MasterSpace Charwego 45W international travel adapter review

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REVIEW – I seem to be posting a lot lately about travel, or more correctly, the lack of travel, and the gadgets I hope to use someday when I can travel again.  In keeping with that theme, I present the MasterSpace Charwego 45W travel power adapter. Charwego is much more than just a travel plug adapter.  With the ability to put out full charge power simultaneously for up to five USB devices and one AC device, it might just become your favorite home charger as well.

A little background – MasterSpace is a design company located in Hong Kong.  Their first Kickstarter project was Pacum, a portable, USB-powered vacuum device for vacuum packing bags and sous vide vacuum bags. It was a wild success and is now a shipping product.  Let’s see if Charwego has the good to become their second success.

What is it?

Charwego is a six-device travel adapter that can provide access to power outlets in over 200 countries.  It is not a voltage converter.  The voltage going in equals the voltage going out, at least at the AC port. What it does do is convert the style of plug for your country to the style for just about whatever country you visit. Unlink most travel adapters, Charwego can handle high-wattage appliances like hairdryers, curling irons, or electric kettles.

What’s in the box?

Since this is a Kickstarter campaign that won’t be shipping until April 2021, I was sent a pre-production unit in non-standard packaging.  Charwego is a standalone device. It will ship with instructions.

Hardware specs

  • Dimensions: 75mm (h) x 48mm (w) x 58mm (d)
  • Weight: 176g
  • Outputs:
    • USB-A (x4): 5V/2.4A, 12W max
    • USB-C (z1): 5V/3A, 9V/2A, 12V/3A, 15V/3A, 20V/2.2A – 45W max
    • AC (x1): 800W at 100V, 2000W at 250V – 8A max
  • Input: 100VAC-250VAC
  • Plug types supported: Type A through Type M
  • Fuse type: Automatically resetting
  • Colors: Black and blue (inspired by the original iMacG3 blue)

Design and features

Charwego is relatively small for what it does. It is a little over twice the size of a typical USB charger.  The whole thing is covered in high-impact plastic in a combination of matte and glossy bits.

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The front houses the receptacle array where you can plug in your AC plug device. The design of the holes allows you to plug in a multitude of different plug styles.

Here’s a look with a typical US three-prong plug inserted into Charwego.

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The right side has some design glossy highlights and a big round button. Pressing that button allows you to slide the various plugs in and out.

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The four plug slides are all on the left side of the Charwego.

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Each slide is embossed with the plug style it will expose – AUS (Australia), US (United States), UK (United Kingdom), and EU (European Union).

The back of Charwego is where the various plug styles pop out. It also contains all the typical technical information and warnings.

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Let’s take a look at each plug type.

Australia

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United States

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United Kingdom

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European Union

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From the project website, here’s a description of each plug type and where it can be used:

TYPE A & B (US Standard)
United States of America, American Samoa, Anguilla, Bahamas, Bangla­desh, Bolivia, Brazil, Cambodia, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Domin­ican Republic, Ecuador, EI Salvador, Guam, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Japan, Laos, Lebanon, Li­beria, Mexico, Niger, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Saudi Arabia, Tahiti, Taiwan, Thailand, Venezuela, Vietnam, etc.

TYPE I (Australia Standard)
Australia, New Zealand, American Samoa, Argentina, Cook Islands, East Timor, Fiji, Guatemala, Kiribati, Na­uru, Papua New Guinea, St. Vincent, Samoa, Tajikistan, Tonga, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, etc.

TYPE G (UK Standard)
UK, Bahrain, Belize, Botswana, Brunei, Cyprus, Dominica, Ghana, Gibraltar, Grenada, Hong Kong, Iraq, Ireland, Kenya, Macau, Malta, Malaysia, Nige­ria, Northern Ireland, Oman, Qatar, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, Saudi Ara­bia, Scotland, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Uganda, the United Arab Emirates, Wales, Yemen, Zimbabwe, etc.

TYPE C (Europe Standard)
Type C plug-ins also work with type E, F, J, K, L, and N outlets
German, Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cro­atia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, India, Lat­via, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mace­donia, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, etc.

The top of Charwego holds the five USB ports.

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They are spaced out enough that you can easily use all five simultaneously.

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When Charwego is plugged in, a small blue LED illuminates just above the MasterSpace logo.

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Performance

The first thing I tried was charging my Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra. I plugged in a USB-C to USB-C cable and was fast-charging as expected.  Then I plugged a USB-A to USB-C cable into Charwego and my phone.  I was charging, but not fast-charging.  So, at least for Samsung, fast charging is only possible via the USB-C port.

Plugging the USB-C to USB-C cable into Charwego let me successfully charge my Microsoft Surface Book 2 and my wife’s Lenovo Yoga laptop.  Only the USB-C power on Charwego supports charging devices like these.

I should note that the plug slides are a little finicky.  Multiple times, I pushed the release button and slid out the US plug until the button snapped in place, indicating that the plug was locked out for use.  When I pushed the plug into the wall socket, the prongs slid back into Charwego.  I thought that perhaps I just wasn’t sliding it out enough, but after multiple tests, it is just not reliable. I found myself sliding the plug out until the button snapped in place, and then pushing on the plug to be sure it was locked in place.  Most times, I had to push it out again and again until it finally locked in place.  I’m hoping that this is because this was an early build and not a production build.  the socket was also a little tight, making fully plugging a power cord into Charwego a little challenging.

I was able to run just about anything by plugging it into Charwego, including my wife’s hairdryer.

What I like

  • Compact for what it does
  • Comprehensive set up plugs and sockets
  • Charges up to six devices simultaneously
  • Can handle high-power devices

What I’d change

  • Enable Samsung fast-charging via the USB-A ports
  • Make the plug slide engagement a little more positive and lock more securely
  • It was a little difficult to plug in a 110V plug into Charwegeo – I expect that will loosen some with use

Final thoughts

I like this little adapter.  Again, to be clear, this isn’t a voltage converter.  If you put it into a 240V socket, the socket on the Charwego will put out 240V.  It adapts plug styles so that you can plug something with one style of plug into a different style socket. Many newer electronics are certified for use on 110V to 240V, so you only need to be able to plug it in to charge – no conversion needed. Also, it adds five USB ports to the mix, all in a very easily packable package.  I was able to charge both our cell phones and a couple of portable battery packs all at the same time from a single outlet, all while charging my laptop, either via USB-C or my laptop’s power brick.  Nice!  This will be a permanent addition to my travel kit.

Price: Rewards start at about $34 – pledges are based on Hong Kong dollars with deliveries to backers targeted for April 2021. They exceeded their funding goal in the first three days of the campaign.
Where to buy: Kickstarter
Source: The sample of this product was provided by MasterSpace.

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