Lightweight charger that could use some improvements
The week before last I was at CES, I spent my days walking 12,000 steps on the show floor with a backpack full of camera gear. When I would get back to the hotel I needed to recharge that gear so I would plug everything into an Anker USB hub, download the footage to my computer, and try to sleep/recover from that day. The USB hub was a life saver as I used it to charge up all my devices at one time. One issue that I’ve always had with this particular hub is that the USB ports are right next to each other so plugging in devices and filling all six USB ports was a tight fit because some of the cables I used had thick USB-A heads. This is where the iProducts US charging hub comes into play.
iProducts US has the goal of selling unique, top quality products at an affordable price to consumers. Their 6-port USB-A hub is designed to be round like a hockey puck so the USB ports are spaced out more than the average hub. This is wonderful when it comes to accessing each of the ports with big USB heads or thick fingers.
Size: 3.25 x 3.25 x 1.125 inches
Material: ABS and fireproof materials
Weight: 5.5 oz
Input: AC 100-240V 50/60Hz
Total output: 5V/6A (Max)
Color available: White, Black
As you can see in the above photos the head to one of the USB cables needs quite of bit of space between the next port. I think for that reason it’s a nice option when traveling. I personally don’t go anywhere without a bag full of gadgets that need to be charged while I sleep.
The hockey-puck style of this hub is different. It’s very lightweight coming in at only 5.5 ounces and the one-inch spacing between USB ports is very nice. The hub has four plastic nubs on the bottom that don’t really keep the hub from sliding around on a desk surface. Why they did that instead of using rubber to 1) keep the hub from sliding around and 2) to keep it from scratching up your desk, seems like a missed opportunity. The logo “iProducts US” is blasted across the top of the hub in white. I understand the importance of getting their name out there, but I typically prefer less intrusive branding on my devices.
EASE OF USE:
Using the charging hub is pretty simple. When you open the box, you will only find the hub wrapped in a plastic bag and the power cable. There are no instructions included and absolutely nothing else in the box. To get started, you just plug the power cable into the back of the hub and then into a wall outlet. Then, you plug your USB devices into one of the six ports. Four of the ports are USB-A 1A and two are Smart IQ 2.4A. “Smart IQ” means that the charger can auto-detect what type of device is plugged into that port and change the voltage according to that device so that it can draw the maximum possible current from that port.
When it comes to USB hubs, prices seem to vary depending on the style. This one is currently available for $15.99. I checked out a few other hockey-puck style hubs and that seems to be the average price for that particular style. I did end up finding one that was around $60.
To give this USB hub a full range of testing, I plugged in several different devices including a 10.5-inch iPad Pro, iPhone X, Anker 28,600 mAh power bank, and a charging case for my hearing aids. I found that the hub warmed up quite a bit while it was charging those devices. I didn’t measure the heat at that time, but I did note that while my iPad and iPhone charged up to 100%, the Anker battery did not charge at all. Later, I discovered that while the case for my hearing aids collected a charge the hearing aids that were stored inside did not.
As a secondary test, I plugged in two devices at one time — a 12-inch iPad Pro and a power bank by Griffin. The power bank used a 5V/2A for charging. Its capacity is 10,050 mAh. I didn’t perceive any heat from the charging battery, but I did notice the hub once again seemed hot. I ended up measuring the heat with a non-contact infrared thermometer. I took a reading at the port where the battery was charging, the port where the iPad Pro was charging and then in the center where it seemed to be the warmest. These are the readings I got:
- iPad Pro port: 127º F
- Power Bank port: 99.4º F
- Center: 119.3 Fº
Later, after the devices had a chance to charge for a bit longer, I took another reading in the center and got a reading between 127º and 129º. While it could be argued that some heat is negligible, I felt that this was far too warm for a charging hub — especially with only two devices connected. Since there were no instructions or product details included in the box or on the manufacturer’s website, I looked up the products on Amazon and found the following description on the Amazon product page.
Discription for this product, found on Amazon Page.
“Fireproof materials ensure yINPUTour smart phones and electronic devices safe while charging. Smart charging technology protect your multiple devices from over-charging, over-heating and short circuit”
I reached out to the company about the above statement, here is the response I got:
“The ICs monitor if the charger is working correct. The charger will stop working by cutting off the current if something goes wrong including over-heating, over-charging, or short circuitting. So you devices would not be hurt. The fireproof material will not help fire if there is accident happened, some of materials are comburent but ours not. Hope my explaination is clear”
I thought this was a little confusing of an explanation so I asked them to clarify and they did say that the material is rated as ‘fireproof’. That said, I think that users should charge their devices with caution and consider monitoring them often so that the hub doesn’t get too hot.
Another test I ran was intended to check the output voltage/amperage of the hub. The standard ports should have been outputting 5V/1A while the Smart IQ ports were putting out 5V/2.4A. The USB Digital Tester I used is a ‘go-between’ device that you plug into the port you are using then plug your devices into its output port. These are the results I got. The reading I got with the iPad Pro on the 5V/1A port really shows that it needs the higher amperage to charge properly.
12-inch iPad Pro
5V/1A PORT: 5.12V/0.96A
SMART IQ (5V/2.4A) PORT: 5.08V/2.29A
Griffin Power Bank
5V/1A PORT: 5.11V/1.42A
SMART IQ (5V/2.4A) PORT: 5.09V/1.52A
As far as charging hubs go I feel as though this particular one is about average. I really like the design of it and that it allows easy access to all the ports. I don’t like how it heats up and how it didn’t really charge everything well. I do think for $16 it’s a nice option for a travel hub especially since it ships with a power cable. I don’t like that there is very little information provided on this product on the packaging or through their website. I had to visit the Amazon product page to get a valid description of the device. I would rate this 3 out of 5 stars since I have some doubts about it.
For more information, visit iProducts US
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