I have to admit. I am a little cautious about crowdfunded projects. I might be a tech geek, but I don’t have the funds to fuel my addiction. I’ve been burned on crowdfunded projects before. There are some good ones and there are some bad ones. The thingCHARGER falls into the earlier category. In the interest of fairness, I must say that I did not invest in thingCHARGER. I received product from the company in exchange for my review.
I can’t remember how I first found out about this product, it may have been an ad on Facebook or maybe a mention on a website. I’ve been corresponding with thingCHARGER since January and they sent me a unit for review last week. The unit I have is not a review unit. It is a production unit.
Does your charging station leave a tangle of cables all over? This is what thingCHARGER wishes to take care of. The product is a box consisting of two powered outlets. It is designed to plug directly into an existing electrical wall receptacle. The powered outlets prevent you from losing your outlet to a charger because the thingCHARGER is the charger. On the rear of the thingCHARGER is a storage area. In this storage area, you’ll find a Lightning adapter, for an Apple device, and a micro-USB adapter for basically everything else (USB-C is on the way). You insert the adapter of your choosing into a slot at the top of the thingCHARGER unit. In the case of the micro-USB adapter, you can plug it in either way and it will still work. More on that later.
If you want to change the adapter tip from micro-USB to Lightning or Lightning to micro-USB, you press an ejector button and the adapter pops up and you remove the adapter. Slight problem. The ejector button is on the back of the unit. This means that to access the ejector button and the adapter tip storage area, you must unplug the unit from the wall. I don’t know if changing tips while the thing is plugged in is a good thing, so maybe this is a safety feature.
On the bottom of the unit are two USB plugs. The thingCHARGER does not come with any cables, but you can plug your existing cables into the USB outlet, this would be so that you can plug other devices into your thingCHARGER. It’s also stackable, which I will also talk about later.
Getting into actual use of the thingCHARGER. I opened the box and was encouraged to register the thingCHARGER. If you register the thingCHARGER you will receive a lifetime warranty, a free additional bonus adapter tip (but you pay for shipping), and a chance to win a MacBook, Chromebook, or Microsoft Surface. If you don’t register, you only receive a six-month warranty, no additional adapter tip, and no chance to win a laptop. I wish I could say that registration went smoothly, but it didn’t. Their server was incredibly slow. It even timed out on me once during the registration process.
I inserted the micro-USB adapter and plugged the thingCHARGER into a wall receptacle. As I mentioned above, you can insert the micro-USB adapter facing either way. So, you can have your device either facing the wall or facing you, depending how you inserted the adapter into the thingCHARGER. Use caution when placing your device on the adapter. You should be inserting your charging port onto the thingCHARGER straight down. Do not tilt forward or back. I found the adapter to be very tight. Up until the thingCHARGER I was using a charging dock for my 2014 Moto X. The Moto X slides easily on/off the micro-USB adapter on my charging dock. On the thingCHARGER, you have to be little firm and push the phone down onto the adapter. The adapter is the only thing holding your device. There is absolutely no support for your device. Everything rests completely on the micro-USB adapter. The height of the adapter can be adjusted. The problem is that it can only be adjusted while holding down the “ejector button” which is on the back of the unit. You adjust by holding in the “adjustment/ejector button” and then adjust the height of your adapter. Releasing the button locks the adapter in place.
I strongly suggest that you not use this product for a tablet. I would only go with a phone. A phablet might be too big. I tried my Nexus 10 and ran into a problem. The charging port on the Nexus 10 is off to the side. It is not dead center. When I put the Nexus 10 on the thingCHARGER, it wanted to lean to the side. I didn’t even attempt to leave the Nexus 10 on the thingCHARGER. I do not trust the charging adapter. I am not confident that my phone or tablet will remain firmly in place.
I’ve had a few people on Google+ ask me why use the thingCHARGER when you can get an electrical outlet with USB ports for about $20 and swap it for the conventional outlet in your wall. My answer to that is (1) you (or an electrical savvy friend) has to install it and (2) once it’s installed, then it’s installed, there’s no removing it unless you uninstall it. The thingCHARGER just plugs into your existing wall receptacle and if you want to move it to another location, you just unplug it from location “A” and move it to location “B”.
I mentioned that the thingCHARGER is stackable. If you have another thingCHARGER, you can plug it into an existing thingCHARGER and double or triple up on the number of units in one outlet. thingCHARGER recommends you don’t stack more than three. I recommend no more than two.
Here’s the downside to stacking. If you want to change tips, you must unplug the unit in order to reach the ejection button and the extra tips on the back of the unit. I also found it extremely difficult to separate two stacked thingCHARGERs. You really need to pry to get them apart.
I also found that when plugging something into the receptacles on the thingCHARGER, you must make certain that you have pushed the plug in completely. Otherwise, it will be very loose and the plug may fall out of the receptacle. I should also mention that this product is not Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 certified.
Overall I like the thingCHARGER. I feel that a lot of time was put into it and a lot of thought was put into the product. There is still room for improvements and I hope that there are changes made to future thingCHARGERs. I do not trust my phone on the charging tip. I feel the lack of support of the item sitting on the charging tip could be a potential problem. I am still using the thingCHARGER, but I’m not using my phone on the charging tip. My wife does have a smaller standard phone and it doesn’t concern me sitting on the tip.
Here are the specs of the thingCHARGER:
- INPUT: On the unit it says “125 V” and the instructions say “120 V AC”, 60Hz, 15A
- OUTPUT: 5V DC, 2.1A
- Class 2 Power Unit
thingCHARGER is $39.90 and available directly from thingCHARGER.com