Everyone could do with a little more power, whether it’s staying off the grid for a bit or trying to survive an unexpected power outage. Power banks for smartphones and even for laptops have become commonplace these days but those can’t really handle large and essential appliances, not to mention charge phones, tablets, and laptops repeatedly. That’s where this new breed of portable power stations come in, pretty much gigantic, multi-functional power banks, and WattFun’s latest 298Wh package promises to be the only power source you’ll need for trips and emergencies.
As with power banks, portable power stations also have to make a decision between portability and power. If you opt for a larger battery capacity, you will have to be prepared for a larger and heavier package. Go light too much and you will be skimping on the needed capacity to power devices multiple times over.
Among the power stations that we’ve reviewed so far, the WattFun definitely strikes a nice balance between those two opposites. On the one hand, it’s almost half the weight of the Jackery Explorer 1000 at 12.12 lbs (5.5 kg) but also has less than its power output. On the other hand, the 298Wh WattFun Portable Power Station is also larger and heavier than, say, the 6-lb Anker Powerhouse 200 but has nearly double the capacity, not to mention the ports.
Although it focuses on portability, WattFun’s design also puts an emphasis on compactness. Unlike other portable power stations, the box’s hand neatly folds down when not in use, allowing it to be stashed in tight spaces or even have items places on top of it. That said, since the handle does rely on a hinge, there is always a chance that the moving part will someday break due to wear and tear, unlike the unibody design of rival products.
The WattFun 298Wh Portable Power Station, model number WA-PS201, boasts of a large 96,000 mAh 298Wh battery. The company boasts it can power almost any that needs under 320W, including mini-refrigerators that sip 60W at most. Of course, that still depends on what you’re plugging in and what you’re plugging it into and, to its credit, WattFun definitely has almost everything covered when it comes to the variety of ports.
You have your usual culprits, like two USB-A ports with support for Qualcomm QuickCharge 3.0 and one USB-C port capable of 60W Power Delivery. That might be enough for most devices but more power-hungry laptops like the 16-inch MacBook Pro will charge slowly. More disappointing, however, is that you can’t charge the Power Station itself via USB-C. Ironically, you can charge it via the car charger if you need to.
Power Stations like these always offer AC outlets and the WattFun 29Wh actually has two of them, each putting out 110W of power. There are also two 12V DC outputs for good measure. All of these ports are on the front for easy and convenient reach and, as mentioned earlier, compactness.
Performance and Features
As far as actual performance goes, the WattFun doesn’t oversell its capabilities. Of course, that all depends on varying conditions, especially on what you’re charging. Fortunately, you don’t have to do the guesswork because of the built-in display that shows not only how much wattage you’re consuming but also how long before the battery itself goes out.
One problem we did encounter with this particular feature was it was prone to going haywire when the WattFun portable battery got overloaded with connections. It would suddenly display the wrong data, though you could poke the reset button with a sharp object like a toothpick or pin to make it behave properly again.
Portable Stations like these are often used outdoors, like camping, or during power outages. In those cases, you’d want to have a handy light source nearby. WattFun, fortunately, includes an LED light that has two levels of brightness and an SOS mode. And, before you get worried, the torch only used 4 watts of power even at its brightest, which was already extremely bright.
One other special feature that WattFun loves to point out is its use of Lithium Iron Phosphate. Without getting to the chemical nitty-gritty, it just means that you don’t have to worry about using the power station in higher temperatures as it is the same type of battery used in electric cars.
There is a growing number of portable power stations in the market to the point that it is becoming more saturated and more difficult to choose between similar-looking options. Under these circumstances, consumers tend to gravitate towards more familiar brands at the expense of taking for granted potentially better products.
Balancing portability and flexibility, the compact WattFun 298Wh Portable Power Station definitely has the makings of such a product, though some rough edges may cause some to think twice about it. That said, it will also boil down to the price, and at $259 ($199 with discount on Amazon) it definitely undercuts the competition.
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