We are doing things a little differently from our usual review format today, looking at two devices that serve multiple purposes – combination Jump Starters/Power Banks.
These kind of devices have become increasingly popular over the past 18 months, where we have been presented several challenges when it comes to power, whether that be the continued threat of loadshedding while working form home or simply not starting your car as often as possible as lockdown has made travel a little more difficult.
So what will be looking at? The two combination Jump Starter/Power Banks we received for review are from local technology distributor Syntech are the Romoss Primus (JS12-102-05) and the RavPower Element (RP-PB007).
Having put them both to use for the past few weeks, here’s how they perform and whether they are worth their respective asking prices.
Tale of the tape
Before we touch on features and performance, let’s run through the specifications of each Jump Starter/Power Bank, because they might be similar in terms of design and functionality, but do have some key differences.
The first is capacity, with the Romoss Primus being a 12 000mAh unit and the RavPower Element being an 8 000mAh option. As such, the latter is the less powerful of the two, but crucially both are capable of jump starting a 12V battery (which runs a fairly wide gamut of vehicles here in SA), with the manufacturers claiming up to 20 jump starts from a fully charged device for each.
Both models have a very similar form factor – namely a device that looks similar to most power banks you find on the market, but the key difference is an attachment that can be plugged into the unit and connected to a car battery via two short leads.
There are also built-in LED flashlights with SOS flashing functionality, as well as the ability to charge phones, tablets, cameras and handheld gaming consoles via USB ports, on both of these devices.
If you’re wanting a power bank only to charge something like a notebook, you’re going to want to opt for a larger capacity option, such as the Romoss Pulse 30, which we recently reviewed and highly recommend.
Back to the devices we’re reviewing here and on the charging fronts, they both perform as expected.
The Romoss option managed to charge my daily driver, a Huawei P30 Pro three times from full capacity while the RavPower managed to do it twice. This again, is expected given they are 12 000mAh and 8 000mAh respectively, but a key difference to make note of is that the former has two USB slots available to charge devices, whereas the latter only has one.
Sure, you could opt for USB multi-cable to charge more than one device at a time, but when you’re with third-party options, we always feel like the quality of charge is not up to snuff.
Number of slots aside, both of these devices serve their purpose well when it comes to the power bank side of their designs.
What is of greater interest to us, however, is the jump starter aspect.
Fit for purpose
For the purposes of this review, we used Romoss and RavPower units on our own vehicle – a 1978 Leyland Mini.
The Mini has been refurbished to a roadworthy standard, but is not the kind of vehicle you can use every day, which is why it can sit for long periods of time without being used. As a trickle charger is not an option, we often have to jump start, so putting these two devices to use is nothing new for us.
The actual detachable jump starting unit with the leads and clamps for each of these models is near identical. They also both have indicator lights to display whether you have the clamps attached to the battery correctly, which comes in handy for those who are less familiar with motor vehicles.
As for how well they performed, the Romoss option fared better.
The methodology for testing was the same. Each Jump Starter/Power Bank was used on a Sunday one week apart from one another while the Mini stood cold for seven days. We tried to turn the Mini on, on the Sunday morning with no luck and returned at midday with a fully charged unit. On the first attempt, the Romoss was able to jump start the Mini, while the RavPower one was able to do so on the fourth or fifth swing, waiting 30 seconds between attempts as instructed.
It should be noted, however, that our testing is not done in a laboratory setup and the RavPower testing took place during a noticeably colder morning than the Romoss one.
As such, this is based on personal experience rather than scientific testing.
That said, as with the power bank aspect, both of these devices performed as advertised, with one simply taking a few more attempts than the other, as any number of factors could have influenced this.
The most important aspect though, is that they worked, which if you’re stuck with a run down car battery, is the most important thing.
Now for whether each Jump Starter/Power Bank is worth the price and here there is a distinct difference in cost. The larger capacity Romoss Primus retails for R1 389 (RRP) while the smaller RavPower Element costs R589 (RRP). That difference in price is mainly down the size of the batteries as aforementioned, with the Romoss featuring 33 percent more than the RavPower.
It should also be noted that the Romoss model comes in a very handsome carrying case, as well as looking a lot better in general in the Black colour option of the review unit. These are not deal breaking elements, or reasons why you should go for one over the other, but it is pleasing to see that the additional outlay on the Romoss option isn’t only about the size of the battery and number of USB slots.
Either of these devices will serve you well and while the price of the RavPower Element is very tempting indeed, if we were spending our on money, the ability to charge more than one device, larger capacity and handy carrying case make the Romoss Primus the one we’d opt for.
AS THESE DEVICES ARE NOT DIRECTLY COMPARABLE GIVEN THEIR DIFFERENT MAH, WE HAVE CHOSEN NOT TO ASSIGN A REVIEW SCORE.