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Sunday, July 30, 2017

1834. USB Charging

I have a bunch of devices that need to be charged via USB. For example, I have a phone, a tablet, a Bluetooth headset, and a Bluetooth speaker. I don't have enough electrical outlets near my desk to charge all these things. Do you have any suggestion as to how I can charge all of my devices at once?

It’s funny: You’re looking for an answer to a problem that simply didn’t exist a few years ago. We can remember clearly when every device had a unique and dedicated charging brick; woe be unto you if you lost or mislabeled the device’s specific charger. Look in your old electronics drawer: You’ll certainly find an old Nokia or Samsung phone charger that’s of absolutely no value any more.

At some point, device manufacturers realized that consumers’ lives would be so, so much easier if most devices shared a common, standard charging mechanism. And so, USB charging was “born.” Although the device end of the charging cables isn’t completely consistent, the “plug-in” side of the cables are almost all identical, and all use the same voltage and are generally interchangeable. (We’re always amused and amazed when a friend is surprised to find that she can charge her iPhone using the USB port on her laptop, even though it’s not the charger that came with the phone!) This proliferation of USB charging means that we now need some charging station; a place where we can plug in multiple USB devices concurrently.

Oh, sure, we could use an electric power strip, and plug in all the devices’ individual chargers, one in each socket. But that takes up an entire charging strip, and a lot of room. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have one device that simply has a number of available USB ports for charging? And of course, this device exists. And it’s easy to find. And it’s cheap. And you have a ton of choices. USB chargers come in sizes with one port (like the one that came with each of your devices), up to 6 or more USB ports. The general consensus is that devices from the manufacturer Anker are the most popular—they’re often on sale on, and we’re big fans. Check out []—you’ll find a bunch of options.

Be aware that not all USB chargers are the same. Some devices take more power than others (for example, to charge an iPad requires more amps than charging a phone), and not all USB chargers handle the difference in power draw as well as others. Anker, of course, does a great job at this, and their devices clearly indicate what they’ll support. Pick up a USB charger for travel, work, and/or home. You’ll no longer need to use all your computer’s USB ports or multiple power outlets to charge your devices.

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