The Goal Zero Switch 8 is a simple backup battery for your i-devices or smart phones. At it's heart is a 3.6volt 2.2aH Lithium Ion battery (3.6 x 2.2 = 7.92 watt hours, round up to 8 to get the Switch 8), which is enough power to fully charge most phones out on the market, plus potentially some extra.
Powering your devices is done through a standard USB outlet, so you don't have to carry an extra cable to do that. To charge the Switch 8, a male USB plug flips out of the end--hence the Switch. The Switch comes with a short USB extension cable to aid with charging.
Operation is simple - plug in your device and it starts to charge. No need to switch it on or off - it once it's plugged into the device, the charging begins automatically. There's a small charge indicator light that shows up with a push of a button to check the charge status on the battery. I've found it to be acceptably accurate.
The design is pretty cool for a backup battery--a bit eco/industrial/futuristic. The aluminum body looks and feels good and solid in hand. I wouldn't chuck it against a brick wall and next expect damage, but it should hold up to regular use. Mine has been riding in my EDC bag for the past two months and looks about like new
The relatively compact size is quite handy - it's on-par with a small 2-cell flash light, so it's slim enough to slide into even the tightest packed bag or even in a pocket. Weight wise, it comes in under 4 ounces--lots of pocket knives are heavier.
If you're looking to charge a tablet, you are going to get a boost of power from the Switch 8, but not a full recharge. Goal Zero says a 25% power boost on a tablet; I've tested the Switch on an iPad 2 and got a little bit less than that--around 20% extra battery life. They've just got a much bigger battery, so the power provided by the Switch 8 isn't going to make as much of an impact as with a smaller device.
In my use, the Switch 8 has held its charge for as long as 2 weeks between uses. I've been using it more than I probably normally would for testing purposes, I don't expect it to drain itself of power within a month or two of storage.
Goal Zero sells the Switch 8 as a standalone for $40, or as a
package deal with a 3.5 watt solar panel for around $99. I purchased
only the battery, and got it on sale at REI for closer to the $30 mark.
The 3.5 watt panel is advertised to charge the Switch 8 in 5-6 hours.
I've been told that the Switch 8 can be charged by the next size up Goal
Zero panel, which should be much faster, but don't have a panel on hand to test or confirm.
Overall, I'm pretty happy with the Switch 8. It's sleek, works and gives valuable backup power for my phone--honestly my most used piece of every day carry gear. Thumbs up from me.
Buy the Switch 8 on Amazon >