After my previous tirade in which I addressed the untenable situation of charger insanity brought on by a Jawbone charger induced panic attack, the good folks over at CallPod asked me if I would be willing to look at one of their ChargePod kits. "Sure, send one over -- it can't possibly be worse than my current situation" I said.
Now, the prospect of bringing yet another gadget with my already bulging TravelPro rolling laptop bag with me on every business trip didn't particularly thrill me, but at this point, I would have done anything to try to minimize the clutter. While somewhat of an expensive mobile accessory at $99 for a starter kit, the ChargePod is actually a very nice solution. Short of making every mobile consumer electronics device use the same charging interface, this is probably as good as we are going to get. The ChargePod is a little flying saucer shaped device with six blue LED-illuminated connector ports, each of which can hook up to a multitude of different devices depending on the connector used.
The ChargePod Bundle pack includes the ChargePod saucer, the AC adapter that hooks into the saucer, a car charger, and a starter kit of six adapter connectors that address most of the commonly used mobile devices a traveller might carry. The unit also comes with a nice carrying case that will contain the saucer, charger, and a number of connectors. ChargePod also sells an entire line of weirdo oddball connectors if your particular device isn't addressed in the Bundle. You can also custom order your own bundle of stuff with whatever combination of connectors you need if the basic Bundle isn't adequate. To address my particular weirdo situation, I was able to connect my Jawbone bluetooth headset's USB charger into the Female USB connector included with the Bundle, but CallPod also sells a specific Jawbone connector just for the ChargePod.
Does the solution work? Yes indeedy -- the voltages are all regulated by the saucer, and everything -- my BlackBerry 8820, the Jawbone, the Garmin Nuvi and my MP3 player was charged with just one plug. The only complaint I have about the kit is that the AC adapter is somewhat on the chunky side, and doesn't have retracting prongs, which some of the better cell phone chargers come with. I would like to see in a next generation of the adapter a more modular approach, where the brick and the AC prongs are separated by a cord, as most laptop bricks are these days -- this would prevent fighting over socket real estate in hotel suites and packed conference rooms. (EDIT: Apparently, the ChargePod sold on the web site has an updated AC Adapter which addresses these issues, but what I received for evaluation was older stock from the PR agency). Otherwise, I think the ChargePod is a near ideal solution and I would highly recommend it.
Now, short of crash development on safe magnetic induction technology, I still think connector standardization thru micro-USB is the way the industry should go. Then we can carry micro-USB charger "Squids", with much more simplified electronics, that don't cost an arm and a leg to replace.