This post was originally published in the Southwest Journal, a Southwest Minneapolis community newspaper.
This month I got to try out a product from EJ Case, a local startup company based in Edina that manufactures and distributes a multi-use device called the XTorch. The XTorch is a portable, handheld device — a rechargeable, solar powered flashlight, lantern and cell phone charger all in one.
It gets even more interesting. According to a statement on their website, their mission is: “To bring mobile light and power to those who suffer without; working in partnership with International Non-Profits in support of their efforts in disaster relief, refugee aid, medical and general humanitarian outreach.”
Said founder Gene Palusky: “The idea of the XTorch came to me after my time spent working in Equatorial Guinea, Africa and the Dominican Republic, where I witnessed the difficulties the local populations suffered each day and night due to the lack of reliable light and power.”
Palusky continued: “We have devices in over 20 countries, working in partnership with humanitarian non-profit organizations that focus on emergency relief, refugees, medical outreach and orphanages. We have also just begun to sell domestically, via our website and use part of the profits to donate devices around the world.”
Their website states that 25 percent of the XTorch’s retail net profit will be donated to assist non-profit organizations to support children’s education, women’s safety and small business development. Sounds like a great mission to me!
The company has already helped Compassion International, Haiti by providing 195 XTorches to school-aged children to help them with reading and studying in the dark. They also donated to Medical Ambassadors International for their midwife training programs in Argentina and Haiti, where midwives are often working and traveling in the dark.
The Xtorch is designed for camping and off-grid use, as well as emergency use when one’s home electrical power goes out. It is physically built for these uses too, being water resistant and built to float. Additionally, it has a spring-activated clip for hooking onto your other gear, a glow in the dark gasket and is built of high-impact ABS/polycarbonate.
I love the company’s mission and the applications for the device. My main takeaway is that this is a flashlight and lantern first and foremost and a cell phone charger second.
The company claims that the XTorch can charge a cell phone up to 50 percent, and that is a great additional feature, but not a major selling point domestically in my opinion.
It was slow to charge my phone, but no complaints here, as this is great as a backup device for your phone: helping you get some juice into a dead device, as opposed to charging your phone up for a fresh day of use.
The XTorch sells for $44.95. And remember that 25 percent of retail net profit gets donated towards charitable causes.
The XTorch lacks any method of checking the current battery charge in order to tell whether it needs to be recharged or not. This would be nice feature to have, so you know whether you need to charge your charger so that it is ready when needed. It would also help to know how much time is left while it is charging.
It comes with multiple micro-USB cable connections for Android and a lightning cable connection for Apple devices. However, it is not USB-C compatible without an adapter or using your own USB-A to USB-C cable, and this is worth noting as many new Android smartphones are coming with USB-C.
Aside from its benefits to disaster relief and general humanitarian outreach, I consider the XTorch an excellent device for camping and keeping in the car or home for emergencies.
Paul Burnstein is a tech handyman. As the founder of Gadget Guy MN, Paul helps personal and business clients optimize their use of technology. He can be found through gadgetguymn.com or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.