Wall warts are our least favorite option for charging mobile devices. They’re bulky, ugly, and no matter which angle they’re oriented, they inevitably block the adjacent outlet on the strip or on the wall. Joy Factory’s innovative Zip USB Touch-n-Go eliminates them forever. It’s a little expensive, and it’s probably bigger than it needs to be, but we dig it.
The kit consists of a guitar-pick-shaped plank with 16 conductive-charging dimples, four ZipTails that plug into your devices, and a (somewhat inevitable) wall wart with a USB cable to carry power to the plank. Each ZipTail is a very short cable with a round magnetic charger on one end and a plug on the other. Connect one end to the device you wish to charge, place the device anywhere on or around the edge of the plank, and the charger end will be magnetically drawn to the nearest dimple. This doesn’t require much thought or user intervention if only one or two ZipTails are already on the plank; but when you add three more, you’ll need to make sure each additional one snaps onto an unoccupied dimple and not another ZipTail.
The Touch-n-Go doesn't inspire joy, but its quirky design and ability to charge a multitude of mobile devices at once does make us smile.
Joy Factory puts one mini USB, one 30-pin Apple, and two micro USB ZipTails in the box with the charger. You can purchase additional ZipTales separately, but they’re more than a little pricey at $12.95 each. Joy Factory indicates the five-volt power adapter supplies the plank with 2,000 mA, or enough power to charge three smartphones simultaneously. We had no problem charging a Samsung Captivate, an iPad 2, and a Logitech iPad 2 Keyboard Case at the same time, but we do wonder why there needs to be 16 dimples. The whole thing could be smaller if there were just five or six. We were initially worried about misplacing ZipTails we weren’t using, but the magnets keep them securely attached to the plank.
The Touch-n-Go isn’t quite as convenient as some other conductive chargers we’ve seen, since you have to plug the ZipTail into your device to charge it and remove it when you’re finished; but we prefer doing that over permanently attaching components to our devices. And it’s a far superior charging solution than managing a drawer full of wall warts and their snarled cables.