EcoFlow's River Bank lets you load up on mobile power and still get past airport security - CNET

EcoFlow's River Bank lets you load up on mobile power and still get past airport security - CNET
EcoFlow's River Bank lets you load up on mobile power and still get past airport security - CNET

Last year, portable power startup EcoFlow launched its first product, the EcoFlow River. It's a mobile power station with a huge capacity of 412Wh or 116,000mAh with a total output of 500 watts, able to charge up to 11 devices simultaneously. What's more, it can hold a full charge for up to a year, making it an ideal backup battery for emergencies. 

However, although it is portable, it's still big and packs too much power to bring on a plane since FAA regulations (PDF) limit you to lithium ion (rechargeable) batteries with a rating of no more than 100 watt hours (Wh) per battery without airline approval. So for its second product, EcoFlow took the River and sliced it up to give you the power of a big battery in a smaller package or, more correctly, packages. 

Instead of one big battery, the upcoming River Bank, is made of a main 94Wh, 25600mAh battery module that will join with other modules to create one power source to do everything from charge your phone and laptop to jump-start your car. 

The main module features two bidirectional USB-C ports and two USB-A ports with Quick Charge 3.0 and on top is a Qi-standard wireless charging pad. The preproduction unit I tested out worked with both an iPhone X and a Galaxy S7 and the pad is large enough to charge an Apple Watch and a phone at the same time.

The bidirectional ports let you simultaneously charge devices and the module. You can also use both USB-C ports to charge the module's battery at the same time to fully charge it in about an hour. And it can hold a full charge for six months. A real-time LED display on front lets you monitor output and remaining power. Plus, you can use the module as a USB hub. 

To boost your charging capabilities, the main module can be stacked on a 44Wh car module or a 94Wh AC module. The car module has a single USB-C port as well as connectors for attaching a set of jumper cables. When fully charged, this module can jump-start a car up to 10 times. The AC module has a single USB-C port too, but is joined by a 100-watt AC socket. 

The River Bank's modules stack to increase battery capacity. Sarah Tew/CNET

Two sets of pogo pins on the modules connect when stacked to allow power to flow from one to the other. The modules are held together with strong magnets so you don't have to worry about them separating in use. It's a clever, elegant design that can go with you anywhere, regardless of how you travel. 

That said, the main module is not lightweight, coming in at about 2 pounds (0.9 kg). Also, it's not cheap: You can preorder the River Bank for $199 through Indiegogo (that's about £150 or AU$265). The car module costs an additional $99 (roughly £150; AU$265) or $149 (around £150; AU$265) for the AC module. Still, if you travel like I do with a phone, laptop, tablet and usually a GoPro, a digital SLR and occasionally a drone, it sure would be nice to stay charged up and ready for whatever and not have to hunt for an outlet.

EcoFlow expects the River Bank to start shipping this summer or fall to Australia, Canada, Europe, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan and the United States.

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