Review: Tekkeon TekCharge MP1860A

by on September 6, 2011

A few years back, Tekkeon was primarily a company focusing on Bluetooth solutions for Apple products. Today, with the advent of $20 Bluetooth headsets and the iPhone, Tekkeon has shifted towards power accessories for Apple products. One such item is the $69 TekCharge MP1860A, a twin-USB port backup battery for iPods, iPhones, iPads, and many other devices.

TekCharge TekCharge TekCharge

The TekCharge is a small black plastic 4400 mAH battery pack, roughly the side of an iPod mini from years ago. You can compare that to the capacity of the iPhone 4’s 1420 mAH battery or the iPad’s 6930 mAH battery for a bit of perspective on capacity. It’s not very bulky, and can easily find its way into a travel bag, purse, or pocket. Included in the package is the TekCharge itself, the myCharger USB power adapter, a Dock Connector-to-USB cable, a retractable USB cable, two tips (micro and mini USB) that attch to the USB cable, and a small drawstring pouch for the tips. Overall, you should be able to charge anything using the included items, and if not, as long as it can charge from a USB port, you should be able to use it with the TekCharge. Tekkeon offers additional tips for most devices, costing about $5-$8 apiece.

On the TekCharge itself, there is a white LED that can act as a flashlight, a three-setting power switch (off, on, flashlight), a mini USB port for charging the TekCharge (connect to the AC adapter or a computer), two regular USB ports for connecting devices, and a capacity indicator. Although we would’ve liked something a bit more detailed, it serves its purpose. When charging, orange indicates 0-80% full, and blue indicates 80-100% full. When using it, orange indicates 0-20% full, and blue indicates 20-100% full. We’re not sure how much additional LEDs would have cost to add, but something like Apple’s notebooks would have been better—5-7 LEDs to give a slightly more accurate reading.

The TekCharge also provides pass-through for USB signals, although you’d need your own mini-USB cable to connect to a computer (the included one only carries power due to its changeable tips).

A backup battery may have great included features or may be well-designed, but the big selling point is how it works. With power outages thanks to crazy spring and summer weather in the Midwest, we were able to test the TekCharge quite a bit over the last few months. By using it with both an iPad and an iPhone 4, it worked as advertised, charged fairly quickly, and provided enough power for both an iPad and an iPhone. One USB port can output up to 2.1 Amps, while the other can provide 1 Amp when used alone, or 0.4ma when used simultaneously. It was a bit difficult to start from completely empty on the devices, simply because of Apple’s already outstanding battery life. Still, the TekCharge should be adequate for anyone who may be a day or two away from a recharge with their iPhone or iPad.

Due to so many variables in the testing process (especially since the TekCharge recharges a device’s battery, rather than powering it directly), we had varying, but similar results with each test that seem to be in line with Tekkeon’s stated times (it could recharge a depleted iPad to about 48-50% in two and a half hours). The TekCharge will be able to charge an iPhone or iPod touch twice over before it’s depleted. Using both ports slows charging down, since the devices are sharing the power available.

It’s worth noting that the TekCharge can charge an iPad, but its AC adapter will not provide enough power to charge the iPad (only maintain, like many iPhone AC adapters). Although this shouldn’t be a hassle for most, this could be an inconvenience co those with a drained TekCharge and iPad—they’d have to wait for the TekCharge to fill somewhat first.

Overall, we found the TekCharge to be a handy addition for any road warrior’s toolkit, especially since the price includes a capable backup battery, a Dock Connector, and an iPhone-compatible (but not iPad) AC adapter. It’s a great option in the case of not having a wall outlet available.

The One-Sentence Verdict™

If you’re finding yourself without an electrical outlet, the TekCharge MP1860A can get your devices up and running at a very reasonable price.

Pros: Reasonable price, great design, included accessories

Cons: Could use better readout for battery capacity

Rating: 8/10

The Facts

Product: TekCharge MP1860A
Company: Tekkeon
Platform: iPod (all USB-charge capable), iPhone (all), iPad (all)
Price: $69.95

This post has been filed in iPad, iPhone, Mobile Devices, Reviews