It’s pretty clear that Bluelounge’s The Sanctuary is gunning for the same ground as the GoMadic Universal Sync Station (previously reviewed).
The playing field for charging pads and stands is still rather open… but does Bluelounge’s new design justify the high price tag? Read more to find out.
The Sanctuary continues Bluelounge’s trend of making products that mirror Apple’s Industrial Design Team. From aluminum to polycarbonate, you can just put a Bluelounge product next to anything Apple… and you would have to look closely to see the differences in design.
And, that’s not a bad thing. When you first open The Sanctuary, it looks and feels like a gigantic AirPort Base Station.
The product consists of three layers. At the bottom, is the cables allowing you to connect (according to Bluelounge) up to 1300 different devices. It comes pre-wired with all the cables from Apple to Sony Ericsson. It also carries a full array of USB connectors (including an actual USB port, for plugging any any charger that works with a standard USB port).
Atop the wiring is a black, felt lid that covers the wiring harness. There’s a small hole in it, for which you run the cables through. This allows you to only see the charging cables, for the devices that you need to charge. And, optionally, another felt top that hides everything on the charging bay.
Probably the only design flaw in The Sanctuary, is that the cables are just too short. If you have one or two devices, it’s not a problem. But, add a few devices into the mix, and some of the cables don’t reach. Even if you have enough podium space inside of The Sanctuary, and it becomes an unnecessary traffic jam. The cables start becoming unable to reach every end of the charging bay. As such, even if you could align all the devices in the right places… the cables may not be able to reach them. Worse, the cable length is not far enough to take into account an awkward charging port location.
And be careful not to break the cables. They aren’t user-replaceable.
Of course, The Sanctuary and GoMadic take sightly different approaches to the problem of gadget management. GoMadic aimes to have their charging station to be a showcase for your gadgets. The Sanctuary aims to keep things more private. In fact, it sports the top cover (previously noted), that will slip on top, hiding all your technology.
Bluelounge touts that this makes it a more travel-ready charging accessory, something that will hide valuables and gadgets in one non-descript box. I’ll tell you, if I saw a polycarbonate box like this sitting on a hotel room desk, I’d be much more likely to inspect it.
There is one more flaw with The Sanctuary, and that is the dust. It is an absolute dust magnet. Within a month of being in our office, it appeared to be the most dust-coated item in the office. This is because the black felt both clings to dust… and showcases it.
But, above all, The Sanctuary is simply overpriced. For $130, you could buy two GoMadic Charging Stations, and enough tips to cover The Sanctuary’s 1300 devices. And, without an economy of interchangeable tips, you’re limited to a single USB port for charging any unsupported device. We wouldn’t think of taking it with us on travel, so that nixes the one key advantage that Bluelounge had over GoMadic. Even at Amazon.com’s discounted price… we still aren’t interested.
Is The Sanctuary right for any group? Sure, if you’re insanely rich, it’s insanely great.
Pros: Well designed, great appearance.
Cons: Too expensive. Dust magnet. Cables do not reach far enough. Expansion limited to one USB port.
Final Score: 2/5