Some gadgets just seem destined to be boring. It's not really possible to have a "cool dongle" or a USB hub that you're simply thrilled to use every day. And I'd thought power banks — heavy black bricks (or sometime cylinders!) with an LED light or two — were among the ranks of ungussyuppable utility devices. But now that I've had my hands on the Shargeek Storm2 ($229), I can see how wrong I was.
Honestly, it might be enough if the Storm2 were just transparent. The clear-plastic case that gives visibility to both the battery's control board, complete with diodes, capacitors, and microcontrollers, takes me back to my smoky-grey see-through Game Boy. But the real star is the 1.14-inch IPS display which is bright and crisp but, crucially, colorful. It's really just a delight to look at, whether you're actually looking for details on the speed and power of charging or just gazing at it because it's fun to ogle.
In the weeks I've had the Storm2 in my bag, it's served me admirably as a standard power bank (aka a portable battery). It can recharge my iPhone about a half-dozen times from nearly zero, and can also bring my MacBook Air back from the brink. But what's really been fun is how the realtime input/output wattage on the display has allowed me to finally confirm my suspicions about which of my various Lightning cables charge the fastest and slowest.
There are, as far as I can tell, only two real downsides to this badass battery. And the first, of course, is price. The Storm2 will run you a frankly insane $229. Though while Amazon has it at list price, you can get a 10% discount for ordering it directly from Shargeek. Its little brother, the Storm2 Slim, which lacks certain features like customizable DC output for charging older laptops, isn't that much cheaper at a sky high $200 (at both Amazon and Shargeek). It's a lot! If you're only charging mobile devices, a less tricked out battery with more overall storage but a lower top-wattage will treat you just about as well for, oh, about a 10th of the price. And even powerbanks that can charge a laptop can come in at a more modest sub-$100 price point. But the Storm2 is, quite clearly, not for people interested in modesty.
The Shargeek Storm2 looks unique, and that's its appeal. It also, uh, kind of looks like a bomb. Not a real bomb, of course, but more of a cartoon of a bomb, which might be plenty to spook bystanders. I haven't tried to fly with the Storm2, but I'd be a little nervous about it. Though TSA X-Ray operators should be well-accustomed to seeing power banks without their clothes on, and it does helpfully declare itself "Airline Safe" right on the side.
At the end of the day, the Storm2 is overkill sure, but that's precisely what makes it so god damn cool.