I have never thought of power strips as sexy or gorgeous. To me, all power strips were unavoidable tools that did their job while hiding behind a desk or under a cabinet. The fact that they all looked like cheap pieces of plastic was a necessary evil, a price to pay for their convenient functionality. But that all changed when I saw the Woodie Hub project on Kickstarter.
The Woodie oozed class in a modern and minimalistic way. This was a power strip you could display on your desk, a table in your living room, a bedside table, without it sticking out in the décor like a sore thumb. But that wasn't the only thing that drew me to it. I had looked far and wide for a power strip that offered universal sockets, USB ports, and Qi charging and never found one. As far as I could tell, this was the first product to offer all of these together. So you can imagine that I instantly jumped on the opportunity to try it out.
|Input||100-240V, 50/60Hz 10A|
|Input Cord||1.5m rubber with grey cloth and Type B, G, F, or I plug|
|Power output||2 Universal AC sockets with grounding, 100-240V, 50/60Hz 10A|
|USB charging||Smart dual USB ports, 5V/3.2A combined|
|Wireless charging||5V/1A (5W), triple coil with 78% efficiency Qi Standard WPC 1.1|
|Other||White LED light, micro-suction bottom pad, 3 finishes (wood, marble, concrete)|
|Exceptional build quality||The Woodie Hub looks gorgeous, feels premium, and doesn't skimp on the quality of anything from its premium frames to the white plastic and the cord.|
|Universal power sockets||Regardless of which chargers or power adapters you have, you can plug them into the sockets without worries.|
|Triple charging method||This is one of the rare power strips with sockets, USB ports, and Qi charging in one.|
|No quick charging||Unless you plug in your own QC-compatible charger, there's no native quick charging with the Woodie's USB ports.|
|No USB-C port||The 2 USB ports are regular ports so you will need USB A to C cables to charge your USB-C phones and gadgets.|
|Price||This was already expensive at the Kickstarter price of €89. It's even more so now that it costs €219.90 and above.|
Quality materials and finishes
Let's start with the bad before I start gushing over the Woodie. Perhaps the one disappointing aspect of the hub is its packaging. It's a black cardboard cube with a transparent plastic on top that shows off the Woodie. It feels cheap and frankly doesn't do the product inside it justice. But once you get over the packaging, you see the hub with its neatly wrapped power cord and a small manual.
The Woodie itself is superbly built with the outer frame made of premium materials. You can choose between light and dark concrete (€219.90), oak or italian walnut (€249.90), or carrara arabescato or green alps marble (€349.90). I'll give you a moment to faint and get up, pick your jaw off the floor, or otherwise process these prices in your own way.
I have the oak version and it looks gorgeous. The entire frame is cut from a single piece of wood with no unsightly seams, misalignments, or cheap glossy finishes. The frame surrounds a piece of thick plastic where all of the electric pieces sit. This is no cheap plastic either; it's white, matte, soft to the touch, and sturdy. It protrudes in two small rectangles around the back and front of the Woodie where the cord and USB ports are located, respectively.
Given that each piece of wood is carved individually for the Woodie, you can tell that there are teeny tiny differences in how the wood fits with the molded plastic, but in the unit I have, there weren't any remotely flagrant misalignments or big gaps. Quite the contrary, I found that they added character to the hub.
If I told you that the Woodie is designed and built in Italy, you might understand the exorbitant prices but also appreciate the look, finishes, and materials.
Universal sockets, USB ports, and Qi
The top of the hub houses two AC power sockets. They're universal and can fit any plug from my European ones to the plugs from the US, UK, Australia, China, and more. They can also supply power from 100 to 240V to suit any region, and go up to 10A to power most modern electronics, notebooks, or whatever you feel like plugging into them.
The front of the Woodie has 2 regular USB ports with smart charging rated at 3.2A combined. That's nowhere near the efficiency of the newest quick charging methods, but it's enough to charge one device at decent speeds (around 2A) or two devices at a little less. I would use these if I'm not in a rush or if I plan on leaving my device charging overnight, but not if I want the most juice in the least amount of time possible. I think Woodie dropped the ball here: at least two ports with 2.4A each should have been used, if not two QC ports.
Below the universal sockets, on the top of the Woodie, you'll find a large carved W in the plastic. This isn't just a design choice, it's also where the triple-coil Qi wireless charging pad is. You can rest any Qi-compatible device on it and have it charge at a rate of 1A. Again, this isn't the faster Qi charging we've seen in recent times, and it will take time to charge your phone. The convenience of placing your device and not worrying about alignment or cables is nice though.
Beside the elegant look and the three output methods, there are a couple of bonuses included in the Woodie that add a bit of convenience and sturdiness. First is the large micro-suction pad on the bottom that can stick to any flat surface and keep the hub in place.
Second is a hidden LED strip on the bottom that glows softly each time the Woodie is connected to power, serving both as a sign that the hub is functional and a way to quickly locate it in dark rooms.
And finally, the power cord is robust, made of rubber cord, and wrapped in fine grey cloth. It's thick, soft to the touch, and looks and feels much more premium than regular plastic cables or even braided ones.
My unit comes with an EU plug at the end of the cord. There are other types of plugs to choose from.
How I used it
I got the Woodie Hub primarily to use as a bedside table charger in my new apartment. The oak wooden finish will look fantastic with the light-colored wood we've chosen for the bedroom, the AC sockets will be perfect to plug a Google Home and my Chromebook when needed, the USB ports will do the job for filling up my phone + Huawei Watch / Fitbit overnight, and the Qi charger will be there for those instances when I just can't be bothered with plugging my phone in or when I need a 5th charging outlet. The LED lamp, as I've found out, will also be fantastic to locate the hub in the dark and as a make-do weak night light.
But since my apartment is not done yet (sigh), I had to test the Woodie at work in the meantime. For those of you who are following my recent reviews, yes, my pharmacy has become the testing ground for many gadgets lately.
I found the perfect opportunity to try out Woodie. Each year, I put up a Christmas tree with lights and both my assistant and I hate our lives for the next few weeks because the electricity socket is hidden behind it, making it very difficult to plug/unplug the tree every morning/night, respectively, without losing balance, toppling the tree over, knocking some decoration out, or catching our clothes on the branches. Now that I also have a Canary camera and a Wink smart home hub that, unlike the tree lights, need to stay plugged in that same socket overnight, we were going to have nightmares managing things.
So I plugged the Woodie in the socket and placed it on the cabinet next to it, making it very accessible despite the Christmas tree. I plugged the Wink (US plug) into one of the universal sockets, the tree lights (EU plug) into the other, and since Canary powers over MicroUSB, I plugged it into one of the USB ports. That left me with the Qi pad and one USB port still available to charge both my phone and my assistant's if needed. You can see the setup in the left image below.
A couple of days later, I realized that I had the Aeotec smart switch (US plug) that I already wrote about in my Wink review. I could plug that directly into Woodie and plug my Christmas lights in it, making them smart. Ha! (Bright lamp overhead moment.) I switched to that setup, which you can see in the right image below. Now my lights were smart and I could simply schedule them to turn on and off during work hours, or easily reach and unplug them when needed.
You can see the wall socket behind the tree and cabinets in the left image. Reaching it was a chore.
Could I have done that with a regular power strip? Sure. But I would have needed two adapters to plug the Wink and Aeotec in (they're both US plugs and we use EU here), one charger to plug the Canary's USB cable, and I wouldn't have had Qi charging as a bonus.
I did another test with Woodie, placing it in the stock room on a marble countertop and using it as a Qi charging pad for my S7 Edge, with a USB-C charger plugged in for my Nexus 5X and a USB cable for my various Bluetooth headphones. It also worked as promised, staying put thanks to the micro-suction pad and providing different ways to charge all my gadgets.
If money is not an issue
And we come back to the elephant in the room: price. When it was launched as a Kickstarter project, you could grab a concrete Woodie Hub for €89, a wooden one for €109, or a marble one for €129. Those prices were already high, but now that Woodie is officially in production, they're a lot, lot, lot, lot higher. You're looking at €219.90 for the concrete model and even more for the others. Big ouch.
Do the minimal and elegant design, superb build quality, and convenience of having all forms of power and charging at your disposal outweigh the hefty price tag? That's a decision you will have to make. If you're the kind who subscribes to our Deal Alert posts and looks for a $1 price drop on a multi-USB port charger with several Qualcomm QC and USB-C ports, then Woodie is definitely not for you. However, if you appreciate aesthetics and don't understand a single technical word I mentioned previously or if you value design and convenience over a little bit more power here and there, then you should consider the Woodie hub.
Personally, I keep oscillating between two contradicting thoughts. One is that if you care about your furniture and home design, you're already paying more for various items that you may use infinitely less and that don't look half as good as the Woodie. The second is that if you're paying this freaking much for a power strip, it better have 3-4 AC sockets, USB ports with Quick Charge, at least 2 USB-C ports, and faster Qi charging!
The conclusion I have come to is that I enjoy Woodie and it's still the only universal power strip with USB and Qi charging that I've found. (Let me know in the comments if you know any alternatives, I'd love to take a look!) So at this point, I'm willing to forgive its technical shortcomings. I still only own one USB-C phone and I have USB A to C cables for it, USB Quick Charging doesn't matter a lot since I'm going to keep my phones overnight, and, if I really needed it, I can always plug a Quick Charge or USB-C charger. The team started working on the Woodie hub in January of 2015 and back then, most of these fancy charging methods weren't as prevalent as they are nowadays. However, the second generation better catch up on all fronts or it'll be much, much, much more difficult to justify the price tag then.
Buy: Woodie Hub