Wires are messy and ugly. When it’s time to charge something you own, and that time is every 2 or 3 days, you have to find an outlet, find the AC adapter, and then place that expensive item on some (precarious) surface for several hours.
During that time, many things can and often will happen: a beloved family member may stupidly trip over the wire, ruining the gadget, the adapter, or the wall outlet. If the device in question is a phone, its vibrating ringer might go off, whereupon it will do a small dance as it tries to heave itself off whatever ledge you’ve left it on, in hopes of cracking or breaking some part of its expensive display. Or someone might just sit on it. I charge things and leave them on chairs far too often.
None of this is very elegant or consistent or enjoyable, you can never find the right adapter when you need it, and the wires collect dust and hair if you leave them in one place for too long, or are lazy about cleaning.
This litany of factors has contributed to a convenient and somewhat obligatory new invention–the charging station. Several of these products are either on the market right now, in various stages of prototyping, or have been done by resourceful DIYers. Let’s take a look at ten fine contenders.
This isn’t really a charging station at all, but rather a device meant to eliminate all your AC adapters. How’s that for organization? You can just box up all those stupid wires and shove them in the garage, because you’ve got this magic miracle of electricity doing everything for you. Their slogan is “one charger. one outlet. infinite possibilities.” Yeah sure it’s a little grandiose, but hey, this thing might just live up to its life-changing slogan’s promise.
From their site: “Chargepod is a 6-way charging device that allows you to charge multiple cell phones, PDAs, headsets, and most other mobile electronics with a single power cord. Just pick out the manufacturer-specific adapters for your devices and throw away the dozens of power cords and wall warts that are cluttering your office and home. Chargepod uses voltage regulator technology and interchangeable power adapters to safely charge all of your mobile devices regardless of manufacturer or model.”
This one (he did two, actually) is seriously perfect. This should be a product. Our man Ryan knows all about the aesthetic torture of ugly cables and various charging devices lying around. Here he takes his fondnessfor organization and sticks it in a vintage case. From his quality writeup: “I wanted a solution that would mesh well with my living room while keeping the functionality of the other stations. Something that was cheap but didn’t look it. Something that was easy to use and eventually modify down the inevitable upgrade road.”
This one is basically just a box that conceals a power bar/power strip, but it’s elegant, and it holds your iPhone, iPod, camera, or regular phone pretty well. From their site: “It has three built-in, roomy slots to hold your cell phone, PDA, mp3 player or camera. The sliding front door allows you to conceal a 10″ power strip (not included) and all the devices’ charging cords in one area. The charging station looks great on any desk or you can also mount it on the wall (dry wall screws included).”
Here’s an elegant, minimal solution from Sweden, which also functions as an OK bench. Doesn’t seem to be on the market–just a design, for now. From the site: “The charge station Powerwise lowers energy consumption, reduces standby times and diminishes the risk of fires. It also keeps all your chargers in one place and frees your walls and floors from untidy and unsightly tangled cords and plastic gadgets. Collaboration with Åsa Elmstam, 2008″
Just for your mobile phone, but great. Minimal and useful. I’m sure IKEA is going to start selling something like this soon. I hope so, since this item no longer seems available from the Chiasso website I originally found it on.
Their writeup: “Here’s an innovative and attractive way to keep your mobile phone charged and ready for action. This modern design features a single piece of stainless steel that curves into a sleek cradle. It has a large hole at the top. Simply plug your mobile’s charger into the wall outlet, through the rubber-lined hole and wrap the cord around the attached pegs, on the bottom of the cradle. Keep the charger plugged in to hold the station in place and provide a home for your phone. Works with horizontal and vertical outlets and just about any mobile phone and charger. Stainless steel with rubber. Please note, rubber ring around opening should not be removed for your protection.”
This one is extremely simple, but works perfectly. Stick a power bar (not sure if it’s included) and your various adapters inside, and whatever you’re charging sits on top. From the manufacturer: “This discreet yet stylish container hides all your unsightly chargers and cords, simplifying your space—and your life. With all of your electronic devices stored in one place you’ll never have to panic about finding them again, or about untangling a web of nasty cords.”
That name would probably have to change if this ever gets launched as a product, but it’s nice nonetheless, although it doesn’t have any sort of fancy storage for the items you’re charging. But whatever. Drocko says: “I had a beat up night stand that I wasn’t using. It would just sit there and collect dust. With a little bit of work and some new paint I turned it into a night stand that is also a lamp and a charging station for my portable devices!”
Pretty straight forward, this one. “I decided to use a nightstand I had in my house for a lifehacker-style landing strip / charging station. The results are great.”
This one’s a little more country kitchen, but hey, everyone has things that need charging, even people with fancy Pottery Barn kitchens where this might fit in. From the website: “Enhance your home with the modern ease of technology without sacrificing the tradition of comfort and style. Each piece in our Bedford Smart Collection has a dual purpose – Smart Technology seamlessly connects you to high-tech accessories by keeping electronics and cords discreet while also organizing and holding household items.”
Not the most beautiful thing in the world, but it costs only 11 euro and doesn’t take very long to do, provided you’re comfortable with some basic wiring. Plus he’s got a fundamental energy-saving difference: “One major difference I wanted for my charging station: the ability to turn off each power supply individually instead of having all on while charging a single device.”
Did we miss any notable ones? Don’t care about charging stations and would rather risk the fire hazard and live with 15 adapters jutting out of a power bar at every which angle? Let us know in the comments!