Comedian George Carlin once famously said “A house is just a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get… more stuff.” Though he first spoke those words in 1981 he might as well have been saying them today. I know that I’m not alone in this but the collection of gadgets at home has been steadily growing over the years. Now there’s scarcely a plug point left open at any given time of day and there isn’t a single one that doesn’t have a multi-plug adaptor fitted to it. Some of the multiplugs have multiplugs, for goodness sake.
What do you do when there are three smartphones, two tablets and two Kindles that need charging, in addition to the handheld game consoles, various backup battery packs and other goodies that are forced to suckle at Eskom’s irregular teat? If you’re looking to save on space then you grab something like the Alldock, a charging station able to turn a single power outlet into a place for all your stuff. To get charged, that is.
We got to play with both the plastic and bamboo-finished Alldock units for this review and we have to say… the Alldock is well-designed. That’s to be expected in a product that traces its roots back to Germany, where they’re known for their precision. Each unit consists of a base, a lid made up of rows which will support your devices, and then the USB hub. Everything fits perfectly together, with the bamboo Alldock displaying the same adherence to clearance in the lid as the plastic model.
What you bring to the party are the charging cables and the devices you need. The cables are tucked away beneath the lid, connected to the USB hub which distributes power like nectar for phones. The cables are threaded through the lid so that you can just connect your device and then leave it standing, letting everyone’s mobiles neatly charge at once while taking up a single surface. As opposed to all of the surfaces. It does give rise to the whole ‘all your eggs in one basket’ problem – you could make an entire household unhappy by knocking an Alldock off the table – but it’s a space-saver to be sure.
The Alldock really is as simple as all that – a little box that sits on your desk and charges stuff. There are perhaps fewer moving parts than you’d find in the average USB flash drive but that doesn’t change how effective it is to use.
The only real differences that you’ll see in the Alldock range are in the build materials and then the sizes. The medium unit is able to charge four devices at once while the large will take on six phones or tablets and still keep going. And charging is mostly speedy, because the place where they could have skimped is one that they didn’t. The USB hub is as high quality as the construction. And quality should be your consideration when it comes to just about everything.
Sadly, no. The concept of the Alldock isn’t new, even if the brand name is. Having a stand for charging multiple devices has been a hobbyist project for a while, this is just a more professional attempt. And, just as unfortunately, getting a knockoff Alldock is as simple as seeing what the design looks like and then visiting Builder’s Warehouse. And buying a USB hub. South Africans are a resourceful bunch.
The lack of essential status makes the premium price a little difficult to swallow. The medium will set you back around R2,300 and the large Bamboo will cost you about R3,000, according to Alldock SA’s online store. That’s a lot of cash to pay for something that might be ignored soon after purchase and which hasn’t been made by Apple.
The Alldock has come a long way since it spawned as a Kickstarter project, making the jump to its own online store and then arriving in South Africa. It’s been one heck of a journey but now it still has to convince you that you need it. It’s handy to have around but you’re not going to feel like your life is incomplete without one. Its a bit like a piece of decorative furniture in that sense – it may see constant use, and it’s built for it, but you could just as easily find yourself forgetting that this pricey piece of kit exists.