The MacBook Air is one of Apple's more contentious products, and a lot of criticism has been levelled at Apple's decision to include a fixed internal battery, which can be a problem for power users.
Of course, with an average charge of four to five hours it's hardly a problem for day-to-day use, but for business travellers – especially those on long-haul flights – being unable to extend the power supply can be a deal-breaker. Powertraveller hopes to provide a solution to this problem with the Powergorilla, a portable charger.
We've been waiting for a solution to the MacBook Air’s battery issue since its release, and the idea of an external battery is a good one that's failed to materialise – mainly because Apple refuses to license out the MagSafe connector used on its MacBooks.
Of course, the Powergorilla charges up far more than just the MacBook Air. Indeed, the device comes with 27 adaptors to connect it to everything from mobile phones to game consoles and, of course, iPods. It also sports a built-in USB socket, so it really can charge up just about any device.
A small LED screen on the front shows the current level of charge and a single button lets you choose the Output voltage from 16, 19 and 24 volts. According to the manufacturer, the Powergorilla has a range of protection features, including voltage limitation, current limitation, short circuit protection, anti-discharge, overcharge and overheat protection. It can also be charged internationally and comes with a range of adaptors for the external power supply.
Measuring 215 x 113 x 17mm and weighing in at 636g, the Powergorilla isn't a pocket solution, but it's not an unreasonable addition to any laptop case. While it isn't the prettiest device, Powertraveller has included a nice neoprene case complete with inside pockets for any adaptors.
While its versatility is appreciated, it was specifically the touted MacBook Air compatibility that caught our interest. The way that Powertraveller has got around Apple's MagSafe ban is to provide an in-flight adaptor socket (essentially a round car-lighter socket) and asks you to purchase an Apple MagSafe Airline Adaptor (£29) from Apple.
Plug the MagSafe Airline Adaptor into the in-flight adaptor and connect it to the PowerGorilla and you're away. It provides an extra two to five hours of battery power (depending on whether you have AirPort switched on) and we found it to be a very workable, if somewhat inelegant, solution.
While there are other solutions of varying quality in the US, this is the first reliable external battery solution for the MacBook Air that we've seen in the UK, and it's well worth considering. At £150 it's expensive, and even though Apple, not Powertraveller, is to blame the product would be much better with a built-in MagSafe connector.