While rechargeable players are generally a lot better than their AA/AAA powered predecessors, you might end up stuck in nowhere with a dead battery. Luckily there are battery packs you can carry with you, such as the Callpod Fueltank that Grahm reviewed a while ago. A cheaper, smaller such battery pack is the Duracell Instant Charger.
The Instant Charger is very small and compact, being about the same size as a Sony E340. Most of the battery pack is matte textured plastic with part of the front being glossy plastic. It has a small half-circled golden log and Duracell branding which is very iconic for anything Duracell and you can instantly tell who made it even if the logo hadn’t been there. It has a mini USB port in one end for charging the battery pack and a standard USB port in the other end for connecting various USB cables. It also has an on/off switch on the side. It feels very well built and gives a nice quality feel to it. With devices such as these you want it to have some safety measures built in so it doesn’t fry your player or something like that, so having a brand name battery pack like Duracell is a good idea.
Capacity and compatibility
Being this small it obviously has a smaller battery than the larger battery packs like the FuelTank, but it still holds a reasonable 1150mAh. This means that with no energy loss (which isn’t likely but for sake of the example) it should be able to provide about a full charge on players like the S9, P3 etc and 1.5-3 charges on smaller players. The battery pack can output 600mA which doesn’t allow for quick charging on devices that support drawing more amps than the USB standard and it also means you can’t charge several devices using a splitter cable/USB hub etc, but it’s enough to charge a single device at a time. As for charging the battery pack itself, it will draw up to 800mA which means you can lower the charge time by using a USB wall charger that outputs 800mA or more (USB ports are normally 600-700mA, so it’s not a huge difference).
As for compatibility, USB chargers are never as simple as “it works”. Apple devices for instance require a certain charge applied to the data pins via resistors from the power pins to charge, which this actually supports. Other manufacturers such as Samsung etc have other means of making some USB chargers useless such as needing the two middle pins to be connected. I’ve tried this on the devices I have around; Philips Spark, Sony S540 and E340, Archos 5 Android, Sansa Clip+, iPhone 3GS as well as FiiO S3 and PS1110 portable speakers and they all worked. The Sony players used to not want to charge from any USB charger, but I don’t know if Sony changed this or if the charger actually supports it- I don’t have any older Sony players to test with, nor any Creative or Samsung players.
The Instant Charger has a standard USB port so you can use either the (awesome) tiny mini USB cable or any other proprietary cable (or micro USB cable etc) to charge- you don’t need to buy $10 tips like with the FuelTank. The mini USB cable that comes with the battery pack is the smallest I’ve ever seen (that is a cable not a plug)- even smaller than the one that come with some players like the Sansa Clip(+). It sounds weird to have a favorite USB cable, but this one is that for me.
The Duracell Instant Charger is small and well built, doesn’t require any extra expensive tips and have enough juice to save the day- even if it’s not the device for bringing on a 2 months hike as your only source of power. The size and the awesome $25 price tag at Amazon makes it the ideal emergency charger. Other battery packs are often bigger and more expensive with the result they’re too big to carry around everywhere and too expensive to be justified under the “just in case my MP3 player dies”-budget. Overall it’s great value for money and highly recommended.