Review: BioLite’s Charge 80 Wants to Power Up Your Laptop
At $70, this portable power bank offers a lot of juice for a small price
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I own literally a dozen phone chargers in all shapes, sizes and forms — wireless, portable, solar-powered, etc.
But I don’t have a single one that can power up my laptop. And of the very few charging options that do have that kind of power, the portability is limited and the price tag prohibitive.
Last year BioLite, a Brooklyn-based outdoor gear brand, introduced the Charge-PD series, a line of portable power banks with one USB-A and two USB-C ports, which the company says could offer “safe, efficient charging up to 18W,” or more than three times faster than a traditional USB port. Available in 6,000mAh, 10,000mAh and 20,000mAh models, the line seemed ideal for powering everything from smartphones to, theoretically, laptops.
Since I had all the power options I needed for my phone and earbuds, I grabbed a review unit of the BioLite Charge 80 PD and used it for a week, primarily but not exclusively to power up my MacBook Pro.
- 20,000 mAh rechargeable battery
- Charges 13-inch laptop 1x, tablet 2x, smartphone 5x
- Can charge multiple devices at once
- 1x USB-C PD port, up to 18W
- 2x USB-A Quick Charge Out ports, charge up to 15W
- Quick Charge 3.0 Protocol
- FAA Carry-On Compliant
- Comes with one USB-A to USB-C cable
- 6.7 x 3.2 x 1.0 in
- The Charge is an extremely intuitive charger: Three ports, one button to check battery status, four LEDs to indicate the current charge level.
- You can power up two devices simultaneously while the device is plugged in and charging itself.
What kind of works:
- I didn’t have any issues charging up my smaller devices (including portable speakers) and doing so quickly. However, the sheer size/weight of the Charge 80 means you should really look to the more compact 20 or 40 models if you simply want a charger for your phone or earbuds.
- The device took about five hours to fully charge after being completely drained. While this is longer than other power banks I’ve used, it’s also doing a lot more work.
- When my laptop hit 10%, I plugged in a fully-powered Charge 80 — in four hours my MacBook Pro was up to 69% but the BioLite was out of juice. To be fair, it charged much faster when I wasn’t also working on it, so if you’re going to use this for your laptop, consider plugging it in when you’re not actively working.
- It’s admittedly not as powerful as other portable laptop chargers, but it’s smaller and a heck of a lot cheaper.
What needs work:
- While definitely rugged, nothing in the packaging suggests this device is waterproof or can survive drops (though it feels like it can). That said, the device will reportedly function in temperatures from -4F to 104F
- If you’re charging your laptop, you’ll need to provide your own USB-C to USB-C cable.
What others are saying:
“4/5 stars. It’s durable, easy to use and versatile enough to refuel smartphones, cameras, tablets and a laptop on long journeys and flights.” — T3
“4.5/5 stars. It doesn’t deliver the biggest batteries, the most ports, or the sleekest design. But, it does deliver a product that performs well in each of those categories, while also bringing the BioLite signature simplicity to the mix.” — Gearography
“Seeing it not be able to charge my laptop while I’m using it took some of my excitement away.” — The Gadgeteer
This isn’t the charger you want if you’re walking around and you want a quick boost for your phone — it’s a hefty brick. But if you’re on a flight or car trip — or just going somewhere with a laptop bag — the BioLite Charge 80 is an excellent resource for powering up multiple devices at once. As for a laptop charger? Consider this an emergency backup, and preferably don’t use it if you need to work on your computer while it’s powering up. If you think you’ll have access to wall plug, you may want to consider something more akin to the Anker PowerCore Fusion, which can pinch-hit as a portable power bank but also act as your computer’s wall charger.
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