OMNICHARGE OMNI 20 USB-C BAT­TERY PACK: FAST CHARGER CAN HAN­DLE TWO LAP­TOPS AT ONCE

Macworld (USA) - - Mac User - BY GLENN FLEISHMAN

There’s noth­ing on the mar­ket like the Omni 20 USB-C ( go.mac­world.com/om20), a sturdy and well-de­signed charg­ing pack that has a 73 watt-hour (Wh)/20100 mil­lam­pere­hour (mah) ca­pac­ity. Un­for­tu­nately, its par­tic­u­lar set of fea­tures mean it works best for a spe­cific set of users in­stead of most lap­top own­ers with USB-C charg­ing ports.

Its fea­ture list is quite long. The Omni pack has two USB-C and two USB Type-a ports. It can out­put 100 watts to­tal from its two USB-C ports si­mul­ta­ne­ously (max 60W from each one) via Power De­liv­ery (PD) 2.0 sup­port, and recharge its in­ter­nal bat­ter­ies at a max­i­mum of 45W to­tal from ei­ther port or both ports at once. It also can push up to 15W from both its Type-a ports and at the same time.

That high rate of out­put from USB-C means it can keep most Macbook Pro mod­els (ex­cept the high­est-end model) al­ways charg­ing at full speed while they’re in use, as if they were plugged into AC power. And be­ing able to charge two

lap­tops at once at nearly full-speed rates is a bonus not found else­where.

The com­pany says the bat­tery recharges in three hours. The math may seem wrong when you take its 73Wh ca­pac­ity and di­vide it by 45W, but lithi­u­mion bat­ter­ies have to slow down charg­ing as they reach ca­pac­ity to avoid over­charg­ing. In test­ing, I con­firmed that recharge per­for­mance. Re­mark­ably and uniquely, it can recharge over USB-C while also charg­ing an­other de­vice.

You can even tune its recharge set­tings through an LCD front panel dis­play and have it dis­charge to no lower than 10 per­cent and charge to no higher than 90 per­cent if you want to max­i­mize bat­tery per­for­mance over its life­time. The com­pany says with the de­fault 0/100 per­cent max­i­mums, the pack will han­dle the equiv­a­lent 500 com­plete charges be­fore it can only hold about 70 per­cent of its orig­i­nal ca­pac­ity. At 10/90 per­cent, that num­ber nearly dou­bles, it says in its mar­ket­ing ma­te­ri­als. It of­fers 5/95 per­cent and 20/80 per­cent as well. (A clever use of three front-panel but­tons lets you nav­i­gate through menus for bat­terycharg­ing, dis­play set­tings, and gen­eral in­for­ma­tion.)

Where this bat­tery shines is if you want de­tailed in­for­ma­tion about the bat­tery pack’s charg­ing and dis­charge sta­tus, and an es­ti­mate of the time left to charge when it’s plugged into power. The LCD screen shows way too much in­for­ma­tion for most peo­ple, but if you’re man­ag­ing mul­ti­ple de­vices and on long trips away from power, you might ap­pre­ci­ate know­ing ex­actly how far the bat­tery has charged and other vari­ables. It also wonk­ishly shows in­for­ma­tion typ­i­cally only found on bat­tery mon­i­tors, like the cur­rent wattage of power go­ing in or out.

With a com­puter or other host con­nected to USB-C, the bat­tery pack turns into a USB hub, al­low­ing file trans­fer us­ing the other USB-C port and the two Type-a ports.

TEST RE­SULTS

The Omni 20 USB-C per­formed very in­ef­fi­ciently com­pared to our best-in-class

PD 2.0 pick, the Anker Pow­ercore+ 26800 PD with 27W PD Portable Charger Bun­dle ( go.mac­world.com/a27w). In test­ing the Omni model with a 2015 Macbook with an al­most empty bat­tery, the Omni bat­tery pack trans­ferred about 29Wh at full power in just un­der two hours. (The Macbook can be charged at 30W.) How­ever, ac­cord­ing to the Omni’s LCD, it used up about 46Wh of its in­ter­nal ca­pac­ity, which is about 65 per­cent ef­fi­cient. The Anker model used about 45Wh to charge the same Macbook to its full in­ter­nal roughly 40Wh ca­pac­ity, or over 85 per­cent ef­fi­cient. When the Omni had fully charged the Macbook, it only had about 25 per­cent of its in­ter­nal ca­pac­ity re­main­ing. That pairs poorly with its rel­a­tively low 73Wh ca­pac­ity.

The other down­side to this low ca­pac­ity and in­ef­fi­ciency is the Omni 20

USB-C’S cost rel­a­tive to watt hours. Our Anker pick con­tains

96Wh of charge for $110 (street price). That price in­cludes the

27W AC charger; the Omni doesn’t come with a power charger. The Omni pack costs about $2.75 per watt-hour com­pared to $1.14 per watt-hour on the Anker. (The Anker weighs about 20 per­cent more due to its higher ca­pac­ity.)

How­ever, the Anker model only has a sin­gle USB-C port which maxes out at 30W, and lacks any LCD dis­play. If you only need to charge a sin­gle Macbook or Macbook Pro, and ca­pac­ity is more your con­cern than recharge speeds, the Anker wins out. How­ever, if you want the higher rates of charg­ing and recharg­ing, an ad­di­tional USB-C port, or other Omni 20 USB-C– spe­cific fea­tures, it’s the right choice.

BOT­TOM LINE

Omnicharge could have a truly win­ning prod­uct with higher-ca­pac­ity in­ter­nal bat­tery cells—the in­di­vid­ual pieces linked to­gether for a pack—and bet­ter power-con­ver­sion cir­cuitry. If they brought the bat­tery closer to 100Wh, the max­i­mum al­lowed for carry-on lithium-ion bat­tery packs, and in­creased ef­fi­ciency to 75 per­cent or higher, it would make it a much bet­ter propo­si­tion.

As it stands, the Omni 20 USB-C’S price per watt-hour com­pared to com­peti­tors along with its low ca­pac­ity and weak ef­fi­ciency are draw­backs to an oth­er­wise ex­cel­lent prod­uct.

Pick the Omni 20 USB-C with­out re­gret if you travel with high-wattage de­vices, like high-end Macbook Pros, or want to charge two lap­tops at the same time quickly to a par­tial re­fill, as well as rapidly recharge the bat­tery pack. ■

The Omni 20 USB-C has two USB-C and two Type A charg­ing ports, along with a de­tailed LCD sta­tus screen.

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