It's like Compound W for wall-warts
Aside from losing power at the most inopportune times, the biggest downside to battery-powered devices is that they need to be recharged. And no matter the orientation of the sockets in your outlet strip, it’s inevitable that one or several of your device’s wall-wart chargers will wind up blocking at least one socket in addition to the one it’s plugged into. The IDAPT i4 universal charging station does a pretty good job of solving that problem—for a price.
The i4 is a 6.6-inch wide, 5.3-inch deep, 1.3-inch high block of plastic that can accommodate and charge as many as four handheld devices simultaneously. The device draws power from a receptacle using a standard two-prong plug that’s guaranteed to consume only one socket. What's more, you can use any available socket--not just one in your surge-suppressor outlet strip--because the i4 has its own surge suppressor built in.
Since device manufacturers refuse to agree on a common charge/sync interface, the i4 comes with a collection of interchangeable tips suitable for various devices. The tips plug into three sockets in the chassis (the fourth power source is a standard USB interface). The charger comes bundled with either four tips of your choosing or a preset collection of six of the most popular. If you need more than that, you can purchase individual tips separately.
The IDAPT i4 can charge four handheld devices simultaneously.
IDAPT manufactures 20 different tips, including mini- and micro-USB tips, iPod Shuffle tips, iPod/iPad/iPhone tips, four types of Samsung tips, two types of Sony/Ericsson tips, and more. The company also offers a plug-in AA/AAA battery charger (although that costs $6 extra when purchased as one of the four tips bundled with the charger or $20 if purchased separately). The rest of the tips sell for $10 each if purchased separately.
We found the charging tips to be sufficiently spaced to enable us to simultaneously charge two smartphones and an MP3 player on top, with a second MP3 player connected via a USB cable. Our nervousness about precariously balancing the devices on their docking ports was somewhat alleviated by the fact that the i4’s charging tips swivel in place, performing a modicum of strain relief if they get bumped. We also appreciate the LEDs that switch from red to green when a docked device is fully charged, and the master power switch that shuts down the whole shebang when you’re not using it (unlike so-called "vampire" devices that suck power even when they're not in use).
The i4 delivers a supremely convenient means of charging four handheld devices at once, and it gives you the opportunity to leave your devices' factory chargers at the office. And given the short battery life that most smart phones exhibit today, having a charger at both locations--or carting one back and forth--is almost essential. In the final analysis, $60 is a high price to pay for convenience, but it's probably less than what you'd pay in aggregate to buy second wall warts for each of the four devices you need to charge on a regular basis.