We’re barely three months into 2020, but the Chargeasap Flash battery pack could go down as Gadget of the Year for tech-toting travellers.
The first thing you’ll notice about the Chargeasap Flash is its sheer bulk. While having the same footprint as a modern smartphone, it’s almost 3cm thick and tips the scales at a no-nonsense 470 grams, which means it’ll add a little extra heft to your carry-on bag.
But like a bulging bodybuilder, the Flash is all muscle. Its capacity of 20,000mAh makes the comma in that measurement irrelevant: you’re holding in your hand a solid 20Ah of power.
That’s enough to fully recharge any 13” laptop (including the big-battery’d MacBook Pro) or deliver 4-5 charges for the latest large-screen smartphones.
In short, it’s like carrying a compact Tesla Powerwall in your pocket. The connection is more than fanciful – the Flash is built around Tesla’s graphene composite battery technology, using four lithium-polymer-graphene cells manufactured by Panasonic.
Compared to conventional cells, their higher energy density packs 20% more power per square inch and also extends the battery cycle lifespan: Chargeasap claims the Flash will last “up to four times longer than standard batteries”, and backs this by a two-year warranty.
So how does it all come together on the road? Executive Traveller has been spending some time with a production preview model of the Flash, which is currently in its final month on Indiegogo at A$256 (US$169) ahead of a public release from May at A$452 (US$299).
This included a quick trip to Singapore, where the Flash served as our primary gadget charging device. The 20Ah capacity is well-chosen: it’s the maximum you can confidently carry on your flight. Many airlines will allow up to 27Ah, but some Asian carriers have reduced this to 20Ah, which means anything larger could be confiscated at customs.
In addition to being powerful, the Flash is flexible. It’s topped by two USB-A ports and one USB-C port, with a 10W Qi wireless pad on the front offering easy drop-and-charge for the likes of smartphones, smartwatches and the latest earbuds.
However, upgrading your order to the Flash 2 for a measly US$8 is a no-brainer. Developed during the Indiegogo campaign in response to feedback, the Flash 2 adds a second USB-C port and adds pass-through power to the USB-C port so you can charge up your laptop and the Flash 2 at the same time.
Having a handful of USB ports is one thing, but supplying each socket with sufficient juice and power-management smarts is something else – and this is where the Flash pulls away from being Just Another Portable Battery Pack.
The USB-C ports can supply up to 100W, while the USB-A ports ratchet up to 40W, so there’s plenty of juice to go around.
Support for Power Delivery 3.0, QualComm Quick Charge 3.0 and Programmable Power Supply modes will ensure your device is served with as much power as it can safely handle – including fast-charge smartphones (even proprietary technology such as Huawei’s SuperCharge) and laptops.
And despite its insane capacity, the Flash’s own fast-charge capability can send the needle from empty to 80% in about half an hour. This does, however, call for a special 100W-rated cable containing an E-Mark chip to safely throttle the input power levels.
Set aside an extra $30 for that, or plug in a conventional USB cable (the Flash doesn’t include one) and accept a more leisurely charge-up.
Other optional extras from Chargeasap will include a ‘universal' USB-C laptop cable with DC plugs for Acer, Alienware, Asus, Dell, HP, Huawei and Lenovo notebooks (US$19) and a folding solar panel array to charge your Flash with raw sunlight (price TBA).
Encased in aircraft-grade aluminium, the Flash has a functional, no-mucking-about look – choose black instead of silver and it’s cryptically Bento Box, although the circular wireless charging pad also makes it look a bit like Darth Vader’s iPod.
If you’re hesitant about backing a crowd-funded project, rest easy: ChargeASAP has a solid track record on Indiegogo, with five previous campaigns all focussing on innovative tech-forward mobile accessories.
Regardless of whether you jump in now or wait until it hits the shelves, we think the Flash will find a home in your carry-on bag for years to come.