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Belkin's GaN power packs (CES 2020)

Belkin makes your laptop charge pack smaller with GaN

There’s a new term you’ll want to memorise, because if you’re ever in the market for an extra power pack for your lappy, the size alone makes it worth a look.

Regardless of the laptop you own, there’s probably a good chance carrying the power brick is the least enjoyable part. It’s a thing, and we get it.

Unless you have the pint-sized power pack for the MacBook Air, you probably have a monster of a thing you need to take with you, and that’s a shame. It’s a shame for you, your back, and your luggage, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

One of the trends coming out of peripheral makers we’re seeing at CES 2020 on the ground at the show is the introduction of Gallium Nitride, a component material that isn’t silicon and is replacing it, and that we’ve been told at CES runs cooler and means parts can be moved closer together.

Also read as GaN, Gallium Nitride is allowing parts and accessory makers to build smaller things, and one of those is power packs, which Belkin demonstrated this week.

The company showed off three chargers that could be used for laptops, including a 30W, a 60W, and a 68W, and all three were smaller than the 60W charger a MacBook Pro ships with, but yet able to be used with that MacBook Pro because of the same wattage and same USB Type C port.

Belkin's GaN power packs (CES 2020)

In reality, the 30W Belkin Boost Charge GaN charger is actually more like one of the small chargers for an iPad. It’s small and impressive, enough so that just from the quick hands on we’ve had, it will end up being one of those power packs you won’t mind keeping in your luggage because of just how crazy stupid small the thing is. Instead, you’ll be able to leave the proper charger for your computer at home, and carry around Belkin’s replacement.

Belkin also has a couple of Boost Charge Power Banks being introduced, with a 10,000mAh version able to fast charge an iPhone from zero to 50 in 30 minutes, while a 20,000mAh can be used to provide up to 28 hours extra battery for a MacBook, and there are a few other options, too.

Belkin’s Boost Charge range seems to be a little on fire this year in regards to releases, with the Boost Charge iPhone and Apple Watch stand upgraded to support a third device, the wireless AirPods, while other Boost Charge options include a wireless car charger to hold onto air conditioner vents, a wireless charging stand for the home that also include a speaker (one that was a little brighter than we expected in our tests), and the Boost Charge Portable Wireless Charger and Stand, which delivers a 10,000mAh power bank with a small stand to hold the phone up. That last one could be ideal for a flight, especially if you’re running out of charge but want to keep watching something.

Across most of the range, there’s also a fairly consistent new design language for Belkin, with soft curved edges that are less like the brick designs you might have seen in the past, and a little nicer on the hands and eyes.

Belkin's new battery packs

However, as with most CES releases, Australian pricing and availability is a little bit more of an unknown, more for pricing rather than availability. Belkin’s local people mentioned that across the ranges, some of these should be appearing in a few months, though it’s possible others will be later in the year.

Frankly, we’re just hoping to see the GaN chargers coming faster, because anything that prevents us from carrying a big brick of a thing is a big win in our books.

Leigh Stark was flown to CES 2020 in Las Vegas, USA as a guest of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA).

Belkin's wireless charge stand
The charge stand we reviewed last year can now wirelessly charge a pair of AirPods and AirPods Pro, too. Neat.
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