Charging USB devices at home is no big deal as I have charges around the studio, office, bedroom, etc. and even USB wall plates. However, on the road it’s bit more challenging as there are limited AC outlets in hotels and on stage during presentations. Once again I sought out a USB charger that could not only charge multiple devices, but also charge at least 2 iPads, which require a little more juice (2.1A). My search led me to the Anker® 25W 5-Port Family-Sized Desktop USB Charger Travel Power Adapter. This relatively small charger can handle charging up to 5 of your USB devices including 2 iPads at full speed. While I don’t travel with 2 iPads, I do want to be able to charge one iPad and my iPhone at the faster 2.1A speed as well as 2-3 other devices at the same time. If you’re an Android user you’ll even have a dedicated Samsung Tab port as well. Even if you don’t have the specific devices labeled on each port you can charge ANY 5 USB devices at the same time. Speaking of labeled ports that’s another thing I love about this charger. Many of the smaller chargers that have only 2 ports with one of them being high speed don’t always label which one in particular is the high speed one. Lastly another reason I really like this model over previous multiple port chargers that I’ve used is that it has a regular detachable AC cord on the other end with a decent length of 5 feet. This means that I can plug in the one cord into a power strip on stage or outlet behind a night stand and put the charger itself on the table top to connect all the cords too. I used it in LA this week at my event and it worked perfectly and to my surprise it also didn’t get warm to the touch like other charger tend to do.
As a frequent traveler with gadgets I’m always looking for opportunities to charge up. Anytime that I have more than a 15-minute wait in one spot I check my surroundings to see what power options are nearby. If nothing is around then I don’t worry about it, but if there’s an opportunity to juice up I’ll usually take it. I fly Delta 99% of the time and Delta has been doing a good job in equipping their gate areas with not only standard AC power, but also USB power. This means that you can easily just plug in your phone or tablet without having to plug in a power adapter/brick. This leaves the regular outlets for those that need to charge up other devices such as laptops.
While regular power outlets and USB powered outlets are a welcome sight in the gate area, I do wish that airlines and the rest of the transportation industry would move faster towards having power available at every seat on planes, trains, etc. Delta was one of the first if not the first to equip most of their entire fleet with WiFi! Yay! Gogo WiFi is great. However, it’s only as good as having enough juice to actually use it. Since I’m a top tier flyer on Delta (Diamond Medallion), I get upgraded a lot and more often than not there is power at the seats in First/Business Class. This is great, but it shouldn’t be limited to just one part of the cabin. What happens if I don’t get upgraded and I have a lot of work to do? Also even when I do have the benefit of having power at my seat, it doesn’t always work. It’s really hit or miss if the outlet will actually function and power my MacBook Pro.
Some hotels are starting to get the point. One of the fanciest hotels I’ve ever stayed in from a technology standpoint was the Aria Hotel in Las Vegas. However, it was one of the worst in terms of power! The only available outlet during my stay was at the desk across the room. Want to charge your phone next to to bed? Sorry. Yet, recently I stayed in a Hampton Inn in the middle of nowhere and they not only had multiple outlets on the nightstand, but it also was equipped with USB ports to boot.
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.
I'm always on the look out for ways to reduce the number of chargers I travel with and while I have found some great 4 Port USB Chargers in the past the one thing they all seem to lack is the 5V 2 AMP (10W) power requirement for the iPad. Granted the iPad will still charge on the lesser current, but it will take longer. Recently I found a dual USB charger that has one port that operates at the higher voltage. The other USB port is a standard 5V 1 Amp port for your other USB devices such as your cellphone. This is GREAT! This means that I can charge my iPad 2 at full speed and still have a port to charge my phone. The other requirement I have is that any charger I buy has to also work on the higher powered International plugs and this one does (with an appropriate wall plug adapter).
I have replaced my standard iPad white chargers with these for on the road. Yes it comes with a sync cable too. The only annoyance is the bright blue LED that lets you know it's plugged in. You know how I feel about LEDs 🙂