- Review Price: £39.99
The i4 is the company’s latest evolution of its i3 and i2 multi-device charging platform and – as the name suggests – it can support simultaneous charging of up to four devices. So what, there are many products on the market which can do that. The big news, however, is in a sector dominated by poorly designed tat, the i4 gets pretty much everything right – for a price.
Where iDapt succeeds right from the off is where most multi-chargers fail: design. Whereas most solutions employ as many wires as the chargers they are meant to replace, the i4 uses a dock with interchangeable tips. This means there is just one cable (to the wall socket) and the tips lock into the dock in any arrangement desired. They lock in with a solid and satisfying click too and only come out when both buttons either side of each tip are pressed – the release being strong enough that the tips actually leap a good 3-4 inches out their slot. In practice it is a wonderfully simple, flexible and extremely robust system.
Three of the four charging points work in this manner – their uneven distribution (two at the top, one at the bottom) allows larger devices the extra room to charge. Meanwhile the fourth charging port is a powered USB slot on the right hand side, simple and practical.
In the box iDapt bundles tips for a dock connector (Apple iPods, iPhones and iPad), micro and mini USB, as well as tips for Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson mobile phones. Other tips can be purchased separately with the selection currently including ones for Nintendo DSi and DS-L, a DC output and a neat double AA/AAA battery charger. All retail for £6 each, except for the AA/AAA tip which is £12. With the i4 itself retailing for £39.99 costs can quickly mount and it is almost certain that – depending on your manufacturer allegiance – you’ll probably need more than one dock connector or micro USB tip.
The good news is that while your wallet may feel the strain it is apparent that your hard earned cash not only went on smart design, but also excellent build quality. The dock is rock solid with not a creak or squeak to be heard and the tips are durable and don’t wobble in place. At 169 x 135 x 32mm the dock could be smaller, but it is deceptively light at 300g and will happily survive being thrown in a suitcase. For the gaudily fashion conscious iDapt provides the dock in 11 different finishes – black, white, silver, light blue, scarlet, lime green, pink, orange, matte black, metallic blue and gold – though it is worth noting tips only come in black.
So the design is good, the price a little on the high side, but compensated by top notch build quality. Happily iDapt doesn’t blow it at the last minute when it comes to the actual charging.
For a start all four charge points run independently with self regulating power supplies. iDapt doesn’t supply idle power usage (we’re chasing it), but it does mean consumption decreases both when a point is idle and when the device it is charging is fully charged. Charging doesn’t take long either, even when all four ports are employed as DC output is up to 13W. You certainly won’t notice any significant increase in charge times compared to dedicated individual wall chargers.
That said we do have a complaint. Each charge point has its own LED to indicate charge status. When idle the LED is green and when charging it turns red. Once a device is fully charged the LED flashes green and red which is quite distracting. Yes the bonus of having individual LEDS on each charge point outweighs this, but a simple red (idle), amber (charging), green (charged) implementation would surely make more sense.
All in all though, it is hard to pick faults with a product that is so simple and works so well. We’ve seen countless multi-device chargers over the years, yet until now we’ve largely stuck to dedicated cables or USB ports. Fancy induction charging products like the Powermat may well be the future of charging, but until industry standards are sorted out and manufacturers all on the same page (2020?) the i4 remains a far more practical product day-to-day.
It is a well known fact that many of the best ideas are the simplest and iDapt’s i4 is a shining example of this. We finally have a multi-device charger which lives up to its promise and if you’ve enjoyed a gadget filled Christmas there can be few smarter buys to make come Boxing Day…
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