Charging cables and cords… they’re everywhere. Literally everywhere. Have an iPhone? You need a 5W wall adapter and a USB cable. An iPad? You need a 10W wall adapter and a USB cable. Using a Samsung Galaxy Tab? You’ll need one of their proprietary chargers. Have a Blackberry or Android phone? Most likely you need a microUSB adapter connected to a wall charger. And the list goes on and on.
I hate the mess of cords. That’s why I’ve been so interested in the various conductive charging systems that have been coming to market for the past few years. The issue there? Most of the time they still require a special case to make the magic happen. That’s why The Joy Factory’s new charging station caught my eye. I’ve been impressed with the products we’ve reviewed from the company and I liked the way they took a different path toward using conductive charging. Is the Zip USB Touch-n-go™ Multi-Charging Station with Micro USB & Mini USB Low-Profile ZipTail Receivers a keeper? Read on…
From The Joy Factory:
Charge your devices with a touch! The Zip multi-charging station from The Joy Factory makes charging all your devices fast and easy. Just touch your device to the pad and it slides into place. The Zip’s Touch-n-go™ design has multiple charging receivers for your Kindle, Blackberry, Treo or other mobile device and tablets. With 2100mA, you can charge up to three cellular phones at once—or more, depending on the power transformer on the devices. Ultra-low profile “ZipTail” connectors eliminate cord tangle, and unlike traditional charging systems, there’s zero percent power loss because they plug directly into your devices. The Zip comes with a starter kit that includes one mini USB and two micro USB receiver. Additional receivers and an optional case with connector are available separately. It’s never been easier—or more stylish—to charge all your wireless devices.
Ultra-Fast Charging: The low-profile “Ziptail” magnetic charging receiver snaps on to the Zip when it’s in range and the conductive technology prevents energy loss allowing a fast charge.
Convenient Calling: Pick up a phone call immediately without worrying about the constraints of the limited cable length and instantly resume charging as the Ziptail reattaches to the Zip.
Live without Clutter: No more tangling cords or multiple power plugs. Charge all your devices with just the Zip and the Ziptails.
Function + Design = Zip: The glossy piano black finish, thin elegant form, and the powerful fast charging, all entitles the Zip as the perfect power décor.
The Joy Factory went for “different” when designing the Zip USB. Its oblong shape is certainly distinctive; it is something you will either love or hate.
It also has the word “JOY” in bold, obvious letters running across the narrow side of the tray. Personally, I’m not a fan of the overly obnoxious branding!
The Zip USB comes with the charging tray, a microUSB cable, a wall adapter and three Ziptail connectors (two microUSB). You can also purchase additional Ziptails for $12.95 each.
You might notice there isn’t an Apple adapter included and, at least right now, none are available.
The tray has a microUSB connector hidden along one side. This is how the system gets power.
The tray has 16 slightly depressed circles and in each one are three metal dots. There are the conductive charging spots through which the juice flows.
If you have ever seen one of the other conductive charging systems they will look familiar as this is the same system found in other “plug less” systems. The key difference here is that the round dots are usually found on the case that’s being used with the system and the charging plate is smooth like the Ziptails we’ll take a closer look at… now.
The Ziptails are kind of neat. They are rather small, thin and light. One side has the connector that plugs into the device while the other has a round disk.
Here’s a closer look.
And here is the other side. It is this side that connects to the charging tray. It is smooth the way the trays from other systems are.
The Ziptails are magnetized and, as a result, are “grabbed” when one of the disks gets close to any of the 16 charging slots. The two connect with an audible “click”.
They hang off the tray connected to the device you are charging or…
they can be stored without the tails hanging off. Here’s a video from the company that shows how the system works and… what it sounds like.
I think the Joy Factory is on to something here but, like other conductive charging systems we’ve seen, I’m not quite sure we have arrived at the ideal solution. Sure, there is a fun, unique quality to the Zip USB Touch-n-go Multi-Charging Station. It looks different, functions different and can charge a lot of different devices with ease. There are, however, some limitations.
First, for someone like me the lack of a solution for charging iOS devices is an issue. Hopefully the company will come out with an Apple Ziptail or a case for the iPhone or iPod touch that works with it. (The site DOES reference cases being available but it is unclear what devices will be supported.
Second, I’m not sure you need 16 different charging slots. To me it seems like overkill and makes the charging tray far bigger than I think it needs to be.
Third and finally, I’m not totally sure what this accomplishes. Let me explain what I mean by that. The key benefit of conductive charging systems is the fact that you don’t have to actually plug anything into your device. So long as the special case is on it (or the technology is built into it as I hope it will soon be) you simply lay the device on the charging platform. The technology is not yet mature but each version of conductive charging systems we have reviewed have gotten a bit closer to what really needs to exist before the technology takes off.
The issue here is that you still need to have something plugged into your device. Sure, it is small, light and can lets you grab your device from it when a phone call comes in without needing to unplug anything but the Ziptail still needs to be plugged into the device. So what do you actually gain? The increased efficiency is nice, especially in an ago of conservation but is it enough to make this worthwhile? The jury is still out for me.
That noted, it is very well made, it works as promised, and it is guaranteed to be a conversation starter when people see it.
Details and ordering information can be found here.
MSRP: $79.95; Additional “tails” are $12.95 each
What I Like: Certainly different; Cool use of conductive technology; Offers great flexibility; you can purchase additional Ziptails; Charge multiple devices but only use one wall outlet
What Needs Improvement: No Apple Ziptails; odd shape that takes up a fair amount of desk space; Big “Joy” label on top; Still requires something plugged into the device in order to charge