Bestek Wall Charger
Best gadget charger for travelers
The Bestek MRJ1870-1 wall charging station provides the best bang-for-the-buck in its class I’ve seen yet. Most travel chargers are inadequate for contemporary, gadget-laden needs. Compare it with another $20 charger I bought before getting the Bestek: the Belkin BST300. It has 3 power outlets and two USB ports. The catch is that USB ports share 2.1A, which can’t be relied on to simultaneously charge both an iPad-sized tablet and a second device. I actually couldn’t even charge a single iPad (4th-gen) alone on the ill-equipped Belkin charger.
Woefully disappointed, I ended up buying the beast o’ Bestek, which comes with 6 power outlets split across two sides, 4 USB connectors (2 with 2.1A for hungrier devices and 2 with 1A), and even an old-school 30-pin connector in the top center for earlier Apple iPhones, iPods and the like (no word on if there’ll be a Lightning version yet; meanwhile, you can use an adapter). Having all these ports is practical if you’re a gadget enthusiast — or are traveling with family and/or friends with multiple laptops, tablets, hotspots, and so on.
But wait, as an infomercial tends to say, there’s more: there are separate status lights that show if power is actually being supplied to both the 3-prong and USB outlets, and a night light at the bottom (press it twice for brighter light, a third time to turn off).
While physically imposing and bulky (4.25″ x 6″ x 1.5″) compared to mini travel chargers, the design is compact for what it offers, versus a conventional power strip.
Despite my praise, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a couple of concerns. First, due to its size, the Bestek blocks two wall outlets. It actually has a screw to perma-attach it if you’d like it to serve as a home hub, rather than a travel charger. Second, a plastic post extends from the Bestek into the ground receptacle of the lower outlet (seemingly for wall-fit stability; I haven’t researched the ramifications of snipping it off), which startled me with a spark of electricity and smoke upon first insertion. While uncommon, I’ve noticed a couple of poor reviews of a similar, breaker-tripping nature. So far, I’ve had no problems upon reinserting the Bestek into that or subsequent outlets in the month I’ve been extensively using it. Also, note that even with the USB ports, you may experience faster charging with certain devices’ own AC adapter, like the iPad 4’s 12W / 2.4A charger, which is where more power outlets comes in handy.
If you’d prefer the Bestek to not hog the wall, I suggest a 1-ft. extender — like Ziotek’s Power Strip Liberator, which comes in a 5-pack — although this obviously sacrifices the Bestek’s vertical stability. However, if you need full access to the Bestek’s 6 power outlets, you can use the remaining Liberators to assure that there are no AC adapter blockages whatsoever. Not quite as fine a pairing as wine and cheese, but as you happily rest and recharge, so will your plugged-in cool tools.01/28/13
(People on Amazon have reported fires from this. -- Mark — editors)