Reviews
Hub IT
Sync & Charge Station

By Jorge Figueiredo - January 30th, 2015

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‎As time marches on, more people become wired (or wireless, as the case may be), which means that the number of devices in the average home is increasing. More devices means more charging, which can take up valuable electrical socket space. Couple that with the need for wired data transfers to a computer and, well, port real estate values rise. There is a neat product‎ called the Hub IT Sync & Charge Station that deals with this inflation of need. Created by Eggtronic (Italy), this modular device can accommodate up to 7 wired devices for charging; and if you have a hand-held that conforms to the Qi (pronounced “chee”) standard of charging by induction, it can support that, too!

The Sync & Charge Station is an interesting looking-device. The device measures appoximately 17cm x 17cm x 3.5cm, and with its sloping sides and black piano key finish, it would not look out of place sitting next to your Playstation 4 (or Xbox One for that matter). The unit is relatively light, and is housed in plastic. In the center of three of the sides is an “opening” comprised of a USB 3.0 port and a retractable charging cable. The fourth side is similar, but instead of a USB port, it has a socket for the wall plug adapter and another proprietary data port that plugs into one of your computer’s USB‎ 3.0 ports. ‎The 4 different retractable cables each have a different connector on the end (miniUSB, microUSB, 30-pin, and Lightning) and are part of the starter kit (which costs around $114 CAD). Between all four of the cables, most hand-held electronic device connections are covered for charging (and data-exchange). Other devices (like Nintendo hand-helds and the Playstation Vita, for example), can take advantage of charging by plugging the USB end of their charge cables into one of the three USB 3.0 ports (all 7 USB interfaces are backwards compatible). The Sync & Charge Station plugs into an electrical outlet to manage the power and into a USB 3.0 port on your PC or Mac to manage data.

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Box contents.

‎Opening up the Sync & Charge station (the lid is held in place with tension, so one just need pull on the edges so that the tabs release from the base) reveals a 3×3 array of compartments. Each of these sections is capable of housing one of Eggtronic’s Sync & Charge modules (which cost around $8 each), which plug into the interface within the compartment itself. This allows you to relocate any of the existing modules located at one of the four openings (in case you want to have them in a more convenient configuration; you can also swap out any of them for new modules, so that you can have different interfaces (like all Lightning cables, for instance).

The four sockets adjacent to each opening are USB 3.0 sockets, which means that the retractable cables (25 cm from the opening to the tip of the connector) have some high-speed juicing capability. Similarly, the three USB 3.0 ports (located on three sides just below the retractable cables) are also capable of speeds of up to 5 Gigabits per second (around 640 MBps) each. This is, of course, a theoretical maximum – and it is highly unlikely that any of your current devices will actually hit this speed. The highest transfer rate I saw was around 116 MBps on the average, and that was with a USB 3.0 capable HDD. While this doesn’t come close to the theoretical maximum, it is a lot faster than USB 2.0, and it should be noted that I was doing file transfers on my iPod Touch (retractable cable) and my iPod shuffle (lighting cable plugged into USB 3.0 slot) while this was going on.

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Retractable Lightning cable and USB 3.0 port below.

From a charging standpoint, the Sync & Charge station has its own processor to manage all of the connections, so each of your devices will benefit from being plugged into the Hub IT device. Indeed, at one point I had the following devices plugged in simultaneously: iPod Touch (5G – retractable cable), an LG G2 (USB 3.0 port), a Blackberry Z30 (mircoUSB retractable cable), an iPod Shuffle (USB 3.0 Port) and a pair of Sony Pulse Elite headphones (USB 3.0 port). While I didn’t time each device, they were each charging slightly faster than normal – with my iPod touch going from a complete lack of charge to a full charge in just over 2.5 hours. It is important to note that having this attached to an active computer will actually slow the charge down. Due to the fact that data is sharing the “highway”, the charging capability is diminished.

In reading the documentation, the extra sockets within the Sync & Charge Station are for Power Modules which support Qi charging functionality (for those devices that support it). Simply open up the top of the case and slide the Qi Charging Module into one of these free slots, replace the cover and then lay your Qi-capable device over the spot where you installed the Module. Eggtronic was nice enough to furnish us with one of these modules – however, at the time of this review I have not yet been able to test it as I do not have a device capable of inductive charging.

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Innards.

The gripes that I have with the device are not overly negative. The retractable connectors could be a little bit longer; sure, they get the job done, and are long enough to allow for the placement of a number of devices on or around the device without having to stack them – but a little bit more cable length would be ideal. It would also be a nice touch to be able to have different starter kits, with different retractable cables included (some folks don’t have any Apple devices that use the 30-pin power cord anymore, so it’s a cable that would be wasted on them). This would nullify the need to buy new modules to replace the unnecessary ones ($8 and $10 each).

Overall, this product is pretty amazing and very convenient. It is a nice solid charging station that consolidates a lot of your power needs into a relatively small space. While the initial investment price seems high, buying chargers for all of your devices might end up costing you the same – if not more. Eggtronic has also indicated that they are currently working on a number of other modules behind the scenes – but are keeping tight-lipped about them. I think it would be really neat to have internal batteries so that users could still charge their phones during a blackout. Having an internal flash drive would also be pretty neat!

The Sync & Charge Station is available from Amazon.ca; in the USA you can also grab it from Wal-Mart and Best Buy.

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