Last week you may have noticed that the site slowed down slightly. Lily and I were on holiday and one our many bags was a tech bag. A day or so into the holiday I stopped to count how many individual USB, microUSB or Lightning chargers we were travelling with – six! While on the road this situation is difficult to avoid but at home, there is an answer – a dock. The Alldock’s tagline is “Battery Charging with a New Look” and that’s a pretty good description of what it does.
The Alldock is available in three sizes and a number of materials but essentially consists of a box which contains a charger – you provide your own cables. In the top of the box are slots that let you plug in your devices keeping all the cables hidden inside the box. While charging the devices stand up and can display information on their screens and be used as a stand or they can just charge. The overall effect is both pretty and practical – all of your devices easy to get to and arrayed in front of you. We’ve had a chance to play with the smallest version which has two slots – each slot is able to handle two phones or one tablet and 4 USB charging points. The medium version has 4 slots and 4 charge points and the large has 5 slots and 6 charge points.
The Alldock comes with a powered hub inside it with a row of four USB ports but no cables. This is partially a cost-saving measure but more to add flexibility. I have an Apple iPad, an Android Hudl, a HTC One and a camera that I charge with my Alldock and that means one Lightning port, two microUSB and one miniUSB. The cables can be curled up inside the Alldock leaving just enough sticking out to let me put my devices in or next to it. The Alldock comes with several cable ties to help wrap up the cables but its perfectly possible to roll up the cables without them and I’d recommend doing so at least until you settle on the devices which you want to use in it. With the Alldock I have a single box on my desk with a single cable leading to it. The alternative would be cables and chargers everywhere.
The hub hidden inside the Alldock can put out up to 9600mAh at 2.4 Amps per socket. That’s a lot of power – traditional wall chargers run at around 1.2 Amps and Fast Chargers like the one the Galaxy S6 is bundled with put out around 2.1 Amps. How much you get out of it is going to be device dependent to a large degree and older devices will get slower charges but 2015 and most 2014 devices will charge very fast. I’ve had my HTC One M8 charge from around 18% to near full in less than an hour and that’s happened across most of my devices.
About Dittrich California Inc
The Alldock is manufactured and made by Dittrich California Inc. The company was formed to create the Alldock and brought together several Silicon Valley personalities with both German and Austrian designers. They launched the Alldock with a successful Kickstarter and are currently developing the second and third generations of the Alldock.
RRP: From 79 Euros (£57) for the small version up to 199 Euros (£144) for the 6 slot large Walnut.
Retailer: Directly from Alldock or via Amazon
The Alldocks do not come with USB charge cables so you will need to provide your own. I found most of mine were too long to be ideal and purchased an Anker multipack of 1 foot long cables which were perfect in length.
Included in the box
The box includes the Alldock, several cable ties and a single 1.8 metre long 2 pin power cable.
These specifications are for the small version of the Alldock.
Charger input: AC 110V-240V
Charger output total: DC Max 5v at 9.6amps
Charger output individual: DC Max 5V at 2.4amps
Size: 6 x 22 x 10.5 cm
Cable length: 1.5m
Item Weight: 520 grams
Colour: Black, white or wood.
Materials: Plastic, ABS, Bamboo, Walnut or Oak
Warranty: The Alldock is covered by a 30 day standard return policy and is guaranteed free from defects caused by manufacturer or materials for 2 years in the EU and one year worldwide.
In its marketing, the Alldock describes itself as the Porsche of charging stations. This has a two fold meaning – first that it is fast to charge and second that it is designed and built for a luxury market. There are cheaper ways to get around than a Porche and there are cheaper ways to charge your devices than with an Alldock. Alldock tries to be the best most premium way to charge your devices and aims squarely at the top of the office and home market.
Reuse and repurpose potential
The Alldock is meant more for office and living space utilisation. Most of the marketing pictures show it on desks or in living spaces often being used but it is also viable for use as a nightstand charger. There is one caveat for this – it has a small blue LED internally that cannot be switched off. I found that a folded piece of paper could be put internally between the hub and the lid which blocked the vast majority of the light.
Ease of use
Once you’ve decided on which devices you want to charge where the Alldock is easy to use. The videos show devices just being placed in the slots and charging while it is not quite that simple – you need to hold the cable head that is sticking out of the Alldock, plug this into your device and then settle the tablet or phone into the slot while feeding the charging cable back in. It is not complicated but it is definitely a two-handed manoeuvre.
Once your device it in it feels stable and well held. Even when I was using the Alldock as a stand and actively tapping on the screen the whole unit felt stable and well weighted.
It is accessible to anyone with a visual impairment, including the blind and those who experience visual symptoms, like photophobia (light sensitivity) or colour blindness. Once setup the cable heads can be held in place inside the top tray and can therefore be easier to plug into the tablet or phones. The one exception is the internal blue LED which may bother some people as it cannot be switched off but I found a folded piece of black paper slipped into the right place covered it up extremely well.
It is highly accessible to anyone with a severe hearing impairment, including the deaf and those who experience auditory symptoms, like tinnitus or hyperacusis (sound sensitivity). The Alldock has no built in speakers, microphone or any other type of sound generation and the powered USB hub is totally silent with no hums or whines.
Input and touch
Once setup the Alldock is accessible to anyone with a mild upper body impairment and those who experience symptoms that affect their hands, wrists and shoulders, like a tremor, reduced dexterity and precision or fatigue. It does require the ability to plug a cable into your device and then settle the device into a slot which those with moderate problems will find difficult. I have a tremor in one of my hands and at times where it was stronger, I had problems plugging in.
The Alldock has no controls, readout or adjustments – once setup it’s on and runs until you unplug it.
It is accessible to anyone with a mild or moderate cognitive impairment, including those with a learning disability like dyslexia those who experience cognitive symptoms, like problems with memory, concentration, planning and organization.
Let’s get this out the way at the beginning. The Alldock is not the cheapest way to charge your devices. It’s not even the cheapest integrated dock or the cheapest fast charger. What it is, is a very fast integrated solution for charging your devices that works well as a stand and looks great on your desk or in your house or office.
To get the most out of it you need to have multiple devices that need charging quickly. That might sound unusual but start with a tablet, phone and a camera and you’re already a long way there. I’d recommend it for anyone who spends a lot of time with multiple devices and wants a simple, integrated fast way to charge them. The ability to pick the size and number of devices you can charge and change the material to match your setup are very appealing and the build quality is such that it will last years. Highly recommended.
The review is based on the Classic small version of the Alldock kindly provided by Alldock.