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As relative new kid on the block, Caseco is working its way into the wireless market. A Canadian brand, the company has a fully-developed line that ranges from protective smartphone cases, to portable chargers. Here, we take a look at the Shock Express case, and the new PowerBox Universal backup battery charger.

Caseco Shock Express Case

Available for the iPhone 5, 5s, 5c, 4, and 4s, as well as the Samsung Galaxy S3, S4, and S4 Mini, I tried a version of this case for the iPhone 4s.

It’s a dual-layered smartphone cover that’s finished in soft rubber on the inside to protect the phone from shock, and has a solid outer shell to protect from impact and scratches. It is also slip-resistant, thanks to raised bumps on either side.

In the package along with the case is a screen protector, easily applied using the included applicator to help smooth it out. (I opted not to install it, however, since I already have a tempered glass screen protector on my device.) There’s also a tiny cleaning cloth for wiping away pesky smudges.

The case comes in seven colours, including basic black and white. The turquoise/blue shade depicted here adds a nice pop of colour to the back of the phone, with the Caseco logo featured prominently in the bottom, right corner.

The case adds minimal bulk to the phone, but offers nice, rounded edges, and a slightly raised surrounding lip at the front to help protect the screen in the event of a face-first fall. While the raised bumps run along the sides, the back is a glossy material. The headphone jack, side function button, charging port, and camera lens are all left open for easy access, while the power button and volume up/down are covered with raised rubber. This is just as easy to depress, though, not impacting use of the device at all.

Priced at $30, the Shock Express case is fairly good value for what it is, which is a simple case that offers a level of protection for your device. It’s not the most fashionable, nor the most rugged. But it’s a viable solution for the price.

Caseco PowerBox Universal Backup Battery Charger

The small, rectangular, cube-shaped PowerBox Universal charger is meant for emergency backup power while on the go. It’s a 2,600 mAh charger, which means it can charge virtually any portable device, including tablets, at full speed.

It comes with a USB cable for charging via connection to a computer or USB wall outlet; but also has a USB out port, for reversing the cable, and charging up a microUSB-based portable device. Apple devices can be charged using their own cables. Either way, you must have a cable with you in order to use the PowerBox.

As the device is charging, its LED illuminates red to indicate that the battery is not full just yet. Once it reaches full charge, the light goes off. The included warranty card suggests charging for at least five hours before the first use, though subsequent charges take far less time. So I did just this.

Once it’s fully charged, keep the PowerBox in your pocket, purse, backpack, or briefcase, then pull it out, along with the cable, whenever your device’s battery is running low. Plug it in, and it will light up blue to indicate charging as your phone or tablet fills back up with juice.

As with other portable chargers that aren’t built into cases or plug directly into a phone’s charging port, you’d need to hold the PowerBox in your hand, or lay it on the table, while the phone is plugged in. Or, if your cord allows, keep it in your pocket with the cable running up to your ear if you need to actually make/answer a call.

One gloomy day, I found myself arriving early for a doctor’s appointment, and waiting for more than an hour (as Canadians often do) to get called in. After exhausting all of the old waiting rooms magazines, I found myself e-mailing, social networking, instant messaging, and Web surfing on my phone to pass the time. Not surprisingly, my phone’s battery was at 10% in no time. I popped in the PowerBox, and my phone reached a 60% charge in less than a half an hour.

By my calculation, the PowerBox is good for about one full charge of a device before it needs charging up again. So while it does charge your devices rapidly, it also depletes its own battery just as rapidly. That said, in most cases, just one extra boost is all you’ll need.

The PowerBox comes in five colours, and sells for $40. It’s a fairly affordable option when it comes to portable power. And the design is nice enough that it will appeal to both those who want practicality and an attractive look.

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