At a Glance
The Energi+ is very well designed for carrying a laptop, smartphone and tablet and the battery can charge three USB devices at the same time. The problem is value: at £160, this gadget back is simply too expensive.
You may balk at the price, but the Tylt Energi+ backpack is more convenient than simply sticking a USB battery in any old rucksack.
If you’re a commuter like me, you probably carry your
tablet around in a backpack. There are some modern designs which have dedicated pockets for these devices, but the Tylt Energi+ is the first I’ve seen to incorporate on-the-move charging.
The price includes a 4.1A battery which can charge three devices at the same time – two smartphones and a tablet, for example. Two of the USB ports can supply 5V at 1A, while the third outputs the same voltage at 2.1A.
There’s a clever cable-routing system, which is accessible when you fully unzip the rear compartment and fold open the backpack. The big battery slides into a pouch and USB cables can be threaded into a choice of seven different pockets.
One is the dedicated tablet pocket, which is lined with a soft material to protect your iPad. There’s plenty of room to spare for a 9.7in iPad, but you might struggle to fit in a 12-13in tablet.
Another handy pocket with access to power is the top one. This has a removable hard shell which has two compartments: one for smartphones with up to around 5.5in screens, and one for your sunglasses.
Other ‘power’ pockets include two of the side compartments, and three of the front compartments. At the back is a padded
laptop pocket which will accept notebooks up to 393 x 267 x 38mm – that roughly translates to a 15-16in screen.
A largish front compartment unzips to reveal yet more pockets (there are 13 in total), including some smaller ones. There’s enough room here for your laptop power supply and a small umbrella. One of the side pockets has a fold-out mesh pocket for a water bottle – a thoughtful touch – and there’s a tiny pocket on the left-hand strap which is ideal for a pair of in-ear headphones.
Another bonus is the removable, zip-up accessory bag which could be handy for spare USB cables and other adaptors. There’s a chance a laptop PSU would fit if it’s small. The Energi+ has a capacity of almost 24 litres, which is fairly small. Whether or not that’s a good thing depends on how much you want to carry.
For commuters, it’s just about right. It’s also small enough to fit under an aeroplane seat, but probably isn’t big enough to be an overnight bag unless you’re the lightest of travellers.
Bear in mind that it weighs quite a lot even when empty. With the battery, it registered just over 2kg on our scales.
There’s no chest or waist strap, which few will miss, but with the Energi+ fully loaded I could have done with some extra stability. Plus, despite the generous padding, it wasn’t the most comfortable of backpacks.
Build quality is pretty good, but it’s not top notch. The zips, for example, don’t run as smoothly as we’d expect from a backpack at this price.
Tylt Energi+ backpack review: Battery
Tylt claims the battery will recharge a smartphone up to six times. I had no problems charging an iPad and smartphone at the same time, but the battery does get quite hot after an hour or so, and heats up everything in the rucksask. There’s no need to press the button on the side of the battery to begin charging – it detects when you’ve attached a USB cable to a device and delivers power automatically. It also powers down after 10 minutes if nothing is being charged.
To properly test the battery, I fully charged it and then connected an iPad Air which had 2 percent of remaining power. Within about an hour, the Tylt battery was exhausted and had charged the iPad to 78 percent. Not bad going.
A series of five LEDs shows how much power is left – and you can also use them to track recharging progress. Charging the huge cell takes a long time: around 8 hours, so it’s something to do overnight and certainly well before you need to use it.
Tylt Energi+ backpack review: Conclusion
The Energi+ is very well designed for carrying a laptop, smartphone and tablet. The cable routing system is clever, and you can remove the battery for recharging devices on your desk – or anywhere. The quick access to the tablet and smartphone pockets is handy, too.
There are a couple of downsides, one being the lack of a chest strap which would help when carrying a lot of weight. The second is that the hard shell case for a smartphone and sunglasses doesn’t allow any space for the charging cable to plug in, so I ended up slotting my phone behind it when it needed charging.
Some may find the sewn-in NFC tag useful (there’s a free launcher app on Google Play) but it won’t add any value for most people.
And value is the biggest problem. Even at the street price of £135, the Energi+ is simply too expensive. A decent rucksack can cost only £45 while an equivalent battery can be found for under £30. You’ll have to make some holes if you want to charge devices in different pockets without running cables through zips, but unless you can justify the steep price, that’s the best option for most people.
Group test: what’s the best laptop bag?
Tylt Energi+: Specs
- 15.4in laptop bag
- made from water resistant 1680D polyester
- laptop space: 393x267x38mm
- weighs 2.1kg