable power bank capable of recharging for example a typical smart phone once. A narrow cylinder weighting just shy of 80 grams, they are handy to carry around just in case.
Wanting more capacity, enough to keep several devices running for extended time, I researched the available products and quickly ended up ordering a 10400 mAh Xiaomi Mi Power Bank from DealExtreme. Ironically again, also Xiaomi suffers from counterfeiting, and copies of their power banks are widely sold for example in eBay. If you decide to order one, try to ensure you get the real deal. If in doubt, check this video to get a confirmation. In my opinion the two crucial things are the incomplete circuitry and the no-name cells typically found in the fake ones. Real one uses LG, Samsung and other branded cells, with full specified capacity.
The unit is made of plastic and aluminum, with a simple interface of micro USB and USB ports, with indicator leds and a reset button. Connecting a device automatically turns on the charging circuitry and once disconnected, the unit powers off automatically so you don’t accidentally drain the unit. There is also short circuit protection, and unit has enough ampage to charge most of the portable devices, including an iPad. I have tossed it around quite carelessly (though often storing it in a cutout pockect, saved from an old disintegrated pair of merino wool pants) and dropped it few times, with only some odd scratches on the aluminum casing. The unit weighs 255 grams without cables.
I have used this power bank now for almost a year, with absolutely no issues. Circuitry works reliably (it is essentially plug and play with little interaction needed), and the 10400 mAh capacity has proved to be just the right amount for most of my needs, while still keeping the bulk at minimum. Xiaomi has also 5000 mAh and 16000 mAh version of this power bank, both of which share the same looks, with a slightly different shape and size. I have used mine to charge my iPhone and iPad of course, but also my wristop computers and Petzl Nao head lamp. Recently purchased Garmin eTrex 20 and Sony RX100 III can also be topped up with this power bank, essentially leaving no gaps when it comes to electronics I might have with me when heading out. As the unit only comes with a micro USB - USB cable adapters are necessary, but getting one of those micro USB to anything adapter kits sorts it out. Unfortunately though both Suunto and Garmin wristop computers use proprietary connectors and hence add unnecessary bulk to the kit. On the other hand Nao requires no cables at all, as the removable battery has a male USB.
In case you are on the lookout for a mobile power source, but not ready to invest into hydrogen reactors or solar power, the Mi Power Bank is worth considering. It even comes in multiple bright colors, if the basic white and silver theme does not cut it for you.