Mobile devices won’t work without power, yet we often forget to recharge them. That’s why having a dedicated place to reinvigorate all your devices is a sensible way to keep your phone, music player, notebook, tablet, camera and more, well fed while you sleep. After all, don’t digital devices deserve the same regimented park-and-charge as your electric toothbrush?
USB charging stations vary in their number of plug-in ports, but ones that provide multiple USB ports and at least one pass-through AC outlet is a good starting point. More advanced models include one or two universal iPod docks, and perhaps clock-radio functions, too. With any of these products, the payoff is that you don’t have to be near your computer or need to turn it on to charge your devices.
The most basic USB charging station plugs directly into a wall outlet or power strip. These include the Aluratek Mini Surge Dual USB Charging Station with two USB charging ports and three surge-protected outlets. If you want something even simpler, Aluratek offers a single USB charger that plugs into an outlet and can be rotated 270 degrees, and another USB Charging Station that rotates 360 degrees and also includes an AC pass-through outlet. All these Aluratek products have built-in circuit protection and some are good for charging up your digital cameras as well.
The Belkin CNSRV Valet Smart USB Charging Station and Bluelounge Refresh Charging Station (in polar white, jet black or fresh pink) are dedicated stations, each with a power cord, so you could place one atop a desk or nightstand. The Belkin sports a trio of USB inputs on the back, matched to LED indicators on the front. The more versatile Bluelounge is a mobile device charging tray with six built-in connecting cables that can be attached to the dock connectors on two iPods or iPhones, plus four other devices compatible with standard USB sockets (two are included), micro USB and mini USB.
Members of a household with two iPhones or iPods or an iPhone/iPod and an iPad may want to proceed directly to a pair of iSound power docks. The Power View for iPod & iPhone charges two devices at once, and one can be inserted horizontally for viewing video. The Power View for iPod, iPhone & iPad lets you charge your iPad and small-screen sibling simultaneously. In addition to the two docking-station ports, there are two USB ports, so you could charge up to four devices at once. The stand accommodates portrait and landscape positioning. Both iSound models provide overcharge protection.
As its name attests, the iHome iB969 Charging Station for iPad, iPod, iPhone, BlackBerry & eReaders is an extremely accommodating power station for a variety of handheld devices. Though neither of the side-by-side universal iPod/iPhone docks can directly accept an iPad, a 36-inch long iPad/iPhone/iPod sync cable is included for plugging into one of the iB969’s USB ports. Still, the built-in iPad stand securely holds the iPad horizontally or vertically. Up to four devices can be charged simultaneously.
Did you say you’d like sound with that charger? The Pyle Pro iPod/iPod Touch/iPhone Multi-Source Charging Clock FM Radio is a power station that strays into wake-up-and-smell-the-coffee territory. (No, it doesn’t brew, too.) Besides a top-mounted dock for playing and charging your iPod or iPhone, the Pyle Pro lets you charge two other devices through the USB and DC jacks (the latter is meant for Nokia phone use) and listen to one of them through the auxiliary line-in jack. Or you can tune in the FM radio with 30 station presets. Want to sleep a bit longer? The front-facing Touch Snooze plate enables nine minutes more of shut-eye. A micro remote is included.