If you’re anything like me, you’ve got several different devices lying around that charge via USB. If you live with other people—like in a family—that number could easily reach a dozen (or perhaps 100). We are not necessarily even talking super-fancy stuff here – the number of items that charge via USB cable (regular, mini, or micro) is astounding and it can make outlets hard to come by.
The clutter of all these chargers and devices is a problem for which I am constantly on the search for a solution. There are, of course, multiple options, but I have yet to find the right one.
Enter Easy-Doks and their line of “Multi-USB Port Smart Device Charging Products.” The notion is simple – the docks are stands inside of which there is a USB hub (or two). You plug your USB cord into the hub, pull the cord out the top or the side of the stand, and either sit your device on the stand or lay it down next to it.
Yes, it is simple, but it is also inelegant. For every advantage of the Easy-Dok, there are two or three disadvantages, and they’re disadvantages that stick out like a sore thumb (or frayed cable).
Not to ruin the suspense of the review, but Easy-Doks are not the right solution to our charging horrors. In terms of the above description of how Easy-Doks are meant to be used, the first issue is clear and impossible to correct: once those cords are in the hub, they’re in, and woe is you if you want to unplug a cord from the station and plug it into your computer. Attempting to do this requires opening the dock, unwrapping several cords, and destroying any semblance or order around the USB hub.
Backing up for a minute, the docking station is a plastic box (see picture) inside of which is a USB hub—one with the ability to not over-charge your device—and it requires you to have your own USB cord for whatever you want to charge. Then, because you have to snake your cord through the docking station and out a hole, things get tangled rather quickly (even if you’re not trying to remove a cord). Easy-Doks, at least the six-port CR34 we checked out, allow you to wrap your cord around the hub to keep it untangled, but with two three-port hubs, that would mean wrapping three cords around each hub, and the hubs are nowhere near large enough to make that a sensible proposition.
The six port Easy-Dok has a stand large enough to hold three charging items on top of it – two small (phone-sized) and one large (tablet-sized). Items placed onto the stands don’t sit securely, they perch uneasily. Beyond that, when a device is detached from its cord, said cord either sticks out, in ugly fashion, above the stand or sinks back into the depths of the docking station itself and neither of those is good.
This larger, six-port docking station also contains a clock, radio, and internal speakers. The latter are perfectly acceptable and can be used in conjunction with a tablet/phone (using the device’s headphone jack). The clock is a “dimmable” LED clock with three brightness settings which are best described as virtually impossible to read its so dim, ridiculously bright, and insanely bright. These last two settings are fine for daytime use, but if the docking station sits on your nightstand, it may be far too bright for you (it certainly is for us) while the virtually impossible to read setting is… impossible to read at night.
The end result of all this is not a nightmare but rather a disappointing attempt at a solution. And, we haven’t even discussed the cheap-feeling plastic similar overall aesthetic of the CR34.
With Easy-Dok, the attempt may be admirable—the ability to charge all your stuff in one place and a one time is something of a holy grail—but the execution leaves something to be desired. The $99.99 price tag for the CR34 also means that it isn’t even an inexpensive solution.
And so, our search for the right way to charge the myriad of devices we have will continue into 2013.