With hundreds of millions of iPhones, iPads, and iPod touch models sold (over 400 million as of last June--before the debut of the iPhone 5 and the iPad mini), there's a good chance that if your family owns one iOS device, you own two or three...or four or five. Which means you have myriad cables and chargers strewn about the house. There's got to be a better (read: neater and more convenient) way, right?
A while back, I reviewed Kanex's $149 Sydnee, an accessory that can charge up to four dock-connector devices at once, but that's designed specifically to fast-charge multiple iPads. Though pricey, I found that the Sydnee was convenient, as long as your iPads aren't stored in bulky cases. And because it uses USB cables, the Sydnee works with newer Apple devices that sport Apple's new Lightning connector.
XtremeMac's $150 InCharge X5 takes a different approach. For starters, it can fast-charge up to five iPads. But it also uses a more-traditional dock-cradle design that works equally well for iPhones and iPods. Instead of a slew of wall chargers and USB-to-dock-connector cables, you have a single, space-saving accessory that can handle a family's worth of gadgets. (The InCharge series also includes a $100 3-dock model.)
XtremeMac first advertised the InCharge X5 in early 2012, but the product made its debut only recently. This delay is notable because the InCharge X5 features five 30-pin dock-connector cradles, while Apple's latest devices all use the new Lightning connector. While that may seem like a knock against the X5, it's not necessarily: I suspect that among families and businesses with enough devices to make the X5 appealing, most of those devices still feature the 30-pin dock connector. And the X5 works with newer devices using Apple's adapters (more on that below).
Each of the InCharge X5's dock cradles provides a full 10 watts of power, letting you simultaneously charge any combination of five iPads, iPhones, and iPods. (The power adapter that ships with the fourth-generation iPad provides 12 watts, but the X5 charges this iPad fine--just not quite as fast as with its own power adapter.) Like the Sydnee, the InCharge X5 uses about 0.5 watts of power when no devices are connected.
Slide to fit
At 11.8 inches long, 3.9 inches wide, and 1.5 inches tall (at the top of each dock support), the InCharge X5 is quite a bit more compact than the Sydnee and, because it doesn't use USB cables, quite a bit less cluttered. There's only a single cable connection, in the back, for the included AC adapter--though that adapter uses a sizeable power brick that you'll need to find a place for.
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