APC’s Universal Notebook Battery
We received the 70 Wh version of the Universal Notebook Battery from power specialist APC. The company also offers models at 50, 60, 80, and 90 Wh. All are flat, external battery packs with selectable output voltage and a set of nine different power connectors, so they can be used with a large variety of notebooks, regardless of the manufacturer, platform or form factor. You simply plug the Universal Notebook Battery into your notebook’s power port. APC provides a compatibility list, which you can use to check whether your notebook can be powered by this product.
The 50 Wh entry-level battery is a lithium ion product, while all other models—including the 70 Wh type that we received for review—are based on lithium polymer cells. APC calls it a “stand alone battery stack”, which means that you can position it any where you want, though most people will put it underneath the computer. Thanks to a 1.2 m (4’) power cable, you can also operate the Universal Notebook Battery next to your notebook.
The product is only available in a black color, but it is well finished. Unfortunately, our test sampled smelled horribly, and the smell did not go away even after days outside the plastic packaging.
The device not only lets you provide power to a notebook, it also sports an additional USB port. This port can be used to charge USB devices (up to 500 mA) such as a cell phone, GPS device, or an iPod—this can come in handy, whether or not you need the Universal Notebook Battery to power your notebook.
There is no dedicated power supply for the Universal Notebook Battery—just plug your notebook’s power supply into the APC battery to start the charging process. There is a battery level indicator on the front of the device. You will find a button next to it. Once pushed for at least two seconds, the LED indicator will inform you of the power level in six increments.
It is possible to charge both the APC battery and your notebook battery at the same time. Simply connect the power supply to the Universal Notebook Battery while it is connected to your notebook’s power port. Be aware that the charging process can take several hours, especially if you use your notebook at peak power while charging both batteries—the power supplies aren’t designed to supply the notebook and charge two or more batteries simultaneously. If you find yourself needing to speed up charging frequently, it may make sense to purchase a more powerful notebook power supply.
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