Review: Digital Treasures Props Power Case for iPad mini
With each new model Apple releases of its iDevces, two things are certain. First, Apple will reduce the thickness of the device. Second, Apple will claim the device has the same, or perhaps even slightly more battery life than the previous model. However, as someone who uses their iDevices pretty much all day, every day, I can’t help but wonder what the battery life would be on a 5th generation iPad that was the same thickness as a generation 1 iPad (which was by no means a hulking piece of equipment).
Anyway, Apple is Apple, and if we want real-life, all-day battery life from our Apple gear, we’ll need external batteries. My first look at an iPad mini battery pack comes via Digital Treasures, and their Digital Treasures Props Power Case .
Like most portfolio cases, the Props Power Case can be folded back on itself to create a viewing stand for hands-free movie watching. There is a solid, magnetic latch that keeps the case closed when in a backpack, although there is mot the magnetic “wake/sleep” function that some portfolio cases come with.
On the side of the case there is power button – a two second press will cause the case to turn on and begin charging your device. The requisite row of blue LEDs indicates the pack’s current charge level. Inside, the iPad mini is held in place by well-fitting inner snap case of sorts. Overall the build quality and construction of the Power Pros feels well made.
In our tests of the 8000 mAh model, we were able to fully charge an iPad mini and get about a 60% charge on an fully dead iPhone 5 from one charge, so the Props certainly delivers on power.
Of course being well-contructed does not exactly mean it is without its design issues. First, the inner snap case makes reaching the iPad mini’s “sleep” button (located at the top corner of the mini) a bit difficult, which wouldn’t be a problem if the case caused the iPad to auto-sleep when closed, but it doesn’t, so it is a good idea to leave your iPad set to auto lock after a few moments.
Second, I can’t say I am a fan of the way the Props Power Case charges the mini. In total, to charge the iPad mini in the case, you will need THREE separate cables. Two of them are included – the first is a small, thin round plug that is used to charge the case (the other end is a standard USB connection you can plug into your computer or other USB wall adapter). The next plug is a mini-USB-to-Female-USB adapter, which allows you to plug in your OWN lightning cable (not included). So at the end of the day, you will likely have to buy yourself another lightning cable (unless you are really well-organized and think you can remember to keep track of it). I especially do not like the thin round cable that charges the case itself. It is very unusual, and not something you are likely to already have lying around the house when it gets bent or lost. It would have been nice if the props could have charged itself from more standard mini USB cable, but I suppose that would not have saved a cable, just saved a proprietary one. I DO however understand the logic behind this move, as it adds a versatility to the case, enabling it to charge pretty much ANY USB-powered device you own, not just the iPad mini. Still, this thing is physically fastened to your mini, and odds are that is what it will be charging 95% of the time (and the other 5% will probably be an iPhone 5) so why not just build in a short lightning cable?
The final issue with the case is not really an issue so much as a warning. The case is at least as heavy as the mini itself, so if you are an avid eBook reader on your mini, then there’s a chance the extra weight might cause hand fatigue. I think this is the case with pretty much any external battery, as batteries make up most of the weight in any Apple device, but just something to think about.
Digital Treasures’ Digital Treasures Props Power Case offers a travel-friendly, well-made portable charging solution, for not only the iPad mini, but pretty much ANY USB-powered device you may own. There IS a small issue of cable clutter, but the Props still earns high marks for its build construction and versatility.
Price: (Amazon) 1200 mAh model $74.18 / 8000 mAh model $66.99
Pros: Fairly slim, well-built, magnetic latch, can charge other USB devices
Cons: Heavy for extended reading, Lots of cables to keep track of, case does not auto sleep the mini