08
Oct
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When it comes to Android gadgets, I have sort of a "the more, the merrier" mindset. But that poses a huge problem (aside from my wife's constant anger at money being spent on "another device I don't need"): charging them all is an absolute pain in the posterior. There are generally two choices: cords everywhere! or making my devices take turns charging. If you only have two or three devices, the latter option may be somewhat acceptable; anything more, however, and that's just not practical. Of course, having cords laying around everywhere is not only impractical but also unsightly.

Enter Griffin's PowerDock 5 ($99), a badass five-port charging station that makes easy work of juicing up multiple devices at the same time ... for the most part.

The Good

The Bad

  • Looks great; organized and clean
  • 5x 5V 2.1a charging ports
  • Charges almost any USB device
  • Overpriced
  • Can be awkward if not positioned correctly

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Right out of the gate, it's kind of clear the the PowerDock 5 was designed with iOS devices in mind. Its clean, white aesthetic just matches the overall look of many Apple products (and it doesn't hurt that Griffin touts it as "optimized for iOS devices). While that sort of thing normally bothers me, I don't find it overly-offensive with the PowerDock 5; in all honestly, I really like how it looks. Also, going back to the whole "iOS optimization thing," Griffin also says it will work with most USB devices, just in case that was actually something you were wondering.

Each of the PowerDock 5's charging bays are separated by clear plastic dividers and feature small cable runs in between, which makes for convenient cable management if needed. The bottom is also covered in rubber, so it won't slip off of smooth surfaces. That said, the way it's laid out also makes it kind of awkward looking unless it's positioned correctly. The power cable (which features a rather large brick) comes out of one side... or it could be the back, depending on how you use it. This is of course makes the positioning very important, because no one wants to see the power cable. That's just ugly. Also, because of the port layout, I can conveniently place the PowerDock on the right side of my desk, but when placed on the left it just looks horrible – either cables are laying everywhere or the power cable is in the front. Thankfully the right side makes me the most sense to me, but your mileage may vary – it's just something to consider.

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The PowerDock 5's USB ports supply 10 watts of power – 5 volts at 2.1 amps each. That's pretty typical of most Android device chargers these days, and it's easily enough for almost every phone, tablet, and other Android-powered thingy out there. There are of course some exceptions to this, and if you've read any of our past multi-device charger reviews, you'll know exactly where this is going: ASUS' Transformer line. For some reason, ASUS has made every single one of the Transformers up to this point with a proprietary charger, and they will not charge with anything else. It's annoying. Past that, however, the PowerDock has handled every device I threw at it without breaking a sweat. Not that it can really sweat in the first place.

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One downside of the PowerDock 5 is that it doesn't come with USB cables. While it's unfortunate that Griffin couldn't toss a handful of short microUSB cables in the box, it's also understandable – this is "optimized for iOS," after all. Alas, USB cables are dirt cheap these days – I ordered a five-pack lot of 12-inch microUSB cables from eBay for less than $6. They do exactly what I need without being too long and in the way. 

When it comes to charging speed, it really varies. All of the ports are identical, so it depends on what you're used to. For example, if you usually charge your phone with a 1A AC adapter, then the 2.1A ports on the PowerDock 5 will juice it up quicker than the standard charger. If, on the other hand, you use a 2.0-2.1A adapter, charging time should be roughly the same. So, it all depends on the device and adapter combination you normally use.

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As much as I like the PowerDock 5, there is one glaring issue with it: the price. At $99, it's overpriced. I could see this unit coming in at around $50 or $60, especially when many other multi-device charging options cost even less than that. Of course, I do think the PowerDock is one of the most elegant-looking solutions for the charging conundrum and it does feature a place to actually put the devices while they're charging, which to me helps justify a slightly higher price tag than some of the aforementioned competitors.

Overall, I think the PowerDock 5 is an extremely useful and visually pleasing product. If you have multiple devices and don't mind shelling out top dollar for a solid charging solution, then I easily and readily recommend Griffin's offering. Otherwise, David rounded up a nice selection of much more affordable products just yesterday.

Buy: Griffin

Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, musician, and cyclist. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6-string, spinning on the streets, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • fonix232

    No offense, but from David's list of 5 the only comparable solution was the JOY ZipMini. Now, if you go with the 4-port one, you get one microUSB cable with the unit, for 36USD, plus you have to order 3 more, for an extra 33USD. All together it becomes 70USD, and it is still a lot less fancy than this Griffin dock, and does not offer the same organizing solution. So I'd say it is worth the extra 30 bucks. Not that I don't like the Joy, it is a really good looking device, and might have great potential in the next version.

    • Jason Rittenhouse

      for smaller devices the bestek listed first has a tray on top to hold your devices. it's not as handy as this device but $20 is a much better price

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      Honestly, I'm with you. It's really all about preference, I suppose.

      • fonix232

        You know what would make this stand cooler? LEDs. Lots of them, jammed under the "glass" (plastic) separators.

  • Herman

    I rarely have to charge more than one device at a time actually. Once I empty one, I'll start charging it and using the other.

    • Bong

      Same here apart from my Bose mini, which I use with the phone, tablet etc to get good sound with netflix, etc.

  • MeCampbell30

    I thought each pane of glass had an inductive charging coil in it. That would be cool. Someone should Kickstarter that (and pay me for coming up with the idea).

    • mikeym0p

      Read the article, got disappointed, came here to be first to say this got disappointed again.

      • tomn1ce

        That looks like a hot mess....I thought there would be some kind of microUSB at the bottom or each slot. Then I saw all the cables and was like WTF..... Who puts 5 items to charge at the time anyway.

        • Conjoiner

          2 iPads, 2 Samsung Galaxy, 2 Nokia Lumia, 1 Sony Xperia, 2 Garmin Foreruner, 1 Bluetooth headset. ALL requires a USB charger. This thing is overpriced AND iWhite (uck) but I'll take 1 to go right now, Thank you!

  • Big bear

    Loaded up it is very ugly. If anyone has $100 to spend on that junk they are mad.
    You can get a charger with 5outputs minus the horror rack for £10. No brainier. No wonder your wife gets on your case bringing rubbish like that home. Try buying her something. Not a kitchen gadget, or something you want! Poor lady. Sad

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      It's crazy how quickly you went from "this product looks like crap" to "YOU'RE A HORRIBLE HUSBAND."

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii
        • Herman

          Why haven't I seen this before?

          • JonJJon

            Probably using the lift instead?

            Yeah I know, that was terrible.

  • http://404err0r.com/ Henry Park

    I wish I had the whole Nexus family too..... :/
    WHY MUST COLLEGE BE SO EXPENSIVE T.T

  • Ron D.

    Wow that is one ugly charging dock!

  • Francois Roy

    Cables everywhere, I beg you!

  • MattE303

    Well it's mainly targeted at Apple users, so of course it's way overpriced! ;)

  • CatheyBarrett

    on a side note...such an amazing article on internet jobs..interesting read... ℯ­x­i­t­3­5­.­c­o­m

  • alex

    ugly and way overpriced !!!!

  • Qliphah

    Really? $100? wow, I made one just like this (granted without the white paintjob or plexyglass dividers) out of an USB hub and some particle board.. total cost about $15.

    Plus heres a free design improvement, make the USB A plug end internal and allow the cables to be stored internally with only the B plug with enough cable to connect extending outside, that things a mess the way it is.

  • Robb Nunya

    I have to agree on the price. I'll wait for the fire sale. Sorry to the creators, but it's not worth $99 to me, so I'll wait. Hopefully they can still make a profit at $50, so I can buy it without feeling like a total tool. But I'm better with feeling like a tool than a fool, so wait I will.

    Edit: For $100, it should have integrated micro USB ports that allow the devices to actually dock with the thing. THAT would be sweet. But I actually like the plexiglass dividers because I'd use them. I have 5 devices that need charging nightly between myself and my wife, so this would be great if it allowed me to dock the devices.

  • Mark

    I have one an I love it. Suggestion: Do not put the plastic dividers in---having them out makes this a great travel charger too

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