Gadget Review – Anker Astro E3 External Battery (2nd Gen.)

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As a big fan of my Q10, I have two BBRY Charger Bundles that I use almost daily to insure I always have a battery with a fresh charge. I think this is an excellent power management strategy, and when I got a Z30 I was somewhat disappointed I couldn’t do the same thing with that device. So naturally I went on all the tech forums and Twitter and bashed BlackBerry and complained vehemently. (Sorry- I keed.)

I’ve been swapping my SIM between devices fairly regularly and wanted some type of power management strategy for the Z30 as despite it’s sizable battery, I found that during heavy use, I needed a charge in the afternoon. In fairness, I don’t like my battery to get below 20% so I will charge it when it gets close.

Everything that comes in the box.
Everything that comes in the box.

Without doing much research, I went to Amazon.com and found the Astro E3, with Power IQ technology by Anker. If you like to get right to the bottom line, I recommend the device. One caveat is that I did not search to see if there were others that offered more functionality at the same price or the same functionality for a lesser price. Also, it appears I got a good deal since I’m a Prime member.

Very solidly built.
Very solidly built.

Build Quality – The first thing you will notice about the Astro E3 is the excellent build quality. The device feels heavy in your hand and although it appears to be made out of plastic, it leaves the impression that it’s very well made. The seams, ports and buttons and the overall feel are impressive.

Simplicity – The device is very easy to use. There are a couple recommendations in the Welcome Guide, but other than that, you merely charge it up and plug your device into it via USB cable and away you go. There are some simple lights that serve the dual purpose of indicating when the unit is charging something and how much charge it has, and there’s one button you can press to check the charge level.

Power IQ – This technology offers two advantages: 1) It allows the unit to charge a wider array of devices, and 2) Allows the unit to vary the charging output to charge a device at it’s maximum charging rate. There is a brief description of this tech in the Welcome Guide where it says the unit is able to “…communicate with any connected device by speaking its unique charging language.” So far, it has worked well for me, but I have not attached any kind of meter to measure the output or timed how long it takes to charge vs alternatives.

Two charging ports.
Two charging ports.

Dual Ports – The Astro E3 is capable of charging two devices at once. There is a maximum output across both ports of 3 Amps, which seems pretty good since I noticed my Playbook charger provides 1.8 Amps output, and my Q10 charger is 850 milliAmps. Right now, I’m typing this on my BBRY Bluetooth keyboard on my Z30 while charging both devices.

Charging Q10 and BBRY Bluetooth Keyboard.
Charging Q10 and BBRY Bluetooth Keyboard.

User Notes – Anker recommends the following regarding the usage of the device: 1) Unplug the device as soon as it’s fully charged, and 2) Fully charge the device at least once every four months.

The 2nd Generation Astro E3 is available on Amazon for $23 USD with a Prime membership. It has a 10,000 mAh battery and is small enough to be carried in your pocket, having a footprint slightly smaller than the Z30; it’s thicker, more narrow and slightly shorter. It seems high quality and has given me good service in the 8 weeks that I have been using it. I have not timed how long it takes to charge my Z30 to 100% from different levels, but I feel very comfortable that I will never be without a convenient source of power to keep me rolling.

Check it out!

james pisano

RIM/BB fan since 2009. Wouldn't consider entrusting my career, life or privacy to another platform. Foremost, I am a student of life. Some likes: longboarding, nature, Baltimore Orioles, technology, driving, music, reading and Taoism. Politically independent.

  • shanerredflag

    Great read James…and right on que, was about to go looking for a portable solution.
    Thx. locco_smiley_10

    • Shanerredflag – Thanks for the comments buddy! I definitely recommend it!

  • bambinoitaliano

    I have a Anker Astro Pro 2 with 20000 mAh. It’s enough to charge a laptop as well. I only use them when I travel. Especially those long flights and you are stuck with old planes with neither charging outlet or usb. It comes in handy with my Z30 then and Playbook. It’s a good device to have around when you are not at home or work place.

    • Damn Bambi, that’s a big charger! That would be cool although right now, I don’t have a use-case for one that big.

  • Anthony

    Is this device a “rapid charger”? The Passport can charge faster with the 5V 1.8A Playbook charger. The stock Passport charger is 5V 1.3A.

    • Anthony – This charger is rated 3 Amps output and will charge any device at it’s highest charging rate, so it should be faster charging your Passport than your 1.8 Amp Playbook charger.

  • Canuckvoip

    Being out and about all day and then heading out straight from work to practice or whatever, I always like to be prepared. I have a smaller, less powerful power bank just in case, but this one looks awesome, the dual ports is killer!

    • Thanks Canuck! I’m pleased with it. Good quality.

  • Anthony – This charger is rated 3 Amps output and will charge any device at it’s highest charging rate, so it should be faster charging your Passport than your 1.8 Amp Playbook charger.

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