Not long ago, I was contacted by my friend Neal Jacob about an opportunity to review a nifty looking little gadget called the ThingCHARGER. Of course I said I’d love to, and a couple weeks later, I received the package in the mail.
So what’s the ThingCHARGER? Well, it’s basically an outlet that you plug into an outlet. Except this has two standard plugs on the front, two USB ports on the bottom face, and one modular plug on the top face. It comes with a MicroUSB and an iPhone adapter for that top plug. The video on their homepage shows the old-school iPhone charger, but I didn’t find one with mine.
Unfortunately I only have one unit for review, so I have no pictures to show off the stacking ability. But you can imagine how that would look. You plug one ThingCHARGER into the wall, and another ThingCHARGER into that first ThingCHARGER and voila, you can now charge a bunch more devices all without sacrificing your two standard plugs.
The adapters on top connect to the ThingCHARGER via a round connector, which means you can flip it 180 degrees either way, depending on how the port is oriented on your phone/tablet. It’s important that the charging port on your phone/tablet be in the exact middle of the device, otherwise your device would tip over. This is because the only support for the device while charging is that modular charging connector, so it needs to stay balanced.
The connector height is adjustable, which is nice if you have a case and need a bit of extra height.
One annoying fact that admittedly isn’t the ThingCHARGER’s fault, is that it doesn’t fit into my GFCI outlets. Obviously ThingCHARGER can’t do anything about that. This is the year 2015, and you would think something like that would be standard at this point, but alas. My GFCI outlets are spaced just a bit further apart than my standard outlets. The video on their website looks to be using a GFCI outlet so your results may vary from mine.
I think this thing’s best feature is the USB ports, which are unfortunately placed on the bottom. I don’t much like the adapter on top. Seems too unstable to me, I just don’t trust it. As I mentioned before, there is very little support, and it doesn’t work with my Nexus 10 because the charging port isn’t centered. I believe the iPad is centered so you shouldn’t have a problem there.
One thing you should know, is that the standard plugs on the front are REALLY loose, until that last eighth of an inch or so. I didn’t realize this at first. I had the ThingCHARGER plugged into the outlet next to my bed, and my favorite phone charger with the 5 foot long cord plugged into the ThingCHARGER plug. I woke up the next morning to find a dead phone because the charger had fallen out of the ThingCHARGER. Upon further testing, I found out I just hadn’t plugged it in far enough. This worries me. If there’s that little actually holding on to the prongs, I imagine it won’t take long for the plugs to become so loose that nothing will stay plugged in no matter how far you push it in.
But for now, as long as I push it in far enough, it holds pretty good.
My advice to the makers of ThingCHARGER would be to make it a nice tight squeeze all the way in. I like having to put a little effort into plugging something in, it makes it feel more secure. My guess is they want you to be able to unplug things without the ThingCHARGER itself coming unplugged. But honestly, I’m not too lazy to hold the ThingCHARGER in with one hand while I unplug things.
I would also like to see more support for my device on top, rather than just having the device balancing on the charging port.
All in all, it seems like a neat device, although I would probably just opt for one of those outlets you can buy at Home Depot that have two standard plugs, and two USB ports for about the same price as the ThingCHARGER.
If you trust your device balancing on top, or just don’t like the idea of turning off a breaker, pulling an old outlet out, and putting in a fancy one with USB ports, this thing could be for you.