Often I find that, despite how much I love technology, there are issues with my devices or accessories that impact my daily use. A certain trio of items I use daily suffer from having charging cables that are far too short to be of any use to me. Enter the MPow 4 port USB charging station. It was a solution to a problem which plagues many devices, no matter how well the devices work themselves.
[toggle title=”Cost and Where to Buy” state=”open” ]This charging station will set you back $18.99 as of the time of this writing. It is available at Amazon and comes in both black and white.[/toggle]
[toggle title=”In the Box” state=”close” ]
- MPow 4 port USB charging station
- Power cable
- Instruction manual
[toggle title=”Design Overview” state=”close” ]
This particular charging station varies from the norm. Most of the accessories which change a standard outlet into USB charging stations plug directly into the wall and block the rest of the outlet. Moreover, many of them block or use both of the outlets. This accessory will sit atop your desk and plug directly into the wall via a removable power cable. This method of powering the station leaves the second outlet free for a power strip or anything else you wish to plug in.
The MPow USB charging station features four ports. Two ports are 1 amp and the other two are 2 amps. This allows you to use two low power ports for phones, or in my use, my Pebble smart watch. The others can be used to power tablets or higher power phones (The Galaxy Note line, for example).
[toggle title=”Build Quality” state=”close” ]While the MPow USB charging station is made of plastic, the construction is quite solid. The device itself is quite light, but not shoddy feeling. The external and removable power cord seats nicely into the unit feeling firm. You won’t feel like the cord is going to pull out of the device. The ports are also well done. USB cords feel solid when inserted into the charging station. There is only the slightest bit of wiggle, which is exactly what I like to see. You won’t accidentally remove the USB ports and if you bump one of the charging cords, it doesn’t feel like you’re going to break the ports. I have been using this unit for over a week. My biggest concern in any unit like this is heat generation. In my use, it has never gotten hot. Perhaps only the very slightest bit warm, but never too warm. Not at all anywhere near the heat generated from a smartphone playing any 3D game. This coolness leads me to believe this unit will last for a very long time.
There is an indicator light to show the product is powered mounted on the front of the device. More on this later.[/toggle]
My biggest criticisms of this unit are more nit picks than deal-breakers. There are no rubber feet on the bottom of the charging station. An accidental bump may move the station across your desk or dresser a bit. This is easily rectified for less than $1 at any hardware store by applying your own adhesive rubber feet to the base.
There isn’t any way to mount this unit to a wall or network board. I wouldn’t mind seeing a pair of slots where you could bore some screws into a piece of plywood that holds your networking equipment. In a business environment, this would prove useful to mount the station there to power tablets some techs use for work.
Now the biggest gripe of all: the front mounted power indicator light. There is a blue LED affixed to the front of the unit which shines when the unit is powered. Having a power light is a good thing, I doubt anyone would argue this. The problem is the brightness of the light.
This thing shines with the brightness of a zillion and a half suns. It is blindingly bright (see the gallery). This would have been easily rectified with a piece of electrical tape. As usual, I was fresh out of it and tried to settle for painter’s tape until I could get to the store. One piece of painter’s tape did nothing. Four pieces dimmed it quite a bit which would have been fine, however at this point I wanted to see how many it would take to totally subdue the brightness. Nine pieces later and I was almost there, but also gave up. I did pick up some electrical tape and one piece solved the light entirely. The easiest way to rectify this in later versions would be to put a filter between the LED and the lens which limits the output of the light. This is something I hope to see in later iterations of the product.
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[toggle title=”Conclusion” state=”open” ]The MPow 4 port USB charging station is truly a steal. For under $20 you gain plenty of powerful charging options and negate the short charging cables included with most phones and tablets. I plan on picking up a few more of these units for myself and some friends. If you’re interested in grabbing some, hit the links above to pick your color option.[/toggle]