We get the opportunity at The Planet to try some really cool stuff. We generally test these things in the heat of combat, rather than just dry runs because we feel that you can’t stamp your name on anything until it’s truly battle tested. So when Third Rail sent us the slim case for the iPhone 4 with the slide on smart battery, we knew we needed to see if it could stand up to that summer concert heat.
I’ve been to many shows and the toughest ones to cover are the summer fests because they are outdoors and they are long as hell. You have to be selective with what you capture because either you don’t have the capacity for 12 hours of footage or you don’t have the time to go through 12 hours retroactively to edit out. You just develop that “spider sense.” You also have to watch your battery power. Over 12 hours, even your spare battery can get run through and if you are using your phone to text because you can’t hear a damned thing or you are coordinating interviews or access to artists, it’s a sure bet that you can run out of juice.
For the Third Rail, we tested it recently at the BK Hip-Hop festival in warm and sunny (read Hot-assed) Brooklyn. My man Reverend Ox was in the field playing Jimmy Olsen and we sent him to see if the case was the goods. Like most of these cell phone peripherals they are created to take advantage of iPhone hype and it’s already immense momentum but you can find a way to make them work no matter what phone you have, as long at the plug matches.
The case fit that iPhone 4 like a glove and the trial package they sent contained the slim case, 1 smart battery, 1 micro USB cable, and 1 adapter plus the manual. If you are used to these things or event if you are a novice you don’t really need the manual to operate. You look at the holes and you make it happen. Here are the genius parts to the design.
First off you can charge with your laptop. So even if you charge beforehand and go through your battery and the charge in the smart battery, you can attach via USB to your laptop and get more power. If you conserve your laptop, then you have the ability to essentially rock three battery lives like Super Mario or Ms. Pacman. The smart battery is actually two way. If you rock a non-iPhone, you can simply detach from the case and get to work plugging the battery itself directly into your computer.
On the flipside you attached the adaptor to the out plus on the battery and you can flip the micro USB to plug into your phone. In a word: BOSS. The most interesting and useful thing, although we weren’t able to truly test, is that the smart batteries are scalable. You can hook multiple batteries atop each other for your own mini power station.
You don’t have to plug the battery in unless you need it, so there is no drain. If you have the iPhone 4 or the 4S, the case is not bulky. We ain’t dropping any phones so whatever protection capacity it has you’ll have to find out when you drop your $700 phone. We’ll take their word for all of that.
We texted Ox for the bulk of those hours and called him as well to really put pressure on that battery. I’m sure he was sick of us and trying to enjoy the show (or God Forbid get credible pics) but he was good power wise from the inception to the close, Which featured the first time classic “What’s the Scenario” was performed on stage by all its principals in 20 years. That effing rules by itself. There were times the battery got hot during prolonged talk times but I’m willing to chalk that up to the 95 degree heat. We never lost contact and Ox never had to reload so there was no loss on that end.
Third Rail has a very useful monster on their hands. We cover a bunch of peripherals that are more novel than useful. This wasn’t one of them. You can get the entire Third Rail system HERE for around 90 bucks. If you don’t have an iPhone you can just buy the battery HERE for $60. You can sit back and relax and click on the pics below for the BK Hip-Hop festival.
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