Emergencies aren't predictable but that doesn't mean they can't be planned for. And one of the most important things during an emergency is having ready access to power. iForway PS500N 500W Portable Power Station, recently sent to Android Headlines for review, does just that. In fact, it provides as much as 462 watt-hours of power.
That makes it, at least on paper, an ideal choice for those who might need electricity in an emergency. As do its multiple USB and AC ports, with some added secondary functions thrown in for good measure. Such as a speaker. But how does that translate to real-world use and does the company live up to its claims on battery life and charging? That's what we're here to discuss.
The hardware here is straightforward but hardly minimal
Despite its small stature, weight is the first thing I noticed about my iForway PS500N Portable Power Station review unit. Or rather, just how heavy it is. It weighs 13.13lbs and measuring just over 11-inches by six-inches by seven-inches. That might not seem like much at first glance but this device is mostly comprised of battery cells. This isn't your average power bank. For its size, it's relatively hefty but you'll get much more out of this than even the best of those devices.
But along with that weight also comes a design that positively screams about how well-built this power station is. The matte-feel plastics, metal fasteners, and metal handle mechanism are all rock solid. The covering on the LED light chips and speaker at the front, as well as the plug-style cover for the 12V port at the back, are similarly sturdy.
There's no jostle in the frame at all, which wouldn't necessarily be a huge problem anyway. Especially since the frame is held together by easy-access fasteners.
As for the ports, each of those is well-fitted and clicky. So the only real problem I can see in the build of this device is that the power and light buttons are slightly too squishy for my liking. They won't likely wear out too quickly over time but the soft nature of this design doesn't necessarily exude durability like the rest of the build does.
With that said, I'm happy to report that the feet rest firmly and evenly on the ground. And they provide plenty of clearance so that the main unit isn't resting less than an inch or so from the floor. That means there won't likely be many issues if the floor around the unit gets wet and that it isn't resting in dust all the time. The feet provide quite a bit of grip for stability too.
iForway PS500N can power or charge almost anything but that's not all
iForway PS500N Portable Power Station is, above all else, a power supply unit. And, since it's electric and well-optimized, it runs nearly silently. Or at least when you want it to since it also has a 10W speaker arrangement inside. But that's not its primary function at all. What it does best is to provide power to any gadget under 300W.
Once over that watt requirement, this device trips a safety switch at the back. So, medium and large-sized space heaters aren't going to be the best choice to tie into this power station for emergencies. A larger generator — which this company also sells — will be required there. For any other gadget, small space heater, or household appliance, PS500N works marvelously.
That all starts with its 462 watt-hours lithium-ion battery pack and 500W pure sine wave inverter, with a peak of 800W. In laymen's terms, that's just a lot of power. And we'll cover that momentarily. But in terms of overall usability, this device can power just about anything.
For instance, during my review, I utilized this power station to drive a 55-inch 4K television for an hour and 13 minutes. I charged my 4,780mAh phone battery at near its maximum 65W rate once, while also running the light and speaker at 75-percent volume for an hour and 12 minutes. And I powered my laptop from almost drained to full while using it for an hour and 20 minutes. That's a Samsung Galaxy Chromebook, for reference, and one of the most battery-intensive devices in its class by a large margin.
An additional half-hour with just the light turned on didn't drain the power station below the 75-percent mark — metered out via four LED lights on the front. In fact, I was able to run the above-mentioned television for an additional two-hours and 20-minutes, charge up said phone twice, and play guitar for around 20-minutes through a 40W amplifier before I dropped down to just one light-bar remaining.
In terms of charging and power-delivery ports, iForway provides one USB Type-C PD port, one USB-A Quick Charge 3.0 port, and two 5V/2.4A — just over 10W — ports. On the back, there is a 12V car charger port, two AC wall plugs with a safety switch, and three DC ports.
This is a power station so iForway PS500N is all about battery life
In terms of how long the battery in the iForway PS500N Portable Power Station will last, that's going to vary quite a lot so this review shouldn't be taken as any kind of guarantee. Bearing that in mind, the company claims that this battery can last a very long time.
Specifically, it can power the array of LED chips for as long as 85-hours. Or it can power the average camera, phone, tablet, or laptop as many as 75, 45, 12, or 8 times, respectively. A 60-inch television — the company doesn't provide many details regarding specs or power usage — can be powered for as long as 3-hours. And medical devices such as a CPAP with all functions turned on, can last as long as 12-hours on a single charge.
And those figures, based on my review and test of the iForway PS500N Portable Power Station, appear to be just about spot-on accurate. At least based on my usage above and other uses during this test. This generator is going to be perfect for just about any small generator purposes. Especially in an emergency or anywhere power isn't available from a wall outlet. Such as camping.
Charging isn't too bad either. At least not with consideration for how long this lasts. The company claims six to seven hours for a full charge and that average seems to be fairly precise too. It took just over six-and-a-half hours to charge the iForway PS500N from completely drained during my test. Of course, that's going to need to be done using the included cable for safety reasons. Which is the only real drawback to this gadget.
For longer emergencies, the company's solar panels will be the best solution for charging up, depending on available sunlight. It's smaller ColSun 60 will charge this up in between 12 to 24-hours. The larger ColSun 100 takes just 6 to 12-hours and is the better option. 12V charging from a car is also possible but the company didn't include that cable and that will take considerably longer to accomplish.
How does this work for lighting up space or for audio?
As noted earlier, this power station is more than just a power station. It's also an emergency light and a 10W Bluetooth or aux-in speaker.
Now, my initial expectation from this device was that those aspects would be mediocre at best. This is, after all, a relatively inexpensive piece of technology, at least for a generator, first and foremost. I was pleasantly surprised to find that presumption was mostly incorrect.
Starting with audio, the 10W speaker array in the iForway PS500N Portable Power Station only disappointed in one regard under review. Namely, Bluetooth. The connection was summarily incredibly finicky, disconnecting and cutting even at a relatively short range of around 15-feet. Objects or walls placed between the speaker and the source device made that worse. You probably don't want this speaker to be used with Bluetooth. At least not as a primary source.
But the audio itself, especially wired up via aux input, was great given the watt-rating. The speakers were almost as clear and precise as any other sub-$100 Bluetooth speaker I've tested. Bass could have been more powerful, while mids and highs were murkier than top-dollar devices. I didn't set my expectations for this 10W speaker too high. But the balance felt on-point as a secondary function.
Better still, on-speaker controls mean that you don't have to pick up the source device once a playlist is started.
The 36 high quality LED chips comprising the flashlight aspect of this device are powerful enough to grow fish tank plants, according to the company. I am inclined to believe that. The lights are near-blinding, looked at directly, but can easily fill a space of several hundred square feet.
Here's why you should buy iForway PS500N Portable Power Station
Now, there are several reasons that buying the iForway PS500N Portable Power Station might be appealing. And not many reasons why it wouldn't. For starters, this generator is exactly what its branding says. It's portable and offers nearly 500 watt-hours of power that's capable of charging or powering almost any appliance or device. That's helped along by its massive array of ports and plugs.
It's also meant to be paired for the most efficient use, in terms of charging, via a solar panel. So this isn't a power supply that requires an outlet once the juice does finally run out. And, at as little as 6-hours of sunlight to charge, it's going to be brilliant for those emergency situations where power is scarce but communication is still needed. It doesn't take too long to charge up either way.
Or it might be just the thing for camping, so long as it's kept out of the weather. Especially since it's so quiet and compact.
The build-quality, ease-of-use, and safety features, conversely, stack on top of all of that. If you're in the market for a portable power generator in the $550 range, iForway PS500N Portable Power Station sits firmly as a top option. At its current sale price of $489.99, as of this writing, this is one generator that should be on everybody's shortlists.