Dell Power Companion review: Charge your laptop on the go – PCWorld

We’re all conditioned to carry a spare battery charger when we’re hunting Pokemon, but when your Dell XPS needs more juice on the go, what do you do?

Enter Dell’s Power Companion (found on Amazon for about $95), essentially a big-ass battery that connects to a laptop for a quick recharge. While at first glance you might confuse the Power Companion with your run-of-the-mill giant smartphone charger, there are a few key differences. 

Not your generic battery pack

The first difference is that those battery packs can only charge phones and low-power tablets with their 5-volt output over USB. Full-power laptops need a lot more juice than that, so the Dell Power Companion puts out 19.5 volts. 

Those generic battery packs are also themselves charged via low-voltage USB. The Dell Power Companion charges using the laptop’s own power brick, by way of the barrel connector. So no, you can’t charge the Power Companion using your phone or tablet’s USB charger but there’s a huge advantage in charging speed.

The typical generic large battery pack might take a half a day (some even a full day) to charge from zero. But by feeding off the 19.5 volts of the laptop’s power brick, the Dell Power Companion can recharge in less than a couple of hours.

And, of course, you can’t run your Dell laptop off a generic power brick. The Dell Power Companion I reviewed is the larger (15.4 ounces) 18,000 mAh model. Dell also makes a 12,000 mAh model for its USB-C laptops. Although Dell doesn’t seem to bless it, I was able to swap the USB-C cable from the smaller unit onto the larger one and charge both the Dell XPS 13 and the 2015 MacBook from it without problem.

dell power companion 1 Gordon Mah Ung

You get two USB Type A ports that put out 2 amps, plus inputs for both popular Dell power bricks.

On top of that you get a pair of USB Type A ports for charging other devices; both are rated for 2 amps, which I confirmed using a USB power meter. Again, the brick does not charge using the standard micro-USB port of generic bricks, so it features two plugs that are compatible with the majority of Dell power bricks sold today.

There’s another proprietary plug that connects the Dell Power Companion to your laptop using an included pigtail. This Dell Power Companion model includes both the thick barrel plug and the thin barrel plug.

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