Review: Macally Power Outlet & Dual USB Charger with Phone Cradle
November 23, 2012 by Beatweek
Faceplates which turn your regular home electrical outlets into USB charging outlets are likely to be one of the more popular tech products over the next few years, and Macally has a new iteration which adds a twist. The general idea is that you remove the faceplate on an electrical outlet and replace it with one which includes not only the two standard three-prong outlets it replaces, but also a pair of USB ports which you can plug the charging cable for your iPhone or iPad or other mobile device directly into. But the descriptively named Macally Power Outlet & Dual USB Charger with Phone Cradle takes things a step further: not only does it include three electrical plugs in place of the two it covers up, it features a pair of fold-out smartphone docks on its sides.
This means you can slide your iPhone into the cradle, and then run its charging cable from the hole in the cradle’s bottom over to the USB port a few inches away. This saves you the trouble of having to position a piece of furniture close enough to outlet so you can set your iPhone on it. It’s not the most sophisticated docking station, but provided there aren’t kids or animals running around slamming into the walls, I found it to be plenty stable. Any iPhone or iPod touch will work well, since they’re all the same width. You can theoretically use the docking cradle with an Android phone, so long as its charging port is near the center of its bottom, and provided it’s not much wider than an iPhone. And while the USB ports are of high enough voltage to charge one iPad at a time, that obviously won’t fit in the cradle.
The only inherent flaw of this product is that the three electrical outlets are right next to each other, which means trouble if you’re looking to use them for products like laptops or printers which have bricks at the end of their power cables. Spread those three ports out from each other, and the whole thing would become more versatile.
If you like this idea but you’re not looking for the cradles and you’d prefer a product which simply plugs into your outlet instead of replacing its faceplate, you might do better with Macally’s five-dollars-cheaper 3-outlet Power Strip. But as it stands, this $29 cradle version is a clever way of not only sidestepping the USB charging bricks which come with devices like the iPhone, but also giving you a place to dock it while charging.
As far as installation goes, this was easy: undo one screw on my electrical outlet, and screw in the screw on the Power Outlet. If you’re concerned about slipping and electrocuting yourself, turn off the circuit breaker first.
Price: $29 • macally.com