Tuesday, September 9, 2014

mAh…what is it, and why you should care...what you need to know about buying logo'd power banks


This blog is about power, why it’s important, how to get it and how to keep it.

It’s not about political power or the personal power to influence and control people.

It’s even more important!

It’s about portable power for recharging all those devices we have and depend upon in our daily lives…smart phones, mp3 players, digital cameras, tablets, etc. Those devices that seem to run out of power at the absolute worst time.

Portable power banks, (also called external battery packs, external back-up battery, external battery charger or power bank charger), are a very popular and well received promotional product. It’s easy to see why.
They’re very useful and practical…that means they’ll be retained. They offer a fairly good sized imprint area, so your logo can stand out and get noticed. And, pretty much everyone can use one. This is an item that every company should have in their promo product cupboard.

Here’s what you need to know before you buy:

These are portable, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. They come in a range of capacities (with capacity being how much power they generate). The power capacity is measured in mAh, milli amps per hour.
Power banks range in capacities from around 1800 mAh on the low end up to 14000 mAh on the upper end.

Here is a 14000 mAh charger. It has 2 recharging ports and will power up pretty much any device. This one comes with multiple adapters to fit most every device. It will make your coffee in the morning. Expect to pay about $68 for a device like this.

Think of the charger as your gas tank. The higher the number the bigger your gas tank. And, like gas tanks, these batteries can be refilled, i.e. recharged. The typical power bank can be recharged about 500 times before it starts to lose its efficiency. (They come with a USB cable so you can recharge it from your computer.)

Think of your device as the gas pedal, the more you stomp on the pedal the faster your tank gets emptied. A smart phone will use less gas than a tablet.

So, how much charging will you get from a power bank? It depends upon the mAh capacity of the power bank and the size of the battery in the device. For instance, if your smart phone battery is 1500 mAh (which is pretty typical) a 2200 mAh power bank will charge it 1 time, (assuming your phone battery is at 0%). If your device has a 3000 mAh battery then the 2200 mAh charger won’t charge it completely.

Look at the output rating for the power bank you’re considering.  1A -1.5A is adequate for a smart phone while 1.5A -2A is recommended for a tablet. Although a tablet can be charged with a 1A charger, it will take longer and probably won’t charge the tablet completely.

This is a 4000 mAh dual port charger. This one offers 2 power output levels, 1A and 2A. It also features a charge indicator light.
Expect to pay about $25 for something like this.

Look for a charger with multiple ports (2 USB ports along with a micro is a nice feature.)

Look for a power bank that has fresh batteries…if the price is super cheap in comparison to other chargers of the same capacity it might mean that the battery has been used before and been refurbished.  It happens.

An indicator light is a useful feature and a “use” indicator is an even nicer feature.

After that you can add features such as an LED flashlight, probably less than useful.

And lastly, do you want a plastic housing or an aluminum case?

This is a 2200 mAh charger with a metal casing. This has a single port and an indicator light. This is about $13.

The cylinder shape is quite popular. This is also a 2200 mAh charger. This one has a plastic casing. These are about $10.

Look at the links; they have a lot of the technical stuff. But, even if you don’t, you are now a much smarter buyer of power banks.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Logo'd USB Drives - 6 Things To Know Before You Buy

USB drives, (also known as "thumb drives," "memory sticks," and "flash drives") are a staple promotional item that every company should have in the cupboard. It's easy to see why: they're useful and that means they'll be retained, they're inexpensive, and they offer multiple opportunities for branding.

You can use them to reply to RFPs, as a way to present information about an event (schedules, venues, etc.), speaker bios, insurance policy benefits, the list goes on and you get the idea.

BUT...they are not all created equal and it's easy to get taken if you just go for the lowest price.

Here's what you need to know before you buy.

The most important aspect of the drive is what is know as its memory classification (not the memory capacity, I'll get to that later).

Memory classification is designated by "Tiers" with Tier 1 Memory being the best and Tier 3 being the least reliable. The little chips at the heart of your USB drive were cut from a master silicon wafer.
Master silicon wafer
The chips cut from the middle are stronger, have the longest lifespan (about 10 years), have zero to extremely low error rates and are faster. These are Tier 1 chips. They often have a serial number or name etched on each chip.They have a lifetime warranty.They are unused and go straight to the USB drive maker. (More on that later)

Here's what the guts of your USB drive looks like.....

Tier 2 chips are cut a bit further away from the center. They are reliable, although not as reliable as Tier 1.
They will not have a manufacturer's name or a serial number. They're a bit slower and won't last quite as long. They will not have a lifetime warranty.

Tier 3 chips are cut from the edge of the master wafer. They can have failure rates up to about 40%. They do not have any warranty.

Here's a little secret about low cost USB drives; they are most likely either Tier 3 or they've been scrubbed and are being reused. It happens. That's why you're likely to see a 1GB drive from one source for $12 each and the same capacity from another source for $6 each. Rest assured, the first drive is Tier 1 and the other is probably Tier 3.  Your promo products vendor can tell you if you are getting a Tier 1 drive and you should insist on documentation that you're getting Tier 1 and a lifetime warranty.

As the old saying goes, "You get what you pay for."

Here's the next thing you need to know; chips are sold as commodities. The price will fluctuate from week to week. Most suppliers post their prices on Monday's and hold those prices throughout the week. They re post the following Monday. Right now (September 2014) chip prices are at all time lows.
When Apple was manufacturing the iPhone5 prices jumped because Apple was buying all the supply they could.

Next, memory capacity has expanded significantly over the past few years. Most suppliers offer drives with 64 GB of capacity. The most popular capacities are 1GB and 2 GB. See if you can find a 32 mg or 64 mg drive...even 128mg are getting scarce.

The most popular (and practical) style is the "Swing" (also called a swivel ) drive, so named because of the arm that swings away to give access to the drive. (It's practical because there is no cap to lose).

You see they come in a ton of colors so getting something to match your corporate colors should be pretty easy.

Here are the typical imprint areas (and imprint sizes) for a swivel drive:

Drives come in all sorts of shapes and materials so you should have no trouble finding a drive that suits your style and budget. Many of the suppliers who cater to the promotional products industry are capable of making your custom design. You'll pay a bit more for a custom design but having something that is unique to your company might be worth the expense. Here's an example

Here's the take away: all chips are not created equal. Insist on Tier 1 memeory with a lifetime warranty.

Hope this was helpful and drop me a comment if you have any questions.