There are many portable powerbanks available from giants such as, Xiaomi, Anker, Ravpower, yet here at RC Geeks we stock Omnicharge. Introduced through a highly successful kickstarter, these flexible intelligent batteries have proved incredibly popular worldwide.
In a departure from our usual review, we decided to provide a professional with an Omnicharge unit to see one used ‘in its natural environment‘. We assisted drone pilot Phil Harris as camera operator for the day, to see how the Omni 20 could assist his work.
Omnicharge Omni 20 unboxing
The night before shooting, we take some time to familiarise ourselves with the product.
The Omni 20 intelligent charger features a 20,400 mAh capacity battery which should be good for charging everything from mobile phones to laptops. Its compact 12.7 x 12.2 x 2.7 cm chamfered body and svelte 630g weight mean it is easily portable.
The Omni 20 Pro bundle tested includes the Omni 20 charger, power adapter wall charger with international adapters and a USB to DC plug for charging it from car or solar power outputs. It also includes all the cables and DC plugs you could ever need to connect a multitude of devices. A DC to MagSafe 2 Cable, DC to Surface Cable and a host of laptop DC tips for Dell 4.5 x 3.0mm, HP 4.5 x 3.0mm, Lenovo square and 5.5 x 2.5mm. These cables are also available separately should you buy a different model.
The unit itself has one DC in/out jack, one AC 230v port on the opposite side and two USB ports on the front. This face also features the power button, mains/usb power switches and the OLED display.
Pressing and holding the power button for 2 seconds turns-on the omnicharge and you are greeted with a splash screen with the company logo. Pressing the mains/usb buttons enables/disables the ports. Tapping the power button twice activates the menu which is then navigated with the other two buttons, pressing the power button again to confirm a selection.
Omnicharge 20 Pro in use
Armed with a fully charged Omni 20 and a pocket full of adaptors, we set about a days filming.
08:00 : Hiking to the location
Excessive use of the iPhone as a satnav meant it was down to 50% battery, thankfully the Omnicharge could be slipped in the side pocket of a backpack where we could keep an eye on it charging the device via the USB ports.
The plastic coating has an almost rubberised feel to it, the device robust and resilient enough for charging on the move when walking. The USB outputs are efficient, allowing over 8 charges of this particular cellphone (iPhone 6).
12:00 : Lunchbreak
With a successful morning’s filming complete, it was time to review the rushes in a coffee shop. Some cafés aren’t fond of people charging their devices from the wall sockets and some are just so busy that other customers are already camped out by the outlets.
The Macbook pro itself had plenty of charge but it was a good time to test out the Magsafe cable, that enabled charging direct from the DC jack in the side of the Omni 20 to the laptop without having to carry around the white transformer. A few taps of the power button and top outlet button configured the device to output the 16.5v that the laptop requires.
We also tested out the AC transformer with the inspire 2’s 180w battery charger. Its important to note that the 100w max output on the Omni 20 meant that the charger took significantly longer to fill the TB50’s but it could prove a useful ability in a pinch. Sadly since we did not have a type C/F lead, we were forced to use the clunky 3-pin adaptor which meant raising the charger off of the table.
14:00 : Back on set
The DJI Go app can be quite battery intensive if you leave it running on the iPad. Whilst some ground filming was occuring, we used the downtime to top up the iPad’s via the front mounted USB slots. The top USB port can output 5v/3Amp with a maximum 15w charge.
16:00 : On route to the final location
We opt to top-off the power level of the omnicharge whilst driving to the last location of the day. The 5.5×2.1mm barrel is one of the most common, and the port will accept anything in the range of 4.5-36v DC meaning a vast selection of DC adaptors (or car chargers and even solar chargers) can be used to charge the Omni 20. We used the included USB to DC cable to (slowly) top off the battery from a 12v USB power adapter. As a bonus, the Omnicharge can charge whilst charging.
17:30 : The mobile office
With the shoot wrapped, we browse through some stills of the day whilst waiting for the digital intermediate technician to do their thing with our memory cards. Typically our laptop is nearly flat, but the Omni 20 Pro kit has the correct barrel adapter to take power from the DC output. Again its just a matter of working through the menu to select the correct output voltage (20v).
19:00 : Relaxing after work
Following a long days filming, Phil unwinds with yet more drone flying; This time a Ryze Tello drone for some casual fun in a friends field. Both the drone and the Gamesir T1s that he uses to fly it, can be charged from the USB outputs in a little over an hour.
21:00 : Out for the evening
After more sat-nav duty and a whole lot of instagram action, the iPhone battery is nearly depleted. Thankfully the Omni 20 is compact enough to fit in a large pocket, enabling phone charging in the restaurant and/or pub with what is left of the onboard charge.
Should I buy an Omnicharge?
There are several cheaper alternatives available for those on a budget but few can match Omnicharge in terms of capabilities. The Omni range really are the ‘swiss-army-knife‘ of portable chargers and have value beyond their core as a portable battery.
Following our field test, the Omni 20 Pro package is the model we would recommend, as the real potential of the device can only be unlocked with the full range of cables and tips. This package was only lacking protection, but Omnicharge do offer this excellent case which protects the device in transit and also has space for all the adaptors you might need.
Besides the efficiency losses, the only downside we could see was the limited capacity. This is doubtless a decision made to ensure the device is as compact as possible, however we would like to see higher capacity editions of say 30,000 or even 50,000 mAh in the future.