Review: HyperMac External MacBook Battery – “Heavy”-Duty power

HyperMac battery

These days Apple seems to be on a big “Who would ever need an extra battery?” kick, what with non-user-removable batteries being found in pretty much every device it makes. But there are literally dozens of reasons why you might find your MacBook’s non-replaceable battery out of juice while far from a charger. Apple may claim its latest batteries deliver over 7 hours of computing power, but that’s under optimal conditions, such as performance turned down, screen brightness set low, and the only sanctioned activity being light e-mail/web use. In reality I have trouble watching a full two-hour movie on my 15-inch MacBook Pro unless I throttle things down quite a bit, and who wants to live like that?

HyperMac battery

Well, enter the HyperMac external battery by HyperDrive. Available in 4 capacities and ranging in price from $200 to $500, the HyperMac can theoretically provide provide enough power to keep your Mac running for up to a full DAY. I say “theoretically” because HyperDrive’s battery life claims are based on extrapolating Apple’s own Wireless productivity tests. So for example, the HyperMac 222Wh is 6 times the capacity of the MacBook Air’s internal 37Wh battery. Since Apple claims that the MacBook Air internal 37Wh battery is good for up to 4.5 hours of wireless productivity, a fully charged HyperMac 222Wh together with the MacBook Air internal 37Wh battery would give 31.5 hours (7 x 4.5 hours) of wireless productivity. There’s also a USB port on the front of the unit which HyperDrive claims can recharge an iPhone 52 times on a single charge (although being a two iPhone, two iPod touch household I would have preferred TWO ports, if HyperDrive is looking for suggestions for the next model). To top it off, the HyperMac comes with its own MagSafe connector, and intelligent charge monitoring that allows it to charge both a MacBook and MacBook Pro. The HyperMac takes just under 4 hours to fully charge.

HyperMac battery

My “Real World” Test

As I mentioned before, I have never experienced Apple’s claimed battery-life times. While they may be accurate under ideal conditions, lite web browsing at 50% brightness is not the way I roll – plus I didn’t have a full day to devote to testing the HyperMac (I tested the BIG 222Wh model). So, I devised my own test. I cranked up my MacBook Pro to Full brightness, “high-performance” (under Energy Saver settings), and then set an MP4 of the movie “300” to loop at full screen. 300 clocks in at almost exactly two-hours, so I felt it would make for a good test, as I am mathematically challenged. The results of the test showed some pretty impressive results. I was able to watch the movie 3.5 times before the HyperMac’s battery ran dry, an astounding 7 hours. (Well, 6 hours, 54 minutes). Once drained my MacBook Pro’s internal battery only lasted another 1 hour and 40 minutes before shutting itself off in power-saving mode, meaning I got about 8 hours and 35 minutes of combined movie watching at full power (with occasional web-browsing thrown in for good measure). That’s roughly a 5 time increase in battery life. That’s pretty damn good.

HyperMac battery

So, who wants this?

Depending on the capacity you buy (60/100/150/222Wh) the HyperMac is roughly the size of a LaCie external hard drive, but about twice as heavy. I tested the 222Wh model (the largest capacity available) and it is close to 5 lbs in weight. While this may sound heavy, (and I suppose in the portable world it IS) 5 pounds is not all that much to add to your load in the situations where you would conceivably use the HyperMac. For instance, if you were out shooting video on location and needed to do on-site editing or unloading of footage from P2 cards, odds are you are already lugging around a couple bags of equipment, and something the size of the HyperMac would go unnoticed. Another scenario I envisioned would be going camping for a week, and using the HyperMac to charge your iPhone – or any number of USB devices – throughout the entire trip. (Getting back to nature is nice, but you need your phone).

HyperMac battery
You can simultaneously charge a Mac AND an iPhone at the same time on the HyperMac.


Pros and Cons

Well, there are 3 main issues I could see one conceivably having with the HyperMac – Price, weight, and need. Let’s take “need” out of the equation, and go with the assumption you are looking for something like the HyperMac. As I mentioned earlier, I personally feel that the size and weight of the HyperMac are not really all that bad – it can easily fit at the bottom of my computer bag, and 5 pounds isn’t going to kill me. But the price thing… that might give many of you pause.

However, if you factor in the performance of the HyperMac (a 5x increase in battery life) for $500, it is a bit of a steal, as buying 5 external batteries for my MacBook Pro would cost me $650 ($130 each), and likely take up more space and weigh more (not to mention requiring a power-off to swap). And of course, that’s assuming you have a MacBook where you CAN swap the battery. Plus you can use it as an extra MagSafe charger (another $80 value). AND, HyperDrive is currently throwing in their $150 MacBook car charger for the three priciest models.

HyperMac battery
It may not look like much, but this is normally $150

HyperMac battery

Conclusion

Not everyone will be able to justify the price of the HyperMac battery, but for those who need it, you will not be disappointed. If you ever find yourself out and about with your Mac and not an outlet in sight, the HyperMac is a stylish, compact (if not slightly heavy), and surprisingly economical solution to your problem.

Price: $199-$499 depending on capacity

Pros: Works as advertised, relatively compact, stylish, USB port for charging iPhones/iPods, unit doubles as an extra Magsafe charger, free car charger (top 3 models only)

Cons: Heavy and pricey (although not as unreasonably as it may at first appear)

Comments
16 Responses to “Review: HyperMac External MacBook Battery – “Heavy”-Duty power”
  1. Johnny says:

    I bought the 150 Wh version before taking off on my 20 day trip to China. The unit worked flawlessly throughout the whole trip. I never had any issues with charging it or running my MacBook Pro 15 on the journey.

    I can’t give it enough praise.

    Johnny

  2. The Lab says:

    We might pick one of these up.

  3. @The Lab,
    Just be sure to bend with your knees.
    🙂
    (I kid, it’s not that heavy).
    – The Doc

  4. Jayson says:

    “not to mention requiring a power-off to swap”

    Actually, you can put the laptop to sleep, and swap the batteries without turning it off. They have a small internal battery that can keep them powered in sleep for several minutes.

  5. dave says:

    What’s stupid, is that the price of this product is WAY more expensive than it has to be, because Apple won’t license the Magsafe connector. So this company needs to buy an Apple power supply at retail, then cut the cable and throw away the rest of it. Good for Apple (I guess), but back for this company, for consumers, and for the environment.

  6. Daniel says:

    Very cool review, I need one!

  7. Eric says:

    Hi Doc. I’m glad we arrived to the same conclusion, The 222 MBPa big, heavy damn good product for a pro. But it’s too everything for a normal user.

    I testes the exact same model as you in my “24 hour experiment”. YEah you guessed it, working during 24 hours (well it was my goal…) out of a plug.

    You can see my review here :
    http://www.klakinoumi.com/2009/05/25/the-24-hours-experiment-le-film-24-heures-sur-une-batterie-hypermac/

    Keep up the good work man.

  8. nebu says:

    is it charging while useing? and why dont u plug in the devices in the macbook? is an usb multiadapter not a solution?

  9. Michael says:

    Let me get this straight, I can go out and buy this battery and haul it around to get extra use, And it comes with a mag safe tip. BUT, I can’t get a mag safe tip for my IGo because Apple won’t license to them. I don’t for one second believe the company is buying up power supplies and cutting the cord. This doesn’t interfere with sales of power adapters that Apple makes money off of. This is really wrong on the part of Apple.

  10. Philippe says:

    I bought the 150 model. Performance is great, it lasted 27:30hours on my MacBook air. I fing the gauge indicators not very useful, you need to press the button to see how much battery is left. I also think the user guide is very bad. It is very heavy, had I knows the battery wasgoing to last that long, I would have chosen a smaller battery but when I bought it I figured I would divide by 2 to 3 the specs given to get closer to reality… I was so wrong, it works as advertised for me ( normal use, I don’t play movies, I just work;-) )
    A MUST FOR FREQUENT TRAVELLERS

  11. GekkePrutser says:

    “Actually, you can put the laptop to sleep, and swap the batteries without turning it off. They have a small internal battery that can keep them powered in sleep for several minutes.”

    I’m pretty sure that small battery was discontinued after Apple invented Smart Sleep (where it stores a hibernate image). This was during the PowerBook age, so none of the MacBook Pro’s would still have this battery anymore. They will come back from sleep just fine though by restoring the hibernate image.

    PS I’m pretty sure but not completely, but I can’t test it as my MBP has a non-removable battery too 😉

  12. mikegyver says:

    We are the first to offer magsafe solutions for the Macbook line of computers. Our solutions WILL work with your existing universal adapters such as the AC/DC Kensington or iGo adapters!

    mikegyver.com

  13. HyperMac says:

    We at HyperMac wish to state for the record that HyperMac bears no affiliation to Mikegyver.com

    Neither does Mikegyver.com sell any HyperMac product or any product covered in this review.

    It is regretable that Mikegyver.com chooses to use unsolicited spam as their main form of marketing.

    By placing advertisements in comments with words very similar to the HyperMac marketing copy, it is clear that Mikegyver.com sole intention is to misled readers and create confusion amongst consumers.

    Mikegyver.com advertisement/spam/comments are found in no less than five (5) HyperMac related reviews.

    We have complained to the site owner and this notice will be in place until the offending post is removed.

  14. dave says:

    Hypermac,

    Why are you using Quickertek’s and Mikegyver’s name within your website’s meta -tags then?

    Seems like you just need to look in the mirror.

  15. John Peterson MD says:

    Batterygeek.net has had these batteries for eons, though only in black and silver, for a lot less and they also include a free canvas carry case and a laptop cooling pad. Their 115Wh battery, for example, is $239 and their 222Wh battery is $475. Same size, same case shape, probably the same battery, though it’s hard to tell since the HyperMac site is more interested in displaying their models holding the batteries, as opposed to showing the batteries themselves. HyperMac also claims to have the world’s only external battery which works with all MacBooks and iPhones which is obviously not the truth.

  16. rick says:

    yes, batterygeek not only has a variety of battery packs it also has a usb port (not sure if it can charge the ipad) but it comes with other tips in a case and you also get a magasfe like connector and works with a bunch of devices, netbooks, etc. They have a car charger as well for the same price. The battery pack does not charge some macbooks but i believe it does some. I bought one 3 years ago for my black macbook and like it which is why i am wondering if i should get a hypermac one. If they offered me the car kit with 60 watt hour i get that.

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