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Aug 11

Tekkeon MP3450i R2 External Battery User Review

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Tekkeon’s myPower All Plus, MP3450i R2 “instrument” battery is a compact and nicely built device. About the size of an average paperback book, but an inch or so longer, the $200 device is rated at 58 WH. Tekkeon advertises that the MP3450i uses industrial lithium polymer cells, so one would suppose that the battery will feature better durability and more consistent performance over its lifetime than an external battery made from “lesser” commercial cells. The 3450i (for short) comes with an AC adapter for charging the battery, a two foot connector cable and five assorted DC tips, selected, according to Tekkeon, to fit the majority of DC input jacks. One of the particularly appealing aspects of this product is that Tekkeon backs it up with a LARGE assortment of additional tips, most at the very reasonable price of $2.95, but with some ranging up to $4.95 – $7.95. (If you’ve looked at a Radio Shack Adaptaplug lately, you’ll realize what a bargain this is!) Longer 46″ and shorter 9″ connector cables are also available, as are AC and car recharger adapters. If Tekkeon doesn’t make a DC adapter tip for your portable computer or device, it probably doesn’t need to be powered by a battery anyway!

The “top” of the 3450i features, left to right, a special input jack that permits an additional MP3450-10 battery to be connected to the 3450i in parallel, thus doubling the overall capacity of the resulting pack. The special input jack also accommodates solar power (!!) recharging inputs. Next is the battery on-off switch, then the main power output connector, a convenient USB power port and finally the recharging jack and indicator LED (red-orange for charging, green for completely charged).

On the upper side of the 3450i there is a line of 8 blue status LEDs to indicate level of charge. Below the LEDs is a “push to status” button that briefly illuminates the LEDs so you can assess the battery state; this button also lights up when the battery is switched on.

I’ve spent considerable time using my 3450i, and I can verify that it works as advertised. Many battery OEMs advise their users to cycle new batteries three or four times between full charge and, say, 5% charge to help the battery pack develop its optimum capacity and performance. Tekkeon’s Tech Support advises that this is not necessary with the 3450i, but I performed this very time-consuming procedure anyway. During this process, the 3450i went from zero indicated charge to full charge in about 3:50 – 4:00 hours:minutes. During this time, the battery absorbed between 60 and 80 WH. Considering the various efficiencies involved, this indicates that the 3450i is probably charging to at least its rated capacity.

I used the 3450i with my HP / Compaq TC1100, my Dell XT2 and my Asus EP121. Rather than quote running times, which are subject to a variety of factors including power management setting, number and type of background processes, and my personal use profile (which is probably quite different from yours), I’ll simply say that the battery performed as I would expect, providing hours of additional running time. In particular, I was impressed at how well the accessory adapter tips fit the various tablets. The PA-L30 tip for the EP121 is an exact fit. Surprisingly, the PA-N11 tip for the XT2 not only fit well, it apparently also provides the compatibility code to the XT2 so that the XT2 recognizes it as a valid power source and will both run and charge its battery (NO error messages!). One issue worth noting is that the 8-LED status indicator appears to be very nonlinear. Based on my experience to date, it looks like the highest two LEDs represent the first 50% of battery capacity and the other six represent the remaining 50% of battery capacity. Thus, the user has to be careful not to over-estimate the amount of capacity left while the battery is in use. Also, the light from adjacent LEDs bleeds over from a lit LED to one that is not. So sometimes it’s hard to immediately see if you have, say, four LEDs of charge status or really only three. In the big picture, these status indicator issues just take some getting used to, but one would have hoped that Tekkeon could have done a better job with this essential battery feature!

Note that if you absolutely must know how much additional operating time 58 WH is likely to provide, you can use the power consumption numbers in my “TabletPCs and Power” posting (below) to make a rough estimate. The Slate 500 and the Q550 are indicative of netbook-like power consumptions and the XT2 and the EP121 are indicative of middle-level dual-core power consumptions. Just divide (58 * 0.95 =) 55 WH by the appropriate “Play Video” power consumption number to get the additional running time in decimal hours…

Overall, I consider the Tekkeon MP3450i R2 to be a very good investment and a very good addition to my mobility toolkit, and I’m looking forward to many hours of working off the Grid with it. Recommended!

(Below, some of the tips. Top row, the PA-L30 (EP121), the PA-N01 (TC1100), the PA-L5F (Q550) and the PA-N11 (XT, XT2). Bottom row, the five tips included with the MP3450i R2. See the Tekkeon website for more details.)



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