Meet Phorce, A Smart Bag That Charges Your Gadgets And Provides Power Management Via Bluetooth

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I like gadgets, and almost out of necessity  I also like bags. The Phorce, a new project hitting Kickstarter today, knows that there are many out there like me, and wants to provide a bag-based charging solution to help you keep your gadgets protected and topped off, with the added benefit of additional power management options communicated to an iPhone app via Bluetooth.

The Phorce comes in two flavors, one designed for mobile USB-charged devices, and one designed for more power-hungry Macs. The USB version can charge up to 3 devices simultaneously and has enough power to recharge your iPhone 5 over 8 times, or double the life of your iPad battery. Phorce for Mac can also add 3.5 hours to the battery life of a 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro, or 7 hours to the 13-inch MacBook Air. It’s a little like having the HyperJuice external battery I reviewed yesterday sewn into a stylish messenger bag, but with slightly less power in exchange for greater convenience.

The Phorce also features a convertible design, in either red, black, green or a fourth color to be determined by voter choice. It can become a messenger bag, briefcase, or two shoulder backpack in a snap, features a sheath for sticking to your extendable luggage handle, and has an expansion zipper if you need more volume for additional gadget storage. It’s made out of coated fabric that’s water-resistant and has waterproof zippers to try to ensure that your gear stays dry even in adverse weather conditions, and even with the included 54Wh battery, it only weighs in at 3.7 pounds, or around the same weight as a new 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro.

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Both the USB and Mac flavor Phorce take around 4 hours to recharge completely, but the Mac version has a pocket that fits 15-inch MacBooks, while the USB can only carry up to 14-inch notebooks. Both versions feature a neat additional trick in the form of a companion app, which lets you connect via Bluetooth to your bag from your smartphone and tells you things like how much juice is left in the Phorce, and what that power could translate to in terms of battery life extension for various devices. Plus, the app can send push notifications if it detects the bag has been left behind (i.e., lost connection) or if the battery is nearly dry and needs a top-up.

Phorce is planning on a May 2013 ship date, and you can get on board for only $199 for a pre-order of the USB variety in the color of your choice. Those looking for Mac power will need to pony up at least $279 for an early bird priced pre-order, however, and it’s worth noting that Macs are powered, not charged, meaning you’ll have to stay tethered to the bag when using Phorce once you’re nearing battery depletion on the notebook. That’s due to Apple’s limitations for how third-party devices can provide power to its notebooks. Phorce is looking for $150,000 to fully fund its development, but says it will add 10 percent more battery capacity with the same weight and size if it reaches its $750,000 stretch goal.

We’ll definitely be getting one of these to test out once they’re ready. Anything that gives gadgets some extra life is a worthwhile project in my book.

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