Charge on the Go: Exploring Rental Power Bank Options at CES 2024 and the US
Like many tech media outlets, ChargerLAB also participated in the CES2024 in Las Vegas, USA, showcasing the latest global electronic technology products and advancements in fast charging. During our visit, it was hard to ignore the prevalence of rental power banks from various manufacturers within the exhibition, mirroring the trend observed on the streets.
Recognizing this as an excellent opportunity, we decided to provide a brief overview of common rental power banks in the United States, including their prices, usage methods, and more. So, let's take a closer look.
The Charge FUZE rental power bank cabinet has a total of 45 compartments for users to borrow and return, arranged in a 5x9 grid. When we saw them, all the compartments were full. The compartment indicator lights were all on, and the indicator lights on the rental power bank were also on, indicating that all the power banks were ready and fully charged.
The upper part of the cabinet has a large screen displaying the power bank models and QR code rental instructions. Scanning the code through the app allows users to operate the rental process. In terms of cost, the initial 30 minutes incur a fee of $3, with a maximum charge limit of $40. Similar to other parts of the world, holding onto it permanently or losing it could result in a significant cost to "purchase" ownership, which is often not a favorable deal.
The Charge FUZE rental power bank itself has a common flat design with four remaining battery indicator lights on its body. The bottom features charging contact points for the cabinet. It integrates three charging cables at the bottom—Micro USB, USB-C, and Lightning—ensuring compatibility with mainstream consumer electronic products, although its capacity and performance details are temporarily unclear.
ChargeGoGo rental power bank cabinets have a total of 32 compartments for users to rent and return, arranged in a 2x16 grid. When we saw this one, there were 5 power banks already borrowed. All the other compartments had their colorful indicator lights on, except for one. This means there are either 26 power banks in ready-to-use, fully charged state, or there is only one.
ChargeGoGo rental power banks themselves are also flat, with a gray finish that looks like aluminum. More detailed port types and cable specifications were not visible. Rental is done by scanning a QR code to download the app. The screen did not display the rental fee.
FuelRod rental power bank cabinets are wall-mounted, and look like condom vending machines. They are smaller than the previous two "big guys." It is not clear how many power banks are deployed in a single cabinet. A small tablet, possibly an old iPad, is placed in front of the cabinet. Users need to use the screen on the tablet to rent, return, or exchange power banks.
FuelRod rental power banks are cylindrical, with a single lithium-ion battery. The top has a 1A1C dual-way charging port. FuelRod adopts a relatively new "exchangeable battery" mode. Users can purchase or rent a FuelRod rental power bank, or rent a power bank charging cable set with USB-A to Micro USB, USB-A to Lightning, or USB-C adapters. When returning, simply place the power bank in the circular slot of the cabinet. The recycling method is similar to "coin insertion."
Compared with the traditional short-term rental method when needed, FuelRod hopes that people will use its power banks regularly, similar to the battery exchange method used by electric vehicles. When the power bank is out of power, you can choose to insert it into the cabinet and replace it with a fully charged power bank. Personally, I think it is better to buy a new power bank that can quickly charge yourself. However, it still depends on the individual.
Summary of ChargerLAB
Rental power banks can be seen all over the places in shopping malls, universities, and airports in the United States. Consumers are already accustomed to renting rental power banks to provide emergency power for their phones. This is similar to most parts of the world.
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