Review: Neptor NP056K portable battery

High capacity battery charges two devices simultaneously through 1A, 2.1A ports (June 16th, 2014)

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Product Manufacturer: Neptor

Price: $40

The Good

  • Battery capacity
    - Charge indicator
    - Charging options

The Bad

  • Button
    - Colors rubbing off on coating
    - Heat when charging

Battery backups are generally geared toward multitasking, or made with a single device in mind. Many are bundled as an additional feature to a Bluetooth speaker, focusing on sound output first and charging second. This often leaves the unit capped at how much of the battery it offers up to charging external devices. But what happens when the speaker portion is removed, and the large capacity battery is left behind? A company can create a two-port charging solution like the Neptor NP056K. But would the Neptor be a good battery on its own?

The Neptor NP056K is a thick handful of a battery with a lot of power inside. Dimensions come in at 3.97 x 1.93 x 0.98 inches, leaving it as something that might be too large to fit in most pockets already carrying keys and a phone. The NP056K features a plastic housing, which is wrapped in a rubberized coating over the battery. Neptor offers the battery in five colors, with a matching charging cable and lanyard. Weight of the battery is a little on the bulkier side, compared to thinner options, at 0.31 pounds.



Weight is a little more than other batteries on the market because of the extra battery life it provides. The Neptor device contains a 5,600 mAh battery, which the company says is made up of Samsung cells. Power from the NP056K can be delivered in two ways, since the unit offers both 1A and 2.1A outputs. This means that the Neptor can charge most smartphones and tablets simultaneously.

To be able to charge two devices at the same time, Neptor has made the battery in a way that it can handle an output of 3.1A. The NP056K contains an NEC chip that keeps the devices charging as fast as possible without overheating the battery cells. It does come with a drawback, as charging times slow down because of the extra power drain.



Even with the NEC chip, the NP056K still warms up a bit when used to charge a phone through the one-amp USB port. It doesn't provide any discomfort if it is tossed into a pocket while in use, but it is noticeable. When a tablet is charging in the 2.1A USB port, the Neptor battery generates even more heat. It doesn't reach temperatures that will burn or harm anyone, but it isn't recommended that it is carried in a pocket near flesh in this situation. When both USB ports are being used for charging, it builds up to around the same heat levels as when a tablet is charging alone.

Neptor says that the battery can pump enough juice back into a phone in 10 minutes to give it about 40 minutes of talk time. They add that an hour of charging will bring a phone up to 70 percent of capacity. However, testing charge times doesn't quite match up with those claims. To charge an iPhone 4S from seven percent to 100 percent, it took around 155 minutes without allowing any kind of trickle charging. On the iPhone, 10 minutes of charging would allow for around 26 minutes of 3G talk time. To be fair, Neptor doesn't say which phone would allow for 40 minutes in its claim. It also depends on the point at which the battery is being charged. The single charge only took up about a fourth of the NP056K's power.



Charging times for a tablet are shorter, since the battery is being drained at a faster rate. For an iPad 2, charging time from seven to 61 percent was 110 minutes. This eats up all of the power the battery can offer for charging. In the course of testing, the Neptor stopped charging while it still had one indicator showing charge left. However, that small amount of energy couldn't be coaxed out of the battery and into the iPad.

To indicate the amount of charge that's still in the battery, Neptor uses a series of blue LEDs on the front of the unit. The LEDs are bright and easy to read from most angles, with each one indicating 25 percent of capacity. A quick check can be done by pressing the button on the side of the NP056K. The button also has another function, as the Neptor battery can also be used as a flashlight. The flashlight is powered by a single white LED that provides decent illumination in small areas.



There is a problem with how the flashlight is turned on, however. The same button that is used to check the battery indicator is used to activate the LED. Clicking the button twice in quick succession turns it on or off, allowing the flashlight to be called upon without fight when it is needed. The problem is that the flashlight can be triggered on when in a pocket or bag. It isn't a large drain on the battery, but it can go for long periods of time without being noticed.

Restoring energy to the NP056K took 515 minutes - that's 8 hours and 35 minutes -- through a one-amp USB connection on a MacBook Pro. This was longer than the seven hours Neptor suggested it would take to complete a charge cycle. The company does say that the battery will hold a charge for a year, however.



When it comes to carrying around the NP056K, there is something that consumers need to keep in mind. If anyone is a stickler for keeping a things in a pristine condition, it is suggested that the battery is never placed in the same area as something solid that it might rub against. When we tested the Neptor, putting it in the same pocket as a phone with a red case on it resulted in red marks staining the green coating of the battery.

The rubber on the device has a rougher texture to it than other coatings, causing it to transfer some of the color. Objects without any type of sealant or clear coat will be more susceptible, as was the case with the matte coating on the phone case. These marks cannot be removed with alcohol or glass cleaner.

Neptor delivers a good backup battery option that can charge a smartphone and tablet at the same time, as well as charging a smartphone multiple times on a single change. Considering the $40 cost, the power that consumers get is much greater than some of the slimmer batteries out there. There are some issues with the flashlight button, and the device picking up other colors, but these are small things that don't affect performance. If consumers can look past these issues and don't need to carry a speaker, then the large capacity Neptor NP056K is an easy pick up for everyday use.



by Jordan Anderson


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