Satechi 7-Port USB Charger Hardware Review

Satechi 7-Port USB Charger Hardware Review

Jun 3, 2015

*Groan*

There I go again, whining about the, uh, problem of having so many tech pieces. They begin to add up, and until someone makes a fortune from making a truly long-lasting battery, one is going to need a whole lot of electrical sources. If you’re somewhat of a platform agnostic individual like myself, you wanna own a device from as many mobile platforms as possible. Add in some tech-obsessed offspring, and we have a charging problem.

Still, I’m a sucker for simple solutions. My current one (plugging devices into several outlets across several rooms) is not reasonable. Thus, I am kind of digging the Satechi 7-Port USB Charger — even before formally checking it out.

The concept is simple: a self-contained dock especially suited to store and charge phones, tablets and most things in-between. So, with one power source, we get to take care of seven rechargeable devices.

Nice.

Satechi sent us the white version (black is also available); the retail package contains the charging dock, the power supply, velcro ties and documentation. The main base is mostly white, and the top part is black, and has eight clear dividers affixed, such that there are seven distinct slots for mobile devices. On the one side, there are USB ports that line up with the created slots, as well as a port for the included power supply. Also pertinent to note is the power button/LED light on the open surface of the unit. Officially, it is 7.4 x 5.5 x 2.6 inches and weighs 13.4 ounces.

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For the curious, 4 of the USB outlets are rated for “mobile” devices — in other words, 1A. The other three do 2A, which is becoming increasingly more important for more powerful devices. Each port has surge protection (huge), and the whole piece includes a smart chip to prevent over-charging.

In practice, it does swimmingly. In extended testing, it works great as a cross-platform charger, and it does bring a distinct organized feel to multiple devices. Because of th design, it is useful with rechargeable bluetooth keyboards and even a smartpen or two.

The unit does not provide USB cables, so there is a bit of a jumble with regards to the excess cable if one isn’t using short ones. Still, I rather prefer the bring your own cable concept, as it allows me to bring out the archived Palm PDA with its proprietary USB cable. The included velcro strips do help with taming the excess.

it’s a useful piece; value-wise, it is a bit of an investment ($54.99 via Amazon), but with the extra device protection, the price does feel a bit more palatable.

FUEL iON Magnetic Wireless Charging System

FUEL iON Magnetic Wireless Charging System

Feb 23, 2015

So many devices… and so little, uh, battery time?

With all the unique devices out their, the one thing a lot of us would trade it all away for is probably extremely long battery life. Next best is probably an easier, wireless method of charging — and this something the FUEL iON Magnetic Wireless Charging System from Patriot promises to deliver via advertised neodymium technology.

The review package that Patriot sent to us was rated specifically for the Samsung Galaxy S5, and contained a white charging base, a back cover, micro-USB cable and documentation. The dock comes in hard plastic, with a logo on it; the case is grayish and the cable is stark white. In hand, the case feels decently constructed, and the dock unit has a decent heft without being too weighty.

Setting up is fairly intuitive. The powered cable goes into the dock, and the replacement cover goes on the device. At first the glance, one might be forgiven for wondering about the construction of the the dock; usually, one would expect a lip of sorts at the bottom, but with this one, the “back” tapers down into deliberate nothingness. This design paradigm hints at the major functionality of the system: magnetic charging.

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The replacement back has pins that line up the Galaxy S5’s charging ports. Almost hidden towards the top of the dock is a small, circular component; this piece is magnetic, and it allows the device to adhere to the dock via the matching component on the rear of the system back piece. And then — get this — the device gets charged by magnetic contact.

This product claims to be faster than Qi charging; in my decidedly unscientific experiments, I tried charging the same device for about 20% increase in battery, alternating between Qi charging system and the FUEL iON. This unit did best the Qi standard handily.

Aesthetically, the system looks good too. I am a simple guy, and enjoy simple things. I like that I can be fairly loose with placement, and the phone holds in place. It doesn’t occupy too much physical space, so it works well as a semi permanent permanent charging and storage solution. I used the system to consume media in landscape, and even as a casting holder. I especially like that the system is somewhat expandable with other portable accessories.

My biggest whine is that outside five or so Galaxy and iPhone devices, there aren’t any compatible cases for most Android devices. Still, it isn’t overly expensive (at $79.99 on Amazon), as it is comparably to regular inductive units.

All in all, it’s worth checking out, and not just for the unique nature; it is a solid solution.

HUB-IT Sync & Charge Station Hardware Review

HUB-IT Sync & Charge Station Hardware Review

Jan 20, 2015

Okay. So the HUB-IT Sync & Charge Station looks to charge several mobile units at once. And?

Not so fast. Seriously.

The review unit sent to us packs the main unit, four cartridges (more on this later), power cable and a lot of paperwork. We also got a curious extra qi-enabled cartridge which was an enigma at first. It has an interestingly classic look: ebony, glossy black, and it looks like the base of a four-sided pyramid (with most of the top cleanly shorn off).

Out of each side, there is a charging cable which, in the stock state, barely extends past beyond the main unit. The review unit sent to us showcased a typical set up of the system: micro-USB piece, macro-USB, Apple-centric lightning cable and legacy charging cable too. The cables are retractable; one can pull at a cable to make use of the cable, and then pull it again to make it retract. Beneath three of the cables, there is one USB port each; the fourth has a port for power input, and one for micro-USB 3.0. It sports 7 LED lights as well. Size-wise it’s 6.69 x 6.69 x 1.34 inches and weighs just under 9 oz.

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On its own, based on this feature set, the Hub-it works well. It intuitively can be plugged into a wall socket and provide up to 4A of current to several mobile devices.

It’s the component system that really makes this unit stand apart.

The included documentation encourages one to pop the removable top of the unit. Doing so reveals the interior and the creative aspect of the dock. Each charging cable is an independent piece evaded in a plastic, spring-loaded “cartridge; each one can be be moved around, swapped out and replaced with another if need be. Thus, one only can install only required cartridges he/she wants. As such, the dock is quite customizable. The true utility is in these cartridges; one can even add cartridges for handheld gaming units. There are “power” slots too, which allow one to add qi-wireless functionality, or even a power pack to create a power bank.

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In practice, the components we used worked fabulously, and I came away pleasantly surprised.

This unit is one of those that sells itself to you very quickly. It isn’t the cheapest solution (at $72.89 on Amazon), but the whole thing is not too hard to justify, and the extra cartridges are fairly affordable at under $8.00. I do harbor preemptive concerns with regards to the long term efficacy of the cable retraction, and the top feels a bit delicate.

The true testament is that in a short time, the Hub-It has elbowed it way into my workflow. For me, that is truth enough.

Crowdfunding Spotlight: ThermaCharge

Crowdfunding Spotlight: ThermaCharge

Jul 30, 2014

Looking around the KickStarter universe and it becomes apparent that consumers want to charge their phones by any means necessary. There are chargers for wallets, paper towel racks, purses, and now thermoses. Thermoses? Yes, that metal double-walled container that holds the morning coffee now contains a 1,000 mAh lithium ion battery in the base that charges via the hot morning liquid. The device, the ThermaCharge, takes advantage of what is known as the Seebeck effect which creates power from of a difference in temperature between two surfaces.

Certainly sounds like one of the more outlandish projects we have covered here, and I would absolutely agree. But after thinking on it some more I can really see the times when this would be useful. Imagine going camping and being without power for a few days, but still wanting to be able to call a family member or keep in touch with civilization while out in the wilderness. Simply boil some water over the campfire and in a few minutes the ThermaCharge has enough juice to bring any standard phone up to 60% or 70% battery.

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For those who do not hear Nature’s call as loudly as most the internal battery can be charged via conventional means for a quick mid-day pep charge. The biggest thing for a project like this is the price. The ThermaChare is definitely not a product that is worth spending a lot of money considering most people take their morning coffee mug into the office with them and there is no shortage of USB ports there. I could see this being really successful as a camping or hiking product or even for students who do not bring a laptop with them to class.

Fortunately, the smallest ThermaCharge is being offered for only a $60 donation, and the largest runs for a cool $75. For those who are just looking for a cheap gift there is also a non-thermal-charging version that comes with an internal battery which more than doubles the capacity of the standard ThermaCharge at 2,200 mAh. But considering that, even if the ThermaCharge is never used for the containing of a beverage, it is still a $60 thermoelectric power source; which is not something to take lightly.

Presenting Magnector: Magnetic Charging System for Mobiles, Now for Nexus 7

Presenting Magnector: Magnetic Charging System for Mobiles, Now for Nexus 7

Jan 17, 2014

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Magnector is a revolutionary charging system that connects to the socket with a simple to remove magnetic lock. This means that the charging cable is easy to connect and remove – meaning that you won’t break your phone, if you accidentally trip over the power chord, and that you won’t wear out the socket. Magnector is available for various mobiles and tablets, including iPhones and Samsung Galaxy tabs. You can find more details and prices over here: Magnector Website.

KickStarter Spotlight: Synergy

KickStarter Spotlight: Synergy

Aug 14, 2013

For the uninitiated wireless charging seems like a folly. Something that is inherently impossible that does not seem logical. Well, wireless charging is, in fact, a real thing and it is expected that the next generation of smartphones will include some kind of wireless charging capability. This is all well and good but for now the mats that these devices are charged on are quite bulky and mostly just take up space. Not to mention that the phone is essentially paralyzed and inert lying down on a table during the charging process.

Hailing from Austin, Texas Daniel D’Agostino and his impressive KickStarter project, Synergy, set out to change the landscape of wireless charging forever. By creating a solid, well crafted stand and incorporating wireless charging into it, Daniel has created a device that allows for the most convenient charging experience to date. Synergy is perfect for offices and is especially useful in the car. No suction cup gimmicks here, simply place an adhesive base plate behind the rear-view mirror and snap Synergy on before setting out on the morning commute. Thanks to programmable NFC tags a specific program or action can be run upon connection making this process even more user-friendly.

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Synergy uses Qi; a standard in the world of wireless charging, but most current generation smartphone will have no problem connecting to the device via a separate case that attaches to the incredibly powerful rare-earth magnet. The feature that impressed me most after looking at Synergy’s KickStarter page had to be the strength of this magnet; as there seemed to be no way to accidentally shake or push a phone off the stand. Wether this magnet is harmful to a phone remains to be seen, but at least the phones in the video seemed to be working just fine. I would just advise keeping wallets well clear of this face.

Synergy comes with two “base stations” one for the car and a 1.5 lb bedside stand. The actual mounting plate does not carry a charge but draws the power from these stations and plays the middleman. The front face even lights up for a few seconds when an object comes within a few inches of its proximity sensor which facilitates nighttime charging. Personally, I am excited to see this project reach the shelves; not only for Daniel, but because of all the competing products that will expedite the arrival of ubiquitous wireless charging. This could be the catalyst for the future, but only if it is funded by Saturday, August 24th.

KickStarter Spotlight: Phorce

KickStarter Spotlight: Phorce

Nov 21, 2012

A few months ago I did a KickStarter Spotlight on the EverPurse which was a purse with a phone charger in it. I was very impressed with this idea and I have passed over similar KickStarter projects recently, but today I found one that goes miles beyond the EverPurse and is truly deserving of its own post. The project that I have been raving about is called Phorce, and it is billed as the world’s first smart bag. They aren’t just blowing smoke by saying that it is a smart bag, this bag has built in Bluetooth which allows it to communicate with any smartphone or laptop through a handy app. Of course, just like other similar bags it has a built in battery that allows for easy charging of a MacBook or any smartphone or tablet. The app allows the user to not only check the battery status of the bag, but also it will send push notifications if the bag leaves Bluetooth range.

Flexibility is one of Phorce’s biggest assets and my favorite feature of the bag is that it can be easily switched from a briefcase to a messenger bag to a full on backpack. I love this feature because it really makes Phorce one of the most accessible charging bags out there. The ability to switch between these different functions allows the Phorce to be utilized all day and for any job. Adding further flexibility is the fact that there are two separate versions of Phorce: one that simply includes 3 USB ports for phones and tablets, and the other that has a built-in MacBook charging connector. Also impressive is the battery power which has enough life to power a MacBook Pro for over 7 hours or to fully charge 3 iPhones at once.

The Phorce would have to be pretty ugly to keep me from buying this bag and luckily for all of us nobody will have to make that decision because the Phorce is gorgeous. Made of high quality fabric the bag looks fantastic and, at least from initial looks, seems incredibly well constructed. As an added bonus the clever wire manager makes sure that everything is accessible yet organized. While the price is steep at around $200 for the USB version and $300 for the MacBook model; from what I see now the Phorce seems to be completely worth it and a must have for any urbanite who is constantly on the go. Of course, like all KickStarter projects it cannot become available unless it receives the necessary funding; so get out there and help make the Phorce a reality.

British Scientist Puts Solar Cells Behind an OLED Screen; Are Our Battery Woes Soon to be Over?

British Scientist Puts Solar Cells Behind an OLED Screen; Are Our Battery Woes Soon to be Over?

Jan 20, 2012

A British scientist may have figured out just how to cure our pesky battery woes. Or, at least it’s a start. See, he figured out how to put solar energy cells behind an OLED screen in a way that utilizes the space taken by wasted light of these screens. So, the cells in these spaces are instead taking in new energy from the sun, which can be used to power the phone. It’s literally brilliant. With future optimization, it could be something that would potentially be able to supply most of the power for a phone, just from the sun. Of course, there is the whole issue of actually seeing the screens in the sun! Also, it’s ironic that a British researcher came up with it – isn’t it perpetually cloudy there? I mean, when I was hanging out with friends from England at San Diego Comic-Con, they were complaining about the heat, which was about 80 degrees – that’s cold to me! It’s ridiculous. No wonder we rebelled. Maybe if this technology becomes widespread in the future of the phones, we’ll be cool again…

Also, for those of us who spend a lot of time inside, producing fine content for our wonderful and sexy readers, sunlight charging doesn’t really do much.

Source: ExtremeTech