These days, we all have multiple smart devices. Smartphone, tablet, media player, portable game console, wearable…something that plugs in via USB. Some of us share space with roommates and family with their own devices. And keeping all of these devices charged and organized is an under-appreciated problem. The Sanctuary4 is one solution.
The Bluelounge Sanctuary4 is nothing more than a box with a high-power USB hub specifically made to power devices, not connect them to a computer. The box stores your cables to remove clutter and charges up to four devices at once, two with enough power for a tablet, and two for today’s smartphones. The 4amp hub is capable of charging all of these devices simultaneously without any slowdown compared to your traditional USB charger. That also means it’s safe for today’s smart devices; nearly all (with the possible exception of some wearables, which may have lower amperage ratings) charge at 1amp.
The Sanctuary4 itself is unremarkable. It’s a black box with a latch cover that doubles as a tablet stand; a single hole for the tablet charger; and a hidden slit for three other cables to fit through. I’ve been using the Sanctuary4 for awhile now, and it is simple yet highly effective. Until a few short weeks ago I was travelling about with anywhere from 5-7 devices, all of which were at different levels of charge. Typically I’d charge them at the office, where I had multiple docks and individual power connectors set up, or at home with the Sanctuary4. Neither was more convenient, though most of us only charge devices at night…you know, when we’re not using them.
Since then my office moved and my workstation became portable, so I’ve relied much more heavily on the Sanctuary4. Though I have multiple tablets, I rarely need to charge more than one at a time, so having two “high-speed” power sources seems a bit excessive. Most users only ever have one device that needs a quick charge; and even then, the few times we typically charge a tablet is overnight, and with few exceptions, most tablets can charge completely overnight on a standard smartphone charger. Having two high-speed chargers isn’t necessarily overkill – with company it is very convenient to be able to charge someone else’s phone or tablet, and may even provide a solution to the “no phones during dinner” rule in a highly effective way.
However, the general construction of the Sanctuary4 is lacking. Remove the latch and the box inside is a mess of wires, one that cannot be helped due to poor USB port placement and limited space for cabling. Two plastics slabs are built into the inside front of the box to wrap cables around, but both are too small to secure even one standard 3-foot iPhone cable. Even if it were, there are four cables that can fit, but only two places to wrap cables around. This is a highly curious design; I’d imagine that a four-pronged USB hub built into a box, which has four sides and must keep four separate cables wrapped and confined for easy handling and removal, would have four places to wrap cables around and that the hub would point each port in that direction. Meaning each wall of the box has a place to wrap a cable, and a corresponding USB port for each.
Building costs may have stopped such a construction, but I find it puzzling that such an accessory sells for $100 and is so…ineffective on the inside. After it’s all set up, the Sanctuary4 is great. Cables hang out only slightly, enough to reach and not far enough to clumsily be in the way. Remembering which are the high-power cables is easy, with proper setup. Another slight curiosity is the size; it can fit three iPhone’s across, but Android phones are much larger and only two fit on the surface. One for husband and wife, and one for a shared or personal tablet, makes perfect sense. The last? There’s room for a cable, but none for a device except for small wearables like the Withings Pulse. I went to the extreme and used it to charge a Galaxy Note II (an already absurdly large smartphone), an iPhone 5s, an iPad Air, and the NVIDIA Shield. Suffice it to say, nothing would fit with the Shield, and the Shield would not fit with anything else.
For the price I’d expect more from a smart device accessory. The principle is sound – charge multiple devices without clutter – but the implementation is questionable in a number of ways. Still, for an individual or couple, it’s a highly effective and clean way to charge your handhelds.