We take a full look at the GoMadic Universal Charging Station. Does it live up to the hype of being a universal podium for your gadgets? Read more to find out.
The GoMadic Charging Station revolves around the use of GoMadic’s proprietary tip system. The tips are compatible with their charging and sync cables, and they also offer adapters to use them independently with AC, DC, and USB cables. In short, the charging station is their latest implementation of the same tip system.
As you can see pictured below, the charging station can indeed handle four devices at once…
At $49.95, the price has finally entered the realm of reason. For $50, the device actually rivals the cost of first-party desktop cradle and charge units for high-end phones. And, you have the flexibility to use four devices of any choice… you can plug replace the devices simply by paying a few dollars for a new charging tip.
Unfortunately, the charging station is not perfect. The charging cables that run to the devices are far too short. This winds up with the cables being unable to reach charging ports properly on many devices. The result? Devices have to lay in very awkward positions to charge… often touching or resting upon other devices on the charging stand.
The worst offenders we encountered with this are the Motorola SLVR and the BlackBerry Pearl. Both have charging ports on the side of the device, requiring the device to be placed horizontally. And, with the SLVR having the charging port at the top of the phone… that short cable makes it even harder to properly align the device.
Room for Improvement
There are a few areas that GoMadic fell just a little bit short in their initial release. The first, as noted previously, is the length of the charging cables is just too short for charging ports other than on the bottom of the devices.
The other change would have to be the limitation of four devices. While that may be a power constraint… certainly most users are not charging four devices at once (usually). An ideal improvement would be the ability to line up multiple charging stations in a snap-on or locking system. That would enable the user to have a desk-width lined with a convenient charging stand that looks professional… rather than two charging stands rubbing against each other.
This could be integrated into two charging stands without needing additional product lines, just make the ends snap-off-able, and allow for two charging stations to click on to one-another. An added bonus would be to combine their power and not require two bricks, this could be done via a power interconnect cable inside the unit…
Also, there doesn’t seem to be any reason why the device could offer charging ports on the sides, so that you could have two devices sitting on the table, to the left and right of the charging station. That would easily expand the device’s charging ability by another two devices.
There’s a lot of unused space under the charging station. That would be perfect for storing batteries and unused accessories. Unfortunately, it’s covered by a sealed piece of plastic. A simple re-tooling of the base of the unit would allow for it to be used for storage, without revealing any clutter. A quick tilting up of the charging station would reveal the storage underneath, and there’s no risk of gadgets falling off, due to the anti-slip material the devices rest on already.
Dust happens. And, it does indeed happen to GoMadic. As dust falls onto your desk, it becomes aparrent that the neoprene surface holds onto the dust. Thankfully, cleaning with an alcohol wipe does a good job of removing the dust, so this is of less consequence than one might fear initially.
Finally, there’s no way to use the device as a syncing station with your computer. GoMadic doesn’t bill it as one, which we can understand, but with USB hubs being so inexpensive, it’s odd that the GoMadic sync cables weren’t supported here. Integrating a hub, and allowing for those same tips to plug in certainly isn’t rocket science, but it is a prerequisite for any future versions of this station. Being able to truly replace cradles and the mess of USB cables would probably be the only reason for people who buy one to upgrade from this first generation version.
For the past few months, the GoMadic charging station has been on my desk. And, while I’ve cleared, re-arranged, and sorted my desk time and time again… the GoMadic Universal Charging station has stayed. It’s an excellent platform that has a few areas to improve on. But, at the low price of $50, it’s worth buying now.
Pros: The first adequate charging station for the typical consumer.
Cons: Charging cables too short, no storage underneath, can’t combine stations, no sync support.
Final Score: 5/5