Review: Calibre Ultra'Go nano power station

Slim, durable battery takes a shot at unconventional battery indicator (May 27th, 2014)

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Product Manufacturer: Calibre

Price: $55

The Good

  • Design
    - Battery capacity
    - Durability

The Bad

  • Limited LED indicator
    - Accuracy of vibration signals
    - Having to plug in to check charge

Battery life is a day-to-day concern for many smartphone users who are frequently surfing the Internet, checking emails or staying connected on social media. Often a single charge for a battery isn't enough, leaving consumers looking for options to extend their device's life. So what options are left for those that don't want to spend time camped out by an electrical outlet? The flexible solution is to invest in an external battery. But what about consumers that don't want to carry around a bulky battery? In those cases, the Calibre Ultra'Go nano power station may be an option worth exploring.

The Calibre Ultra'Go offers a large capacity battery in a slim, attractive container. The 2500mAh battery is housed inside a screwless aero-grade aluminum alloy enclosure, with only two ports exposed on the outside. It features a minimalist design, drawing attention to only the company logo and an LED on the top of the battery. It also comes in a seven different colors to fit the style needs of consumers.

The small nature of the Ultra'Go allows it to be carried around in a pocket, without taking up much space if tucked in behind a phone. With dimensions of 3.1 x 2.2 x 0.4 inches, the battery is quite slim for the capacity it carries. It is light as well, weighing only 3.2 ounces.

For those not wanting to carry it around uncovered fear of scratching a device in the same pocket, Calibre includes a pouch with the battery. The two-pocket microfiber pouch holds both the battery and a USB-to-micro USB cable for charging. The pouch isn't technically necessary to protect the battery, as the casing holds up to numerous drops, thanks to the aluminum shell.

A unique feature to Calibre that is brought to the Ultra'Go nano is its vibration signaling. Instead of having to rely on an LED indicator to tell users the charge level at a glance, the battery vibrates. Each vibration signifies a 25-percent mark of remaining charge, going from 1 vibration for 25-percent left to a full charge at four vibrations. These vibrations are triggered when the Ultra'Go nano is plugged into a device, giving users a tactile experience to gauge the unit's remaining charge.

There is a significant drawback to the vibration notification -- it is the only way to know how much battery is left in the Ultra'Go nano. Since the vibrations don't trigger until the battery recognizes a charge or discharge, it creates something of an annoyance for users. There's no button to press or light to look at to give any indication of remaining battery life. The LED on the top of the unit is only used to show a charging or discharging status when it breathes, or turns solid when it reaches a complete charge when plugged in.

While a neat feature to use, it becomes another device to throw on a charger for the next day if it has been used at all. Depending on the device being charged by the unit, it may not be a huge deal to let it lapse for a day. It just doesn't offer that quick-look indicator like other batteries have. While it is nice for those moments that the battery is attached to feel it out, doing a simple check on the battery requires the same actions as plugging something in to charge. We'd really like to see a more graduated LED or other indicator to be able to skip this step.

Charging a device is handled through the 5V, 1A USB-A port located on the side of the case. Charge time for an iPhone 4s, which contains a 1432 mAh battery, took 128 minutes to charge from 10 percent to 100 percent. After the charge completed, the Ultra'Go nano gave an indication that it still had 75 percent battery life left. This is most likely towards the bottom end of the indicator's range. The battery will also discharge until it is empty, like most devices similar to it -- something that was discovered when leaving it connected to the phone with navigation on.

Time to charge the battery was faster in comparison to device charging. Charging is handed over a standard micro USB port, which sits next to the USB-A port. Time to charge the battery to full was approximately 200 minutes. As noted before, the LED turned solid on it when it reached the full status. However, the four vibrations signal for a 100 percent charge started showing up as soon as 165 minutes.

The Calibre Ultra'Go nano power station is a good looking, large-capacity battery solution for people looking for something to add to their daily carry. Its thin design and aluminum casing give it strength, without sacrificing comfort, for a $55 price tag. The lack of a simple display to check on battery life works against it in our eyes. While the vibrating signaling is a nice feature in some applications, it just adds extra steps if you are just checking on the battery. Paired with an indicator to be able to visually check on the power left, the vibration feature would make the Ultra'Go a much better device.

by Jordan Anderson


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