I’ve been using one of those inexpensive, black plastic charging stations on my bedside table for recharging my phone, iPod touch, and my Sony reader. Those stations are nice because they only need one outlet, but it takes up a lot of room on my table. I like the idea of those charging mats, but they don’t seem to work with all my electronics. I’d also like something compact and easily packable – something I could easily use at home and just throw into my gear bag when I travel without adding bulk and weight to my overstuffed Tom Bihn bag. I found what seemed to be the charging system of my dreams recently when I was surfing to find interesting items for Gadgeteer news posts. Charge4All makes a series of charging stations that consists of a thin, tube-shaped charger with four outlets to connect adapters used by your various gadgets. It certainly seems compact, but is the Charge4All system what I’ve been looking for?
Charge4All offers three systems, any of which certainly classifies as compact. I decided I’d just buy the simplest system consisting of the charging tube, its power adapter, and a set of five charging cables. The Charge4All systems are all supplied with the following cables: Apple iPod/iPhone connector, mini USB, micro USB, LG Chocolate, and Samsung SCH. I have no use for the last two in the list, but I need all three of the others for various devices I use. Charge4All offers a total of 29 charging cables (including the five already listed) you can purchase separately, each about $5.00. Each cable works for a multitude of devices, so you should be able to find a cable for any hand-held device you own. Luckily, they offer a Sony PSP cable; it also works for the Sony ebook readers. I added a PSP cable to the cart, too.
The Charge4All is designed to charge small electronics only. You can charge cell phones, mp3 players, digital cameras, and other hand-held devices. You cannot charge laptops or other high-current devices. There are four ports on the charging tube, and you can charge four devices at once. Charge4All says using a single power outlet to simultaneously charge multiple devices is very efficient, saving up to 75% of the energy used to charge them separately.
I connected four of the cables (all except the LG Chocolate and the Samsung SCH cables) to the charging tube. I arranged the cables so that half my devices would be on each side of the tube – no scratching of screens this way. A rubber bar along the length of the charging tube keeps it from rolling. There is a lighted power button on one end of the charging tube. I hooked up my phone, my Sony reader, and my iPod touch, punched on the power button for the charging tube, and hoped for the best.
I was startled to see that my phone flashed a “this cable is not recommended for this phone” message. The LG env3 phone is supplied with a powered micro USB charging cable, and the message quickly disappeared, so I decided to be brave and continue charging the phone.
All my devices charged with the charging tube in about the same time they normally take to charge using their own charging cables. Luckily, my phone didn’t seem to suffer any ill effects from charging with the Charge4All charging tube. I did send a question asking about the safety of the micro USB cable with my phone using their customer contact page. It’s been at least a week, but I’ve had no reply from the people at Charge4All.
The Charge4All charging tube takes up much less room on my night table than my old charging station did, and it seems to work well with my devices. I put a Strapeez velcro strap around the middle of the charging tube to keep all my charging cables at hand for travelling. The charging tube, its power adapter, and a few small cables will certainly fit better in my Tom Bihn bag than a bunch of individual chargers. It seems like a good investment for only about $25. (Charge4All has a 2-pack of charging tubes for about $40. The Sony PSP cable was an additional $5.)