[review] XTAR PB2S charger/powerbank

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Lightbringer
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[review] XTAR PB2S charger/powerbank

I was recently asked if I’d like to review a new XTAR PB2S charger/powerbank, and being that I really like XTAR lights but never had any XTAR chargers before, nor powerbanks, I said “Sure!”. LOL

I got it pretty quickly from the XTAR store. It came in a retail package, cardboard box with clear window, plastic tray to hold the goodies, and the goodies nicely packed inside. Also, to get me started, I also received it “preloaded” with XTAR-branded 18650 and 21700, as well as a separate QC3-compatible wall-charger. It was everything needed to get going with it.

 

PB2S retail box

 

I don’t know if that would be available as a “kit” of sorts, or if they’d need to be add-ons. Either way, I was all set to get going.

 

contents: charger/powerbank, USB-C cable, QC3 charger, XTAR-branded 18650 and 21700

 

At first, the cells were in need of a charge out of the box, so I topped them off by simply plugging the PB2S into a computer USB port. It read out the voltage at the port, and the charging current as well. They topped off in about an hour or so (I was a bit distracted, so didn’t mark the exact time, state-of-charge, etc.).

 

PB2S charger/powerbank, display off (top) and display on (bottom)

 

Later, my phone was in serious need of a charge, so what went in, was to come out. I hadn’t heard of the “IPhone problem” before, but did note that when almost fully charged, my phone was already at 99%, then bleeped at me and finished charging to 100%, so there was no problem here.

Then I recharged the cells via the wall charger. I was surprised input voltage was 9V, then realised QC3 was kicking in, hence the higher voltage and current.

 

PB2S charger/powerbank, USB-C cable, and QC3 charger, cover on (top) and cover off (bottom)

 

After that round of typical usage, I moved on to the æsthetics and design, and was pretty impressed! Everything was rubbery soft except for the display portion. Nice and grippy, no fingerprints, great texture, great color… whatever it is. It’s sort of a cross between navy blue and charcoal gray. Whatever it’s called, it’s quite nice.

Contacts on the negative end aren’t the usual sliders found on most chargers, but rather pogo-stick type contacts. Less “sliding” along scratchy rails and more solid contact would seem to make for a more robust connection with less resistance. Travel is limited, so it won’t fit shorter cells like 18350s or even 18500s, but with higher charge/discharge currents, that’s probably a good thing.

An apparent improvement from the PB2 to the PB2S is the addition of the pull-ribbon to help dislodge cells. It certainly makes it easier to just pull on a ribbon vs trying to pry out the cells by the edges. Smile

Whereas it’s specified to hold 18650s and 21700s, it will fit, as I found out, a 26650 to “emergency charge” it, ie, with the cover off. My Cometa needed a top-off, and rather than grubbling around for a charger that’d fit it, I just popped it into the PB2S and it happily charged it full.

 

PB2S holding a 26650 cell

 

Speaking of the cover, like the PB2, it “sticks” on by magnets, making the cover easy to remove but with no seams, hinges, snaps, tabs, notches, etc., to get in the way. Nice!

Per pictures that others posted, the PB2S is a bit larger than the original PB2, but this donk holds 21700s — a pair of them — which the PB2 didn’t. Being that more and more lights are taking 21700s, I’m perfectly okay with the larger size. And capacity is that much more with 21s, vs having to choose between high-capacity/low-drain or high-drain/low-capacity 18s. This way, you get the best of both worlds.

The single multifunction button is almost hidden on the side. During operation, you can toggle between the input/output channel, and status of battery 1 and battery 2. And they’re all independent, so you can slap in a mostly-charged cell, an almost-dead cell, and start charging, and the almost-dead cell will start charging first and exclusively, until it’s at about the same state-of-charge as the mostly-charged cell, and then both will start charging. And similarly on the way down, drawing from the higher-SOC cell, and then only drawing from the lower-SOC cell when they’re about the same.

The single button lets you view the state of each.

Everything seems intuitive, and “smart”. No worrying about matching capacities or anything of the sort. I’ve got plenty of “regular” powerbanks, 1 cell, and usually just “dumb” (red/blue LEDs) or minimal %-charge display. This is quite a step up from those.

This is my first combination charger/powerbank, well, except for a Miller ML-something from way back, and I quite like it. Compact, considering it takes a pair of 21700s, informative, as well as being sleek’n‘chic. The soft-touch rubberised case won’t be getting scuffs or scratches if carried in a bag, and it seems to do its job quite well.

Official info from the XTAR store can be found at http://www.xtar.cc/product/XTAR-PB2S-Charger-122.html .

Enjoy!

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Edited by: Lightbringer on 08/25/2019 - 22:02
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The only way I would buy this “new” XTAR PB2S is iffn they would buy back their illconceived PB2 and admit they screwed the pooch with that one. The way I can get rid of that module is by including it as a giveaway inducement with more better items. Pretty sad.

Lightbringer
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Hmm, what was wrong with the original? Yeah, I heard about “the IPhone problem”, but what else was wrong with it?

This one seems pretty nice, at least I was impressed with it. Innocent

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Lightbringer
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Oh, hey, if anyone wants a direct link…

https://www.ebay.com/itm/333307299061

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fran82
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Thanks for the review.

But….. But…. But…

I noticed that this device has a big ussue (at least for me)

It has a rubber coating!!!!!

As the old phones from mid and mid-end 2000 that were coated with rubber…

It will get sticky in a few years and will desintegrate itself!!!! It will be a mess…

Why??? Why they had to rubber coat it??

Enjoy BLF

fran82
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Another thing..

I read somewhere that it has a hidden low current mode of 10mA output… It is with a long press of the button…

That function is really available?

Enjoy BLF

agent80
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Rubber coating gets sticky after a while. Happened to many devices. The rubber coating and the large size is a problem.

Grigio
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Yes, I can confirm that the rubber coating will get gooey over time. In the beginning you think ‘Oh wow, nice touch, good grip!’ Then, as time goes by, and especially in warmer climates, it becomes soft, sticky and you can draw doodles in it. It’s difficult to remove; first you have to scrape most of it off, then follow up with a cloth soaked in solvent and a brush but you always have to test first what the solvent does to the base material.

I threw away an older camping lantern that was too sticky to use, and a sunvisor on one of my motorbike helmets suffered from the same problem, but that was easier to clean so I’m still using it.

Although I really blike the new XTAR PB2S, I doubt if I will buy one.

fran82
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After reading that it is rubber coated, I finally will NOT buy it.

It is a shame.

I had to stop using many electronic devices such as phones and other items due to the stupid rubber coating.

Puaggggg..

Nice internals.. Nice working.. But they screwed it with the coating. Damn it!!!

Hope they will release a new version without rubber coating… In that case, I will buy it instantly!

Enjoy BLF

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Lightbringer wrote:
Hmm, what was wrong with the original? Yeah, I heard about “the IPhone problem”, but what else was wrong with it?

This one seems pretty nice, at least I was impressed with it. Innocent


It would not charge any of my small devices, headphones, mp3 players, my Ultratac 10440 screw on charging unit, etc due to its low end cutoff being too high.
Neither would it fit half of my 18650s due to short battery bay.
Lightbringer
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Awwww, I really hope youse are wrong about the coating.

 

Being that it fits 21700s, it should fit even stretch-18650s.

Dunno about small-device charging, but the low-low-cutoff option should work.

 

Talk about popping my balloon…

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mcfarlie6996
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Lightbringer wrote:
Oh, hey, if anyone wants a direct link…

https://www.ebay.com/itm/333307299061

Illumn does have the limited edition red one on sale shipping from the states. Mine is expecting to arrive today.

https://www.illumn.com/xtar-pb2s-qc-3-0-pd-3-0-portable-li-ion-charger-and-powerbank-red.html

nquinn
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My PB2 first edition died after using it like 4 times. It charges up, but won’t charge my iphone.

Dzeric
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I picked up two of these from Illumn which arrived today, and they seem great so far. Loaded each with a pair of unprotected 21700s.
Being able to see each battery status, charge/discharge rate and voltage is nice, I’m a sucker for stats like that. The QC works with my phone at 12V 1.5A, the Nintendo Switch on the other hand only takes 5V 1.3A but it is picky about chargers.
The ‘low current’ mode works in my testing, which prevents it from turning off even when the current is very low (press and hold from off and it starts blinking slowly, press and hold again to shut it off). I really like this feature as I mess with arduinos, and other low current USB devices occasionally and having a battery pack drop out isn’t great.
The rubberized finish is very faint (not tacky). I have had other similar devices eventually start flaking a finish like that, time will tell. I won’t be too bothered if it does, but a smooth or slightly textured raw plastic might have been better.
Correction: The Switch uses 12V when using a usb-c to usb-c cable.

TheIntruder
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I have a couple old mice with the rubberized coating. Eventually, it will get tacky, or just wear off.

Once it reaches that state, it’s not that hard to finish the job, completely remove it, and reveal the smooth plastic underneath.

By that time, the PB2S will be yesterday’s news anyway, especially with the folks here.

I wouldn’t disagree with the dislike for the durability of such coatings, but XTAR does seem to learn.

It addressed many of the shortcomings of the PB2, and even made small improvements during the development process.

When the S was first teased, the USB-C port seemed to serve only as an input, not input/output. I suspect PD is also a later addition.

The extraction ribbon and white, instead of red, display also help usability.

My only reservation with the PB2S is that I already have a month-old, little-used PB2 I reluctantly picked up for travel, knowing the S was on the way. But perhaps it’s better to let the first buyers do some further field testing, and put the S through its paces before biting again.

Lightbringer
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TheIntruder wrote:
The extraction ribbon and white, instead of red, display also help usability.

You got a red one? My blue one has a blue ribbon. Color-coordinated… LOL

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Dzeric
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Mine are both red plastic/red ribbon, with red LED display. Would’ve preferred a white LED display, but I like those in anything

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I got my today.
I would say the rubber feels comparable to the rubber Dewalt and Milwaukee use on the cordless tools maybe just a little more silicone or sticky feel, it’s definitely not soft. The quality seems very good and I personally don’t think it will be problem long term.
I loaded it with a couple new Molicel 217000 P42A batteries that were previously charged to 100% and it charged my S9 from 46% to full in approximately 1 hour and 5 minutes. When finished it had 77% left.
I don’t have much stuff that requires low current mode, so I am curious what others have to say about how well that works.

fran82
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Wait a moment…

The displays are not white in all?

Some sre white… Some are red??

Wtf??

Enjoy BLF

TheIntruder
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Lightbringer wrote:
TheIntruder wrote:
The extraction ribbon and white, instead of red, display also help usability.

You got a red one? My blue one has a blue ribbon. Color-coordinated… LOL

I haven’t got one…yet…but it will be red. But if they made a blue one with a yellow ribbon, or a black one with a red ribbon… Cash

fran82 wrote:
Wait a moment…

The displays are not white in all?

Some sre white… Some are red??

Wtf??

Before it was released, all the preview materials showed a red display (as well as input-only C port, and no ribbon).

Now that it has been released, the marketing material shows a white display, as do the review units that have made it into people’s hands.

But, Illumn is selling a red version, with a red display, billed as a “LIMITED Red LED Edition.”

So, changes were made to the original design, and perhaps XTAR just needed a way to get rid of the red displays it already had on hand but didn’t make it into the final product.

If you want the red display, that’s the source for it, and in a reversal, it’s cheaper than the other options so far.

Grigio
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Displays in red are the “special/limited” edition.

fran82
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Thanks for the info.

I prefer white led.

But…. Two things stop me from buying: the price and the rubber coating….

Enjoy BLF

Phlogiston
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Thanks for the review, Lightbringer – I’m definitely interested, now that it takes protected 18650s.

Found more images and specs on the AliExpress listing:

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/4000107760986.html

Only 2A at 5V (10W)? That’s odd, given that it can do 2A at 9V (18W) and 1.5A at 12V (also 18W).

I really want the USB-C specified 3A at 5V… I think I’ll hold off on buying one until I see some HKJ-style measurements.

dekozn
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Can it be used as an ups?

Idiot proofing something only creates improved idiots.

light-wolff
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Regarding rubber coating: it depends.
My smartphone has a rubber coated back, 3 years old, still fine.
The previous mobile also had a rubber coated back, carried it in my pocket from 2006 to 2016, now retired, the coating is still fine, just a bit worn off on the edges, but not gooey.

mattlward
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I have the PBS2 and really love it! I run with a set of NCR lower discharge high capacity cells and find the unit to be super handy and it provides a spare flashlight battery if need be. The low charge current thing does drive me nuts, may be enough to make me get the new one. Just not crazy about the unit getting bigger.

EDC rotation:
KR4, SST-20 FA3 4000k (favorite!)
FW3A, Nichia 4000k sw40 r9080 (second favorite)
FW1A, LH351D 3500k (third favorite)
FW1A, XP-L Hi 3A
FW3A, LH351D 3500k
FW3A, SST20 FD2 4000k
FW3A, Cree XP-L Hi 5A3
Emisar D4V2, SST20 4000k
Emisar D4V2, brass E21A 3500k (night light of choice)

Lightbringer
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Unno, got mine right here and it doesn’t bug me. Maybe ‘cause I don’t have an original PB2? Still, the ‘S doesn’t seem all that big to me. Not like I keep it in my pocket or anything…

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Dzeric
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I just tested using it as a UPS, and its not something I’d suggest as when input power is cut or resumed it cuts the output for a fraction of a second. This would make it useless as a UPS for something that needs to stay up (Raspberry pi or similar such devices). It does seem to provide output while being charged though after that brief outage.

dekozn
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Thanks for testing the ups function.

 

Idiot proofing something only creates improved idiots.

Lightbringer
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Nice techie review of detailed charging/discharging performance at http://budgetlightforum.com/node/68969 !

Seems the PB2S is nicely designed both inside and out! LOL

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