LAS VEGAS – Last year at CES, tech accessory company Targus revealed the Mobile VIP+ backpack, which had a compartment that could wirelessly charge a smartphone on the go. This year, the company has improved on its design with the Targus Cypress+ EcoSmart backpack with Qi wireless charging ($180). This pricey pack boasts an improved design that will keep your phone still enough to charge, even when you jostle it. But moreover, the accessory comprises mostly recycled materials: 26 plastic water bottles, to be precise.
I got a chance to try on the Cypress+ EcoSmart at CES 2020, where I also learned a little more about how efficiently it might charge a phone out in the field. As backpacks go, it’s not cheap. But it seems durable, and the Qi charging solves a very real problem of phone cables coming loose when you try to charge them via portable chargers or powered backpacks with wires. The backpack should come out around the middle of this year.
While the Cypress+ EcoSmart isn’t the first Targus backpack with Qi charging, it’s still probably the product’s best feature. Speaking only from personal experience, plugging a phone into a backpack charger is a total crapshoot. Sometimes, your phone will charge exactly as intended; more often, simple gravity will force the cable out of its port, meaning that you’ll have to spend yet another few hours with an unpowered phone.
That’s why the Cypress+ EcoSmart has a small pouch in its side, just big enough for a smartphone. (The pouch can fit fairly large phones, like an iPhone 11 Pro Max; smaller models pose no challenge, either, since the compartment shuts tightly.) You simply drop a Qi-charging-enabled phone into the pouch, zip it up, and wait.
The charging time depends upon your phone, but the Cypress+ EcoSmart has a 5,000 mAh capacity. That’s enough to charge many phones twice, most phones about 1.5 times and almost every phone once. The charging pad uses a Qi 4.0 protocol, and can transmit up to 10W of power. The backpack itself recharges through a standard USB-A connection.
As a backpack
Beyond that, the Cypress+ EcoSmart looks like a medium-sized, durable backpack. It has three main compartments, aside from the charging pouch: a thin one for laptop storage, a large one for everyday sundries and a small one for pens, notebooks and such. The backpack itself is about 1.5 feet tall, making it a good companion for everyday storage, albeit too big for certain performance venues, and too small for longer, more involved trips.
Targus also claims that 26 recycled water bottles go into the construction of each Cypress+ EcoSmart backpack. While Tom’s Guide doesn’t have the resources to verify this claim independently, it does seem like a much better use of old water bottles than clogging up a landfill somewhere.
As for whether the backpack is worth the asking price, it depends on how much Qi charging means to you. It’s a useful feature that you could easily employ every day – provided that you have a Qi-enabled phone, of course. But it also means that the backpack costs about $100 more than comparable non-electronic models. You could buy a very fancy portable charger and some tight cables to go with it, for that amount of money.
At the very least, you’ll be making an environmentally friendly purchase.
Be sure to check out our CES 2020 hub for the latest news and hands-on impressions out of Las Vegas.
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Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.