Last year I reviewed the U-Socket by Fastmac. A year later RCA is here with something similar. If you're like me you have more and more gadgets and mobile devices that charge via USB. With each new device you either get a new USB charger and/or USB cable. While you can usually use any of these chargers to charge any of your devices, it's nice having a "built-in" USB charger whenever possible. This way you can pack your favorite USB charger in your luggage/computer bag and just leave it there for travel.
What's the USB Wall Plate Charger
The concept is simple. You plug this wall plate charger into any existing outlet and you get an AC plug plus two USB charging ports. The bottom one is higher powered 1.2 AMP for charging tablets such as the iPad.
What are the Pros?
- Easy to install – just plug it in
- Gives you two USB ports (one high powered one)
- Still lets you plug in a standard AC plug even with a power brick without blocking the ports
What are the Cons?
- You lose an AC plug (you go from 2 to 1)
- It sticks out about an inch
- You only get one higher powered USB port to charge things like tablets, instead of two
How is this better or different than the U-Socket?
The U-Socket (pictured above) is more of a permanent install. You or your electrician (please use an electrician if you don't know what you're doing) replaces your existing wall plug with a U-Socket and you get the two AC plugs plus two high speed USB charging ports. Therefore the RCA Wall Plate Charger is only better in that you can just plug it in and remove it whenever you want. You can also take it with you on a trip and use it in places like hotels or vacation homes.
The Bottom Line
I still prefer the U-Socket over the RCA Wall Charger. However, for something quick and easy it's hard to beat the RCA Wall Charger for its simple "plug-it-in" approach. I wish that it either didn't stick out so far or if it's going to stick out an inch then it might as well have the USB ports on the side. Also not sure why you have to give up an AC plug. Seems like at a minimum they could have done a pass-through to the existing one (I don't have an electrical engineering degree, so I'm not sure what's possible). I would recommend the RCA Wall Charger for anyone that needs an easy or temporary USB charging solution. It's available in either white or almond here for about $15.
Lastly if you're going to have something that sticks out about an inch, then you might consider this alternative one.