Dell Power Companion Review
- High capacity
- Multiple USB ports
- Charging works well
Could be better
- Only charges a small range of Dell laptops
- Charges only from a Dell laptop charger
Dell laptop users who need to keep both laptops and mobile gadgets charged are well served by Dell’s Power Companion external battery pack.
Absolute power allegedly corrupts you, but in the technology world not having enough power is a genuine problem. Nobody likes their laptop, tablet or mobile phone going flat at a critical juncture, and even the stress of seeing your device below optimal charge is a bad thing. Dell’s Power Companion is designed to be your one-stop shop for charging a variety of devices, including a range of Dell’s own portable laptops.
|Output||2x USB Type A 5V-2.1A 1|
DC power jack 19.5 V - 2.3 A
Upsides: Why you’d want the Dell Power Companion
- High capacity: With 12,000mAh capacity, the battery can provide a good support charge to your laptop, or many charges of any smartphone you’re liable to throw at it without running out of charge. As such, you could use it over multiple days to keep devices charged without having to worry about the battery itself running out of juice.
- Multiple USB ports: Dell clearly sells the Power Companion primarily to laptop users, but if you’re using other gadgets on the go that keep running out of power, you can top up their charges as well.
- Charging works well: We tested with a variety of secondary gadgets, including Apple’s iPhone 6s, Samsung’s Galaxy S7 Edge and even a Microsoft Surface 3 tablet. All picked up charge well from the Dell Power Companion, although it’s worth noting the Surface 3 wouldn’t charge and operate simultaneously.
Downsides: Why you might not want the Dell Power Companion
- Only charges a small range of Dell laptops: The output of the battery pack only suits a small range of Dell laptop models for actual charging. Specifically for this model, Dell advises compatibility with the Inspiron 7548/7437, XPS 9343, Latitude E7350/E7250/E7450/E5250/E5450/E5550/3450/3550/3150 and Latitude 7404/7204/5404 lines. So what happens if you plug in a different Dell laptop? The plug may well fit, but it doesn’t provide a suitable charge. One of the Dell laptops incompatible with the charger that we tested with it gave a very specific warning to this effect, so at least you won’t damage your laptop or think that it’s charging when it’s not.
- Charges only from a Dell laptop charger: Unlike competing battery packs that tend to charge over a microUSB connection, the Dell battery pack only charges from a compatible Dell laptop charger. A standard microUSB charger would take an age to charge a battery pack of this capacity, but it would be useful to have cross-compatibility. One upside here is that the charger for our otherwise incompatible Dell laptop charged the Power Companion nicely.
Who is it best suited for? What are my other options?
Battery packs are nothing new, although the recent frenzy around Pokémon GO has brought them back to the forefront. Dell’s take on an external battery pack scores well with us for overall capacity and its ability to keep its specified range of Dell laptops charged as well as your mobile devices.
That being said this is a niche product for a specific niche audience, because you can grab a regular USB-only battery pack with this kind of capacity by itself pretty easily.
Where can I get it?
Dell sells the Power Companion via its web site in a couple of different configurations for an outright price of $179.