E-Cigarette Reviews and Rankings

4stars

XTAR PB2 Charger/Power Bank Review

What if I told you that you could use your trusty 18650 battery charger as a portable power bank to charge your smartphone, tablet or other gadgets on the go? Well, that’s the main selling point of the new XTAR PB2, a new generation, ultra-lightweight battery charger that doubles as a power bank.

The XTAR PB2 charger comes in the usual type of packaging for electronic devices – a plastic holder in a white cardboard box with a list of features and specifications on the side and back. The kit contains one PB2 charger, a micro-USB cable and a user manual.

Design-wise, the new PB2 looks a lot slicker than the battery chargers I’ve used in the past. The first thing that came into my mind the first time I saw it was the portable charger of the IQOS heat-not-burn tobacco products, although that’s where the similarities stop. At 110mm x 51mm x 25mm, it’s small enough to fit in a normal jeans pocket or a small purse, but what really impressed me the first time I held in my hand was how incredibly light it was. Without batteries, it only weighs 55 grams, and even with two 18650 batteries inserted, it’s still as light as a feather.

Another thing that caught my eye was the silky rubberized finish, which, in my opinion is both a pro and a con. On the one hand, this texture improves your grip on the device quite a bit, but it also makes it prone to fingerprint stains. It’s not a deal breaker, but you will have to wipe it clean at some point.

The compact charger is made of  plastic-like material, but you will be glad to know that it is actually a fire-resistant material, which is really important for this kind of device.

The XTAR PB2 is very easy to use. All you have to do is pop open the magnetic battery door on the back, and insert one or two 18650 batteries. The two bays have clear polarity indicators, but just in case you still manage to insert the batteries the wrong way, the PB2 features reverse polarity protection. The battery door is held in place by two pairs of very strong magnets and pops into place when you attach it to the charger. The magnets are so strong that the only way to access the battery compartment is to use your fingernail to yank the door out, so there’s no risk of it coming off accidentally.

The XTAR PB2 features keystone contacts on the negative end, instead of those mobile, spring-loaded contacts on my other battery charger, which means that you will only fit 18650 batteries. That’s probably my biggest gripe with this device. As 20700 and 21700 batteries become increasingly popular choices for mod manufacturers, being restricted to 18650 batteries is definitely a con. That said, 18650s are still the most popular batteries in the vaping industry today, so the PB2 charger is still a great option.

Near the top of the PB2 battery charger, you’ll see a small LED display which comes on whenever you hook the device up to a power source while there is at least one 18650 battery inside, or when you are using the PB2 as a power bank to charge another device. You’ll also notice a small button on the side of the charger, which you can use to have the charge level of the batteries stored inside on the LED display. Finally, at the top end of the charger, you have a regular USB and a micro USB port, one for output and one for input.

Now for the real important part, how the XTAR PB2 performs. I can only compare it to the chargers I’ve personally used to charge my batteries – a Nitecore D4 Digicharger and a Nitecore I2 Intellicharger. They’re both considered outdated at this point, but they’re both still working, so I never even considered getting a newer one.

To charge your 18650 batteries with the PB2, just insert one or two in the battery compartment, put the battery door back on and insert the charging cable into the input slot, while connecting the other end to a power source. You will see the LED display come on and display the current power level (0 – 100) of the batteries. Then one of the digits will start to flash, which means that the batteries are charging. The display will stay on and the number showed will increase all the way to 100, which signals that the batteries are fully charged.

It’s important to note that if you have a single 18650 battery inserted, the XTAR PB2 will charge it at a rate of 2A, whereas with two 18650 batteries, the charger operates at 1A. According to the XTAR official website, a single 2500 mAh battery will charge to full in an hour and a half, which I can confirm is pretty accurate. My Sony VTC5A actually took just over an hour to charge, but it wasn’t completely depleted when I put it in. So two 2500 mAh batteries will take around 3 hours to charge, at a rate of 1 amp.

Now, if you are using the XTAR PB2 as a power bank, to charge another gadget, like your smartphone, all you have to do is use the same USB cable included in the kit, only this time you plug it into the output port. With two 18650 batteries inserted, it will charge your gadgets at 2A, whereas with just one battery, the rate is just 1A. XTAR claims that with a 2A output, the PB2 can fully charge a depleted iPhone 7 Plus in 2 hours.

The cool thing about the XTAR PB2 is that you can use it to charge 18650 batteries inside it, as well as hook up an external device via the output port. According to the manual, the charger will first charge the external gadget directly from the power source, before charging the batteries, to reduce battery cycles and increase their lifespan.

The XTAR PB2 features balanced charging and discharging, so if a battery has a lower voltage than the other, it will charge it first to where both batteries have the same voltage, and only then charge them simultaneously. Likewise, when charging an external device on the go, if one of the batteries has a higher voltage than the other, it will first bring it down to the voltage of the other battery and then discharge them simultaneously, at the same rate.

Another cool feature, which XTAR claims to have invented, is the 0V charging. If you’ve somehow managed to deplete a battery completely, to the point where normal chargers won’t bring it back to life, you can use the PB2 to do just that.

That’s about all there is to this charger. It’s jut a simple-to use, portable battery charger with built-in power bank functionality. I love the slick design and lightweight materials, and the fact that I can use it to recharge my phone on the go and keep a couple of 18650 batteries on me at all times, just in case my vape mod needs a fresh pair. I do wish it worked with different-size batteries, though, and I hope XTAR comes up with a 2.0 version in the near future.

It may not be perfect , but at an average price of $20 (I’ve seen it cheaper and more expensive than that), you can’t go wrong with the XTAR PB2.

The XTAR PB2 battery charger/power bank was sent to me by XTAR for the purpose of this review. You can buy it on Amazon.

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