Review: RAVPower PD Pioneer 20000 AC


Something a little different, but which has the potential to save your bacon when mobile - these have been around for a few years but rarely in UK mains format and rarely so polished. Essentially this is a 20000mAh power bank with full PD (Power Delivery) right up to Macbook levels, but which also includes a 240V inverter, i.e. it generates mains electricity from its stored charge. And that's pretty neat - I've been going round my tech and household working out what it can and can't do!

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Made, seemingly, in heavy duty polycarbonate, but with a rubberised finish, the PD Pioneer is quite impressive in the hand. A strip of five LEDs across the middle show charge state (or, when all blinking, that you're over-reaching in terms of mains power needed), while the bottom has a grille with cooling fan behind it(!), and the top has all the ports:

The USB-A port goes up to 18W and supports Quick Charge 3.0, while the USB Type C port goes up to 30W with full PD compliance, opening up powering and charging various laptops and hybrids. 

So far so good, then. But the USP here, as you'll see above, is a full UK mains socket (versions for other markets and pin formats are available). This is rated up to 80W continuous (with a 100W peak), which is substantial by power bank standards, and so while the AC is operating the bottom fan spins up - it's noisier than your average laptop fan, but not too intrusive:

So... what you can actually do with a power bank that supplies AC mains power? Possibly more and possibly less than you might think - it all depends on maths and working out the power requirement of the thing you trying to charge or power. Under 80W and it will 'just work'. Tip over 80W and the socket becomes inoperative, to stop the gadget over-heating, which is sensible. You get all five LEDs blinking to indicate the overage.

Things which won't work (in my testing):

  • kettles, toasters, hairdryers, and anything which involves generating heat!
  • some 'fast' laptop chargers
  • home cinema projectors

Things which probably will work (and which I tested successfully):

  • most laptop power adapters
  • lights
  • most TVs
  • DVD players and 'smart' streaming boxes
  • routers

As to what you actually might use this for, perhaps something in the list above inspired you? Or perhaps the photo above will - here I'm powering and charging a DELL laptop, while simultaneously charging a Lumia 950 XL and a Samsung Galaxy S9+. And it all seemed to work, amazingly. 

But expectations should be kept in check, not just for how much/little power the PD Pioneer can supply, but of duration. For example, drawing 80W over 240V means a current of 0.33A. Or in powerbank (3.7V) terms, this is about 20A, rather neatly meaning that you can exhaust the fully charged accessory in just under an hour. So don't expect the world.

Do note, by the way, that the printing on the box and on the PD Pioneer itself is apparently wrong. I've quoted 80W continuous AC (with a peak of 100W) and this seems right from my tests. Apparently the improvement was made at the engineering stage and many current units still bear the old numbers! For the record, the rear of this review unit shows:

The acid question is whether the RAVPower PD Pioneer makes it into my gadget bag. On balance yes - it's twice the size and weight of my existing 20000mAh bank, but does add a whole new possibility in terms of keeping a laptop or hybrid or other mains-charged gadget going for longer when mobile, or being able to power something that has to be used for short periods too far away from a traditional socket, perhaps saving the day. You know me, I like to travel prepared for anything. But yes, this is a chunky beast and would only be appropriate for a briefcase or sizeable laptop/gadget bag, I think.

Overall thumbs up though - it does what it says 'on the tin' as it were, and arguably more.

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