It’s true that we can’t leave home without our myriad of chargers and gadgets, loosely stuffed into any available backpack pocket and bundled with the endless length of cords required to recharge such devices. Every charger, every USB cable, and every associated gadget can take up an amazing amount of space, and while I’m careful not to lose anything, keeping track of everything you bring with you becomes a drag. And if those Cables get entangled together? Game over.
Instead of taking four different individual chargers for our iPads, iPods, and Bluetooth headsets, what if we reduced that to one item that could contain all of our cables and smaller gizmos that we don’t need immediate access to? Wouldn’t it be nice if we could unfold a mat and have all of our cables neatly presented for immediate charging? Past the break, we’re taking a look at something as convenient, and we advise everyone that this could possibly be on your holiday wish-list by the time you’re done reading this review.
It really is a portable charging station.
AViiQ’s offbeat mobile travel pouch is the cable organizer meets lunch bag you didn’t know you needed until you use it. The case, which houses plenty of pockets, a USB hub, a wall charger, and a syncing USB cable, zips up and works with all of the USB cables you already have. Simply organize the cables you need into the various velcro pouches, keep a gadget or two in the mesh pocket, and tuck any additional accessories you need elsewhere. Connecting the USB cables to the hub, you can simply unzip, unfold, and plug in the Portable Charging Station to the nearest wall outlet to get power to your energy-starved devices. With the included sync cable, you can also connect the Hub to your computer so you can sync your smartphone to your Mac or PC. Super convenient? Totally!
The lightweight 7.05 oz nylon bag, about ten inches tall and ten inches inches wide when opened (one and a half inches thick when closed), fits comfortably into any backpack or messenger bag and protects your precious metals from getting lost or tied up with other items (like pens, battery chargers, and spiral-bound notepads). The Portable Charging Station comes branded with AViiQ’s signature pink logo on a small tag on the front of the case, and includes an interesting handle along the spine that I haven’t used, but that others may find convenient. The nylon ripstop case feels strong, durable, and should repel some liquids if caught in the rain for example.
The inside of the case is divided by the spine into two halves. One half houses all of the parts needed to charge your gadgets, such as the charging hub, the wall charger, and your USB cables, while the other half can house additional cables or small gadgets like an iPod nano. Pockets aplenty, you’re given a lot of options for organizing and tucking items aways as you wish. Even if you don’t use all of them, when unfolded the Portable Charging Station makes for a nice mat to rest your small gadgets on.
Pockets are nice, but all of the magic happens with the AC adapter and the provided USB hub, however. Much like your MacBook’s brick charger, the wall charger for the Portable Charging Station is a black brick whose cable wraps around “bookends” to keep things nice and tidy. When it comes time to charge all of your gadgets, you simply remove the wall charger, uncoil the cord, and plug the end into the USB hub. You’ve got around four feet of cord to work with, and the 15 W AC adapter provides plenty of power for all of your gadgets. You can charge two iPads and an iPhone if you wanted.
Where the charging component breaks down is with the USB hub. While there are four ports, one port is exclusively used as a data connection to your computer. That means only three of the ports can suck down power from the wall. Despite having one less port to work with, the one outlet to three gadget ratio is still pretty fair in my book, although we would love to see all four ports utilized in a future update.
Concerning the power adapter and the USB hub, they unfortunately happen to be the cheapest feeling components of the entire kit. While the AC adapter and hub work, the cheap plastic and bright white LED light just don’t look professional in comparison to AViiQ’s other products. A retractable USB cable at the back of the USB hub is short, thin, and flimsy. It’s my least favorite attachment in the Portable Charging Station, and I’m afraid the syncing USB cable is going to break with every tug. I would like to see a separate USB cable take the place of the retractable one, even if I had to wind it around the hub as with the power brick.
AViiQ’s pink highlights on their USB hub and velcro pockets designate where you should connect your data connecting USB cable, with the remaining velcro pockets being used for everything else. The velcro pockets, while a nice touch, don’t quite seem deep enough to contain Apple’s thick USB cables. With all four velcro pockets stuff with coiled up cables, it does make quite a bulge in the case, reducing the amount of space you have to store extra gadgetry. The frontmost pockets also seem a little too close to the charging hub, so if you’re worried about your cable ends fraying you may want to leave them disconnected from the hub during travel until you’re ready for a charge.
It’s tough to fit all that stuff into a case while leaving room for more, but AViiQ has pulled it off pretty well in their first offering of the Portable Charging Station. Replacing your three or four wall chargers with a single bag that can contain additional loose gizmos (that could otherwise get ruined in your bag), it’s a sleek solution to the common problem of carrying too much unnecessary stuff. While the AC adapter and USB hubs themselves feel cheap, they get the job done and provide a central station where you can easily charge your gadgets without looking for three or four outlets in the process. Next to your computer at the hotel table, you’ll never have to yank out cords, manage cables, or unnecessarily go searching for something that might not even be in your bag. As long as you remember to take AViiQ’s Portable Charging Station with you on vacation or your latest business trip, you can rest assured everything you need will be available in one place.