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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Review: Versa Battery

This will be my last post here for a while.  I am now part of the writing team at  All of my future posts will be featured there, although I will give you the first paragraph and a link to the articles on the new blog.  But now, what you have been expecting:  A review for the Versa Battery!

Recently, I was given the opportunity to review Versatile Studio's VS190 portable battery.  Versatile designed this battery to compliment and work well with the Macbook Pro line of computers.  In order to test this unit properly, I hooked it up to one of Apple's new 15" i7 Macbook Pros with Anti-Glare.  I will discuss this battery on a number of levels, including aesthetics, portability, truth to advertiser's claims, and usability.

The battery itself is artfully designed.  It contrasts well with the Macbook Pro hardware, and can very conveniently be set underneath or beside the Macbook Pro to rest.  The size of the battery is also very well-considered.  It is small enough to fit in your laptop bag without making it too bulky.  The machined edges of the battery's casing also make it appeal more to the design of the Macbook Pro.
More important than the looks of the product, however, is how it functions.  According to the manufacturer, the Versa Battery is capable of providing 6 additional hours of power at full processor load with an external high-res camera attached.  They also claim that you can use two of the three power ports (12v, 19v, 5vUSB) at the same time, with no decrease in performance.  To test these claims, I first determined how long my Mac would last in a certain situation - it turns out that if I use my Macbook Pro to broadcast 1080P video footage to an HDTV (in this case, I was broadcasting Star Trek via VLC), I get 2 hrs, 21 minutes of battery life.  The fans run at just over 3000RPM, and the processor load is over 60%.  With the Versa Battery, however, I was able to broadcast continually for an impressive 7 hrs, 49 minutes.

The next test was continually using two ports at the same time.  I just happened to have a 12v portable DVD player, which I plugged in to the unit alongside my Macbook Pro.  I set both tasks to activities with high power draw, which worked flawlessly for the life of the battery.  USB draw also provided excellent results - this battery can power my iPhone for a seemingly infinite amount of time!  It also (rather importantly) provides an auxilary USB port to use for power - in case you have a high-draw USB device like some USB hard drives, you can use it without monopolizing all of the drives on your MBP.  It seems, then, that the product is true to it's manufacturer's promises as far I as can determine.  This is unsurprising, as the unit not only seems well-built from the look and feel, but also sports the appropriate hardware - a 190Wh battery (The new MBP's sport a 77.5Wh battery, meaning this, by spec alone, more than triples battery capacity).

Now, to discuss usability.  Before using the battery (which ships completely drained), you must charge it to 100%.  In my test, this took over 4 hours.  However, another way to look at that is an "overnight charge," since you can't overcharge it by leaving it plugged it.  The battery also comes with a large number of adapters, as well as a modified Magsafe cable for usage with a Macbook Pro.  The included tips work with the majority of laptops on the market.  It also comes with extension cables, which provides additional usefulness.  As a freelance computer tech, I can see myself using this all the time when working with people's laptops.
To conclude, I have some difficulty finding a serious fault with this product.  It performs as promised, delivers incredible amounts of extra power, is stylish and well-designed, and is portable enough to easily slip into a backpack or briefcase.  I give this battery a high recommendation, especially for the price ($350, plus a nominal shipping fee.)  For more information on the Versa Battery, or to purchase one, check out the product website.

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