Get used to carrying a lot of charging cables around. And have fun plugging things in. You’ll be doing a lot of it. / Farhad Manjoo
One Charger to Rule them All?
Wouldn't it be nice if all your devices used the same charger? When the Apple Watch comes out, Apple alone will have three different charging systems just for its current devices.
And that doesn't include the old-style iPhone, iPad, and iPod cable. Samsung has a different charging system again. And then there's all the different USB variations for Kindles, GoPros, and your other cameras. So if you're lucky, you might be able to get away with three or four chargers anytime you travel.
If you're not so lucky, it's not unusual to have half a dozen or more. When was the last time you had a hotel room that had half a dozen outlets free and available that didn't involve unplugging the minibar fridge or the only functioning light in the room? And then you have to remember to gather them all up from all over the room when you leave.
Inateck 5 Port USB Desktop Charger
That's where this multiport desktop USB charging station from Inateck comes in. It's designed to replace multiple different chargers with one.
If your device or camera uses some form of USB charging 5V standard, you can use the cable in this multiport charger. You can therefore charge up to 5 devices at once. You still need to bring the right USB cable for your device, but you don't need to bring multiple AC power supplies. That means you only need one free AC power outlet.
And if you use some kind of cable tie to wrap all the cables together, you can reduce the charger to two pieces. That means a lot less fishing around in your luggage for the right charger and a lot less change of losing one.
Two of the five ports are designated as "Smart" ports. They offer the 5V/2.1A charging, which is what iPads use. The other three ports use standard 5V/1A charging, which is what most USB-charging devices use (including iPhones).
On a recent trip, for example, I've got a iPad, iPhone, Kindle, GoPro Hero 4 Black, and Garmin Fenix GPS Watch all charging at once. And the really nice thing is that that was using only one of the two spare AC outlets in the hotel room, freeing up the other for my laptop. It worked well and saved me the hassle of juggling chargers.
One thing I got caught with once--and thankfully only once--is that there's a power button on the back of the charging station. As you'd expect, that toggles the flow of power to the outlets. So long as you know to look for the small LED light on the top of the unit to be on, you're good to go.
I've found the Inateck unit to work very well. It's been reliable and does what it's supposed to do. It's also small and is sleek as well as functional. And it's well made.
But on the point of size and portability, there's a bit of catch. As it says right there in its name, this is really designed as a desktop charging station. It's not primarily designed for travel or portability. And so the unit is really two pieces: the charging station that you plug the USB cables into and an AC power supply. It's the AC power supply that's the catch. It's big. Bigger than the charging station itself. Here's a shot with it side-by-side with an iPad power supply, for example.
Overall, it's still a net gain in size and weight rather than bringing multiple chargers--and it still means you only need one power outlet--but it's definitely a consideration when packing light. And if you're staying put, it's really not an issue at all. The part that sits on your desk is still small and light, and the power supply itself can be hidden away.
What's in the box?
- 1 x USB Desktop Charger
- 1 x User's manual
- 1 x AC power cord
- 1 x 12V/3A AC Power Supply
Is it compatible with iPhones and iPads? What about Android smartphones and tablets?
Yes, it includes two ports designated as "super" ports that feed 5V/2.1A volts. The others are universal ports that feed a standard 5V/1A. Inateck has put together a chart with some common phone and tablet models and their relative charging time here.
How big is it?
The actual dimensions of the charging station are 10.2 x 5.7 x 2.1 cm. It fits easily in a pocket. The AC power supply is larger than the charging station and won't easily fit in a pocket.
Will it work overseas?
Yes. The power supply is a switching power supply, so it'll work on anything from 110 to 240 volts. But it does not include an adapter for international power sockets--you'll need one of those separately.
Will it work in a car?
No. For a car adapter, I recommend something like the Powergen Dual Port Car Charger.
Can it be power by a laptop's USB port?
No. It can only be powered by AC power using the power supply that's included (Input: AC100-240V~, 50/60Hz, 1.5A | Output: 12 V - 3000mA)
Can it be used as a USB hub?
No. It's only for charging.
Will I damage my device if I plug it into the wrong port?
No. The charging station automatically detects the device's rating and adjusts accordingly so as not to cause damage.
Where Can I Buy It?
Inateck is selling only through Amazon at the present time. You can find it here.