Problem: too many electronics to charge and not enough outlets. The problem isn’t that no one has enough outlets, but that nobody wants to charge their devices around the house. We all want one home for everything, to keep our lives simple and not cluttered. AViiQ’s Portable Charger is one solution that does exactly that and makes it travel ready.

I tested the Portable Charger over a long period and for a handful of trips, and it’s a great bundle. Including a specially-made case to charge four devices with USB cables and the case itself, the Portable Charger is a simple bag for carrying and unfolds into a charging center in seconds, if organized properly. It charges devices that use USB connectors, like phones, tablets, and cameras, though users must supply their own cables. Three of the four charging ports take power from the power cable via outlet, while the fourth is a USB pass-through for data connections.

The way it works is simple: get three or four USB power cables, tie them into place using the velcro pockets, and plug them into the base unit. After that just plug your phone or media player in and done. The bag has a pocket large enough to carry a phone or two, and the USB pass-through uses a separate built-in USB cable to connect to a laptop.

There are two issues with the Portable Charger. First, if multiple devices are charged simultaneously (like, say, a game console, phone, and camera), they’ll each charge slower than if plugged in with a dedicated wall charger. The more powerful the wall charger required, the slower recharging will be. Charging a tablet, for instance, takes longer because the AViiQ doesn’t pump energy into it like the iPad’s 10W charger. However, for most individual devices (save for tablets, which are use much denser batteries) charging is just as fast as the chargers included with the phone or whatever the device is.

The bigger issue is the pass-through port, or rather the USB cable meant for it. It’s ridiculously short, too short to extend away from the AViiQ’s case. At just a few inches long, it doesn’t extend far enough to be useful unless you have a laptop sitting on top of the Station. I had a fix to this using a USB male to female cable, but the built-in USB cable should be extendable. That major inconvenience made it worthwhile to only charge three devices at once, and plug whatever I had to into my computer separately when needed.

The Charging Station closed, beside the recently reviewed myTouch, for a size comparison

How cables are organized also left much to be desired. It’s up to the user to wrap the cables and put them in place, securing them in the bag and velcro pockets. It’s not quite as desirable as the pictures advertised show. I would have liked to see more ingenuity, perhaps sticky coating or built-in wires with replaceable heads for different units. As it is, the Charging Station is disorganized before cables are properly set, and anytime you need to take one out or switch a cable. There isn’t anything to make setting cables up easier, and for the asking price, there really should be.

At $75, the AViiQ Portable Charging Station is a product that solves the problem of charging multiple devices, but creates a problem of it’s own. It’s ideal for charging gadgets overnight, at home or on the road, and is well suited for travel. The 3+1 USB design is smart, but the USB throughport cable isn’t long enough to make the fourth port accessible. For the price, I’d expect a little more from the cabling system than just velcro-sealed pockets to hold hand-wrapped cables. For people who use the same devices daily and don’t mix and match them, and who have or are willing to get extra cables specifically for charging, the Portable Charging Station is an excellent charging option, one that I recommend.

Editor’s Rating:

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Good

Bottom Line: A solid and worthwhile travel and home charging kit, so long as you don’t have to switch cables in and out constantly, and don’t need to charge more than three gadgets. Best for charging things overnight.

Pros:

  • Simple design that’s easy to store and carry for travel
  • The case comes with everything users could need
Cons:
  • USB passthrough cable is too short for realistic use
  • Insertion and removal of cables is a pain
  • Charging multiple devices is slower than their individual chargers



James Pikover

 
Spawned in the horrendous heat of a Los Angeles winter, James was born with an incessant need to press buttons. Whether it was the car radio, doorbells on Halloween or lights, James pushed, pressed and prodded every button. No elevator was left unscathed, no building intercom was left un-rung, and no person he’s known has been left un-annoyed.