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Review: Digital Treasures Props Power Case – the case for the power-hungry iPad owner


As someone with years of experience of pushing the battery-life of laptops to the limit, the iPad was something of a revelation. If we ignore the time I stupidly left the Smartcover auto on/off engaged while it was in a bicycle pannier on a London to Paris cycle ride, I've literally never run out of power.

However, since I was reviewing the Digital Treasures Powerflask, I thought I would look at the company's Props Power Case at the same time. The concept is a simple one: a protective case with a built-in battery. Plug your iPad into the case, and the case provides the power…

First impressions

The case is made from the same faux-leather as the Powerflask, with the same red stitching. The feel of the material gives it away, as I mentioned in the Powerflask review, but it certainly looks the part.

At first glance, the Power Case looks a little bulky. Both front and back covers are two-ply: the rear cover housing the battery, as well as the front using the typical hinged flap approach to hold the iPad upright when in use. In reality, the battery section is pretty much the exact thickness of my Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard. It just feels thicker as it looks like a standard leather case, and we automatically expect it to be equally thin.

The iPad clips into the case with the fairly standard approach of four semi-flexible corner clips. Fitting an iPad 2 into it is very slightly fiddly, but it is held securely once in place.

The right-hand side of the case holds the only visible sign that there is anything special about this case: a black plastic strip with a power input socket, a micro-USB power output socket, an on switch and the same four tiny blue power indicator LEDs as the Powerflask.

Portability & protection

With the case closed, it is significantly thicker than most cases at exactly 1 inch. However, it still fit into the same slot in my bag that I use to store my iPad with the Logitech case, and the case doesn't feel like it adds any significant weight.

With the battery in the rear cover, you'd expect that side of the case to be rigid, and it is. Perhaps more surprisingly, the front cover is also stiff. With the thickness, rigidity, and slightly rubberized interior, this feels like a case that will leave your iPad well protected against pretty much anything short of an air-to-ground missile attack.


The rubberized interior also serves a second purpose: its non-slip surface means that you can literally position the iPad at any angle and it reliably stays put. This is a big improvement on cases that offer a limited number of fixed angles.

Charging the case

Who'd have thought 10 years ago that we'd update the firmware in our fridges and charge our cases?

The current version of the case has a non-standard power input socket that uses a supplied cable to charge from a USB power source. A future revision will allow both power input and output to use the same micro-USB socket. Either way, it can be charged from either a mains socket (with adapter) or laptop. But charging it fully on mains took around 12 hours, so I wouldn't recommend relying on a laptop to charge it overnight.

The four blue LEDs light up in sequence while charging, and it's fully charged when all four are solid and not flashing.

Charging your iPad

The case is supplied with a short flylead around 3 inches long. At one end is a micro-USB plug that slots into the output port on the case, and the other has a standard USB socket. The instruction leaflet said to use your existing USB cable to plug into this.


This is my one grumble with the case. On the plus side, providing a standard USB socket means you can connect either a 30-pin or Lightning connector to suit older or newer iPads. However, on the downside, the existing cables we own are likely to be a foot or more in length. Since the cable hangs outside the case, this is a little unwieldy.

You can tuck the spare cable length behind the flap to get most of it out of sight, but with the dongle and more cable length than you need, it feels messy (especially as the case is black and most cables are white).

I was hoping that I could use the iPad without plugging it in while actually in use, and then plug it in to recharge while it was in my bag. But, with two connectors sticking out, it risks snagging one or both connectors on your bag. It's not a big deal, but it does feel like a less than optimal approach. Putting the battery immediately behind the iPad and using a short length of ribbon connector would be so much neater.

The arrangement does mean, though, you can use the case to charge other USB-powered devices like an iPhone.


The full-sized case is available in two capacities: an 8,000mAh version for $89.99 and a 12,000maH one for $119.99. The iPad Mini version obviously has less room for the battery, so it is limited to 8,000mAh.

I tested the 8000mAh version with my iPad 2, charging the iPad to full, setting it not to power down, and then using it normally at my standard brightness level of around 50 percent. The sums said I should get 11.5 hours usage from my iPad 2 with the iPad's own battery remaining fully charged.

Unlike the Powerflask, however, the practice didn't match the theory: the Power Case battery powered the iPad for a touch over 6 hours—just over half what the numbers suggested.

On that basis, I'd expect the 1200mAh version to see around 9 hours. An iPad 3 or 4, which draw twice as much power, would likely see half of that. Case battery plus iPad battery would thus give a total battery-life of anything from 13 hours for an iPad 3 or 4 in the 8,000mAh case to 19 hours for an iPad 2 in the 12,000mAh version.


As I mentioned at the outset, I'm not the target market for this case. I have yet to exhaust the battery of my iPad, despite using it very extensively while out and about.

I'm also a firm fan of keyboard cases, having used the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover since it was launched. Indeed—such is my addiction to same that I carried the keyboard as well during this test and slotted it under the Power Case flap in a Heath Robinson-ish arrangement that worked but didn't exactly look like a solution designed by Jony Ive.

But for those who can manage with the on-screen keyboard, and who need more than 10 hours' use per day, the Power Case provides a workmanlike if somewhat inelegant solution. With the ribbon cable arrangement I suggested, it would be significantly more aesthetically pleasing in use.

The Power Case is available for $79.99 for the iPad Mini, $89.99 for the 8,000mAh iPad case, and $119.99 for the 12,000mAh iPad case. 

Apple Working on Dedicated iOS Game Controller? [Updated]

Pocketgamer reports that Apple spoke with a number of developers at the Game Developers Conference this week about providing game support for a new, official iOS game controller. Apple was rumored to have a physical game controller in the works for the iPhone last year, but nothing has yet seen the light of day.
Two iCade Game Controller Products
Of course, there's no official word yet, but Apple has been active during the conference talking to developers about its plans and ensuring plenty of games will support the joypad at launch.

It's been operating a meeting room at the show, albeit booked under a pseudonym company name to avoid media attention.

However, speaking anonymously, multiple developer sources have confirmed the news to
Back in 2008, Apple applied for a patent relating to a Wiimote-like controller, but there is no indication that patent is related to this effort.

There are a number of third-party game controllers including the iCade line and an Atari Joystick. However, these third-party efforts have been hampered by a lack of widespread support from developers.

MacRumors had heard previously that Apple had originally supported accessory makers in their quest to make official dock-connector game controllers, but then the approval process was mysteriously halted. Some had speculated at the time that Apple was working on their own game controller solution.

For what it's worth, none of our GDC contacts have heard anything to corroborate the Pocketgamer story, and there is no indication of when or if such a controller might launch.

Update 1:33 PM: The Loop's Jim Dalrymple has quashed the rumor, responding to Pocketgamer's report with a simple "Nope".

Apple Has No Plans for Dedicated iOS Gaming Controller

app_store_games_bannerFollowing today's rumor that Apple was quietly polling developers at this week's Game Developers Conference about support for a forthcoming gaming controller for iOS devices, the ever-reliable Jim Dalrymple has quickly quashed that report.

As usual, Dalrymple provides no additional comment beyond a simple "Nope", but his selective quoting of the source material suggests that he is denying any current plans for an Apple-branded controller.
"Long rumoured – and hoped for – GDC 2013 has finally provided confirmation that Apple will release its own dedicated game controller."

Dalrymple has solid connections at Apple and has on numerous occasions and with 100% accuracy either confirmed or denied specific rumors. Prior to today, his most recent such statement came last month when he nixed a claim of a television-related Apple media event scheduled Apple for this month.

Apple’s Chinese woes increase as State-owned film studio sues

Photo: South China Morning Post

Photo: South China Morning Post

A Chinese State-owned film studio is suing Apple, alleging that the company sold its animated movies on iTunes without permission, reported the South China Morning Post.

The 3.3m CNY ($531,000) lawsuit follows five consecutive days of media attacks by the State-owned People's Daily, claiming Apple's customer service and refund policies in China are inferior to those offered in other countries. Apple is also being sued by a Shanghai-based company that alleges Siri infringed a patent used in its own 'Xiao i Robot' voice-recognition systems …

The latest case is set to be heard in a Beijing court.

Shanghai Animation Film Studio, which has produced blockbuster animated movies such as The Monkey King, accuses Apple Inc and Apple Electronics Products Commerce (Beijing), one of its Chinese subsidiaries, of infringing on intellectual property rights while providing unauthorised download services in its App Store.

A senior official with the Shanghai company confirmed that it had filed the litigation with the Beijing No 2 Intermediate People's 

The Week in Tweaks: Automatic App Store updates, a new screen recorder, and more for your jailbroken

Here's a look at some of the most fun or useful jailbreak tweaks that came out this week. If you like these tweaks, but don't have a jailbroken iOS device, you can check out to learn more about how to jailbreak your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad.

Auto App Updater – $2.99

auto-app-updater-1 auto-app-updater-2

Auto App Updater is exactly what it sounds like. This great new tweak will automatically download and install updates to any of your App Store apps without any input from you. It comes with a ton of options for how often to check for updates, whether or not to use a celluar connection, whether to update apps when on battery or AC power, and even lets you blacklist apps from being automatically updated just in case there's an app you'd rather keep at a certain version.

What's more, for those of us who like to know exactly what we're getting into with each app update, Auto App Updater will store the change log for any apps that it updates so you can check and see exactly what's new. Of course, the only way you would know to check this change log is if you knew that there was an update to begin with. Since Auto App Updater installs the updates transparently in the background, you likely won't even know there are change logs to read. To fix that, the tweak can show you a notification letting you know each time an update has been installed.

Auto App Updater is seroiusly impressive and it looks like a lot of thought went into making it the most comprehensive auto-update solution possible. You can get it now on ModMyi for the reasonably low price of $2.99.

Addial – Free


Addial is a simple widget that follows the recent trend of moving the iPhone's various functions to the Notification Center two at a time. This week's addition allows you to dial a phone number or add a new contact via sharing-style buttons. Unfortunately the "dial" button doesn't allow you to call a number from your contacts at this time, so you'll need to manually type in whichever phone number you're trying to reach.

You can get Addial for free on ModMyi.

RecordMyScreen – Free


RecordMyScreen is an open source alternative to the popular Screen Recorder tweak. RecordMyScreen differs from Screen Recorder in that it doesn't actually use a dynamic library to load itself into the SpringBoard, meaning it doesn't impact performance at all unless the app is actually running. Granted, Screen Recorder doesn't take up that much of your iPhone's resources when it's not running either, but everything counts, especially on older hardware.

However, since RecordMyScreen relies on native iOS 6 methods to capture the screen, it does force a red double-height status bar to be on the screen when you're recording. That's not a huge deal-breaker, and most people probably won't mind at all. The capture quality is good, but just a tiny bit laggier than Screen Recorder.

The app's interface is also not the greatest thing I've ever seen, but it gets the job done. My biggest problem was the fact that the folder where the recordings are stored is also the folder where a bunch of other tweaks store important files, and those files appear in the list of recordings. If you delete those files from the list, they'll be deleted from your phone as well, so be careful.

Overall it's a really solid app, and for the price you can't beat it. RecordMyScreen is available for free on the BigBoss repository.