Battery packs are easy to come by, but what's a bit more difficult to find is a battery pack that'll keep your gear charged, charge it completely if it's low on battery, and still be sturdy and well-built enough to go with you anywhere—and we mean anywhere. The Limefuel Rugged fits the bill perfectly. Here's why.
Make no mistake, we have some favorite battery packs, and we're fans of Limefuel's (formerly Limeade) other models too, but the Limefuel Rugged (aka the L150XR) is in a class of its own. They sent one over to us to try out, and it's one of the best battery packs I've ever used. It's one of the few I've tried that doesn't just pump out enough juice to keep your devices running, it's enough to actually charge them to full battery. Plus, it seems like it just keeps going and going—and that's a good feeling to get out of your battery pack.
The Limefuel Rugged comes in two flavors—the 15,000 mAh model that we tested, which will set you back $85 at Amazon, and a smaller, 10,400 mAh version for $65. Both versions are the same size: 5.5" long x 3.3" wide x 1" deep, making it just a bit much for most pockets, but perfect for a go bag, everyday carry, briefcase, or backpack. It weighs 13 ounces, so while it has some heft, it's not heavy or bulky. It even comes with a ripstop nylon strap and carabiner that goes into the slot at the bottom of the battery pack so you can attach it to or secure it inside of your backpack.
The Rugged features two, 5V/2.4A charging ports (total 5V/4.2A, meaning plugging in two devices doesn't halve your charge rate), so you can plug in a pair of power-hungry devices without worrying that they won't charge. It's also capable of charge passthrough, so you can charge the battery and power your devices at the same time. If the battery is charged, all the juice goes right to your device, which is really nice.
The charging cable that comes with the Rugged is also worth mentioning. It's flat and won't tangle, much like a SATA cable. It even has a rubber clasp on it, so you can coil it up and wrap the clasp around it to keep the cable neat. One end has a thin USB port that's narrow enough to slip into any spare port without competing for space with other used ones, and the microUSB side actually shares a charging adapter for Apple's Thunderbolt connector. If you need to charge a Thunderbolt device, leave the adapter on. If you're charging microUSB, just slide it out of the way of the microUSB port. You can see it in the photo above, but it's a nice touch. This way you don't need two cables to charge two different devices.
Build-wise, the Limefuel Rugged is IP66 certified (although immersion isn't recommended), so you don't need to worry about getting it wet. It's also shock and crush resistent. We kicked ours around a fair bit, and it barely picked up a scratch. The center of the chassis is a kind of translucent polycarbonate, and the power and charge indicator—which is normally dark—is touch sensitive. When you tap it, it'll light up and display how much charge is left in the battery. The edges of the case are made from solid, thick, textured rubber that's ridged on the sides for an easy grip. The charging ports are at the top, and are be protected by closing a snap-lock port cover. Suffice to say, the thing is built like a brick and will take more punishment than you'll probably put it through, but it still looks great and isn't super-heavy.
There isn't' a lot to dislike about the Rugged, actually. It can take a long time to charge (which we can't really ding it for, since the battery's capacity is large and it takes forever to discharge), but that's about it. The Thunderbolt connector on the convertible cable pops off sometimes, so you may need to keep an eye on that. It's a little on the big side—I could fit it in my pocket easily, but it's just a touch heavy enough that you probably wouldn't want to keep it in there and just run the cable out from your pocket. A jacket pocket, sure, but a pants pocket might be a bit much. It only has two output ports (unlike even other Limefuels, like the Blast, which has four high-speed ports). Still, I never found myself needing to plug in more than two devices at a time.
Over a few weeks of use, I regularly found myself packing a Rugged over other, even higher-capacity, battery packs just because my experience with the Rugged was better. Its build-quality was solid, and felt like something I could carry around safely. Since the Rugged actually charges the devices it's connected to, you can plug in a dying phone and come away with one that has way more juice than you left it with, which is a better proposition than just using your phone with the Rugged connected. If you ask us, that's a pretty big boon, and one that's definitely worth its price tag.
At the moment, most of you are probably counting down to about twelve different holidays or events. Sorting through how much time you have is math you don't need right now. Google Now is making it a bit easier by giving you countdowns to holidays it recognizes.
As Android Police points out, if you create a reminder in Google Now, you will now get a handy little red label that tells you how many days you have left until the event. It doesn't seem to be tied in to your calendar, so custom events won't have their own label (or birthdays, sadly), but hopefully Google will expand it over time. It's also worth mentioning that, since you can see your reminders in Inbox, this is particularly handy.
In our tests, this didn't work on older versions of the Google (formerly Search) app. If you're still on an older version—anything pre-4.0, really—Android Police's sister site APK Mirror has downloads and instructions here. Unrooted users on KitKat or older may have trouble, but rooted users, or those running Lollipop can fix the incompatibility issues. Or you can wait til this version rolls out to everyone. Hopefully it won't be after the holidays.
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