Laser recently released a Qi wireless and four-port charging station, and boy do I have some opinions about it.
What Is It?
Named 'The Hills' after its unique design, it is a a multi-functional charger. A big one.
In addition to offering wireless charging to an enabled device, you can also charge up to 4 additional devices simultaneously via 2A outputs.
As the name indicates, it's designed to look like undulating hills. But I personally liken it to a toast rack. Or something from Lovehoney.
Here are the phones the wireless charging currently works with, at the time of writing:
- iPhone: 8, 8 Plus, X.
- Samsung: Galaxy S9, Galaxy S9 Plus, Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 edge, Galaxy Note 7, Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 edge, Galaxy S6 Edge Plus, Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy Note 5 Plus.
- LG Nexus: 7, 6, 5, 4, DIL, G4, G3, LTE2.
- Others: Sony Xperia Z3V, Moto 360 Smart Watch, Moto Droid Max, Nokia Lumia 1520, Nokia Lumia 920, Nokia Lumia 928, HTC 8X, HTC Droid DNA, HTC One M8 Eye, HTC One E9.
It will also charge tablets, smart watches, headphones and the like. Basically most things with a USB cable.
What's Good About It?
If you have a lot of devices that need charging overnight, this is a good solution. Personally, it was nice to have them all in the one place when I woke up. In that respect, it kept me more organised both at home and work. I knew where everything was for once, rather than having to rummage through my Mary Poppins bag or the pile of papers on my desk. In short - I enjoyed it as a storage solution.
I also appreciated that the wireless charging worked with my Samsung S9 case. This may seem like a small thing, but it's a touch of practical convenience that I think people would like. Removing phone cases can be a pain in the butt.
What's Not Good About It?
It's necessary to preface this by saying that this is not a fast charging station - it only offers 5W charging. And I can understand why. Offering fast charging on something that is designed to charge five things at once probably wouldn't be safe.
It works exactly as it's supposed to. And for me, that's the problem.
I'm a tech journalist, so I carry a lot of gadgets around that need charging. The iPad and three of the phones you see in those photos are mine. I originally assumed that charging stations like the Laser Qi are designed for people like me - nerds who need to charge a lot of stuff.
But I also need them to charge quickly. I commute to work and am often out at meetings or events. It's vital that my devices are juiced up and ready to go.
While testing the charging station, I made sure I ran down my devices first. I wanted to see how the wireless charging performed by itself, as well as when other devices were plugged in. I also tested the ports with individual devices and in group charging scenarios. The results were pretty brutal. Wireless charging took an entire work day and wired charging took roughly 4 hours.
Again, it's working like it should be - and it's great if you're not in a hurry or are charging all your gadgets at the end of the night. This is definitely a "It's not you, it's me" situation.
I also found messy cables to be a problem when I had several devices plugged in simultaneously. It wasn't a nice aesthetic and made the station take up more room than it needed to. Sure, this can be easily solved with short cables, but I also don't want to make that investment.
Should You Buy It?
If you have an abundance of devices that need charging, and you don't mind waiting, this could be worth it for you. I can see it being useful for families who have tablets, phones and even fitness trackers that need to be juiced up overnight. And at $89.95, that isn't a bad price.
But if you're like me and live and die by fast charging, you may be better off with something in the 10W or 15W charging range. The few days that I exclusively used the charging station were a battle. I couldn't give one of my many phones a quick top up before heading out the door, and I found myself running the commute gauntlet home with seriously depleted devices on more than one occasion.