Clutter: The Next Generation
You already have some multi-port AC adapters, but they just aren't enough for your needs. You’d like to keep all of your devices in one location for convenience. However, you don't want the ugly pile-up that I snapped a picture of for today's tear-down. What can you do to reduce clutter, while staying better-organized? The logical next step is to get some sort of device organizer. Or how about a device organizer with a built-in power supply?
Today, we're looking at PrimeCables’ $25 Cab-C05132-BK 10-Port USB Smart Power Station with Slot Dock (or C05132 for short). An extremely similar device is also sold by iKits in the U.S. for $35.
Although my USB-powered gadget collection is slowly growing, I don't need 10 ports for myself. So, I had to bury the station under a pile of power banks, most of which are too thick to fit neatly between its supports. This setup uses half as much total desk space while providing direct access to everything.
While using short cables goes a long way towards tidying things up, there is still such a thing as too short, even when using a desktop charger. I had to put my Bluetooth keyboard port-side-down because the cable was too short to loop over the top otherwise.
Unfortunately, PrimeCables didn’t waste a penny asking a technically competent English writer to look over its machine-translated Chinese product description and rewrite everything properly. I specifically dislike the “Quantities” section, which I intuitively associate with a list of contents instead of output specifications.
My favorite line is "User Manual: Included." How often do you see boxes that single out the user manual as a featured selling point?
PrimeCables’ charging station fares better in the packaging department, where each part gets its own dedicated cut-out in the foam block to keep everything separate during transit, including a foam sheet to protect against impacts from the top.
The manual does a decent job of covering the most important features, albeit with a healthy dose of redundancy and exaggerated merits, such as “Intelligent LED power indicators” when there is only one, and it is nothing more than a dumb on/off indicator. Output protections also get mentioned four times in the feature list. Two of those bullet points are "Short circuit protection," even though this is nothing more than over-current and should be covered under “intelligent multiple safety protection” anyway.
While I've mentioned that I'm not a huge fan of really short cables, there are situations where they do make sense. A desktop charging station would lose much of its appeal by cluttering a desk with excess wiring, and a handful of short cables go a long way toward minimizing cable sprawl.
Excluding the connectors up to their strain relief molding, these cables are 15cm (6”) long, making them my shortest micro-B cables yet.
Just like SilverStone’s UC01, the C05132’s power brick comes with a modular IEC C7 cord for convenient replacement in case it gets damaged, you want a different length or color, or you'd rather switch between country-specific plug styles instead of using travel adapters.
At 110cm (43”) long, this 18-gauge cord should provide sufficient freedom to drop the brick in a convenient location.
PrimeCables’ universal input power brick with 19V/3.78A output claims Level VI efficiency and appears to be a proper UL/TUV-listed part manufactured by Dongguan Guanjin Electronics in China.
Why are such bricks still so common in a world of high-powered AC-DC converters that could easily be built in? Simple: it frees device designers from the regulatory and liability burdens of creating their own AC-DC power supplies, leaving only their low-voltage application to worry about.
Permanently attached 18-gauge coaxial cord is 145cm (57”) long, which should be plenty for most situations.
How many slots do you see? I only count eight storage slots on this 10-port charger, which means you’ll either have two devices spilling over or sharing slots if you want to use all of the ports simultaneously. Dividers are molded together as a single top piece, which means there's no convenient way to redistribute storage space. Neoprene strips on the sides provide a soft grippy surface to keep devices from sliding around.
With the strips about one centimeter away from the base’s sides, and assuming the internals aren’t using the space, the station could have been made that much narrower, saving many square inches of desk space without affecting its form or function.
From the front, you can see PrimeCables’ logo, the power button, and the brick cable poking out of the right side. If you are like me and prefer keeping cables out of the way, the "front" may actually end up being the back, moving that power cord off the back of your desk or table where it won't interfere.
From this angle, there's another reason for my width reduction: less of a hard plastic lip between the walls and neoprene strips to bang devices on when you put them down.
As far as the exterior tour is concerned, this is the angle you're likely most interested in. From left to right, we have the 5.5/2.1mm 19V DC-in barrel jack, six 5V/1A USB ports, two ports sharing 2.4A, and a pair of ports capable of 2.4A each for a grand total of 13.2A, as advertised on the box and stated inside the manual.
I would have been happier with a few extra 2.4A ports and a slight chance of overloading the station than dealing with an inflexible power distribution.