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First world problem #183: too many devices, and not enough USB chargers.

There’s just never enough in my family – not the good, high powered chargers anyway (the bulky white Apple one – that’s basically a gold nugget). Some chargers just don’t work at all with certain tablets, and even if I could find enough, I’d need a huge extension cord just to plug them all in. What I need is a single charger that can power all of my devices at once – the rest of the family could them fight it out for the remaining ones.

Bolse is attempting to solve that problem with their newest 7-port, 12-Amp “SmartIC” charger, available for just $35.99 from Amazon. It’s the largest charger I can find on the market – but the Anker 5-port, 8-Amp at $25.99 comes close, also featuring their own branded smart technology dubbed “PowerIQ”. Poweradd has a 6-port, 10-Amp model for the same $25.99 price, but the ports are not optimized and may not charge your devices at full speed.

Do You Really Need 7 Ports?

Two iPads, a Nexus 7, a Kobo e-reader, an iPhone 4, iPhone 5s, an HTC One, some Bluetooth speakers, and a portable battery or two. That’s actually more than nine devices that charge over USB, but I’d settle for charging seven at a time! It’s a constant juggling act – choosing which device deserves juice next. In theory, each device should have it’s own charger – but some aren’t supplied with one, and others just break or go missing. A deficit of suitable high speed USB chargers is a fact of modern life – but it needn’t be.

bolse 7-port charger - all the things plugged in

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There is also the issue of mixing chargers: some devices just refuse to work with different chargers – Android tablets and mobiles in particular.

The Bolse 7-port charger includes a SmartIC detection chip on every port that identifies the devices and adjusts the voltage supplied, ensuring it charges at the maximum speed, perfectly, every time. A lot of generic multi-chargers either don’t provide enough power (slowing the charge), or provide too much (potentially damaging the device). Not so with the Bolse – every device charges as quickly as it should, correctly. It’s great when stuff just works – Bolse is the ultimate all-in-one charger.

bolse 7-port charger - box

Specifications

  • Input: 100-240v
  • Output: 5V at 12 amps / 60W
  • USB ports: 7
  • Cable length: 1.5m

bolse 7-port charger - front

Contents

There’s no fussing around with Bolse products, and I like it. Keep the costs low, and don’t provide anything unnecessary.

  • 1.5m IEC C7 standard power cord
  • 7-port charger
  • Brief instruction book in English and Italian

bolse 7-port charger - contents

A separate warning note is also included to make it explicitly clear that charging seven high current devices simultaneously isn’t possible. If you’re attempting to charge a large number of iPads, for instance, you’ll be limited to five at once. It’s simple arithmetic: the LC128 provides a maximum of 60W, or 12 amps at 5V. A high power device may draw 2.1-2.4 amps. If you do try to overcharge, the indicator LED will flash and you should unplug one or more devices. The warning note stops short of saying precisely what will happen if you don’t – but I assume the overcurrent protection will simply cut out charging to everything, rather than spontaneously combusting. I didn’t experience this in testing, and I doubt you will either since literally no one in the world is rich enough to afford 5 iPads.

bolse 7-port charger - warning

It’s All About The Cables, Too

It’s worth mentioning that the rate at which a device will charge has to do both with the detection chip in the plug socket, and the USB cable too. This isn’t so much of a concern with proprietary Apple cables as you can’t mix and match those (unless you’ve purchased unreliable third party replacements), but since most Android devices charge over a standard micro-USB port, it’s far easier to mix up them up.

bolse 7-port charger - cables cables cables

Unfortunately, not all micro-USB cables are equal: the thickness required to carry just data, for instance, won’t carry enough current to charge some devices at full rate; shorter cables are also better. The general advice is to use the original cable – but unless you’re meticulous at labelling cables, you may need to experiment a little and identify those that are best for charging from your collection of cables.

Safety Concerns

Bolse is a reliable brand name and an extensive set of safety compliance tests have been passed, so I’m confident there are no concerns there. While testing with every device I own, the unit wasn’t even warm to the touch.

One minor note of caution though: the instruction booklet advises that you plug the power cord into the charger unit first, then the wall outlet. This is due to an initial burst of current drawn from the socket, which is safer when done on the plug end than with the internal electronics of the charger.

Living With The Bolse 7-port Charger

Unlike most USB chargers which plug directly into the AC outlet, the Bolse unit is a separate device, powered by a standard 1.5m IEC C7 power cord (the same used on the PlayStation 2 or 3, and many other consumer electronics) – so there is no separate “power brick”. This is a welcome move for a few reasons:

Firstly, it serves to provides 1.5m of additional reach on any USB charging cables you have, resulting in less acrobatics behind the bed or sofa as you scramble around for a socket, and a generally more convenient charging experience. Not only that, but you’ll only need one wall socket.

Secondly, for the purposes of sustainability, it means the cable can be easily replaced should it be damaged by any pets you may have — in my case, chewy dogs and/or ferrets.

Thirdly, it’s perfect for international use: the unit accepts any voltage from 100-240V, and will happily work with either a plug-adapter on the original cable, or a standard cable purchased in the country you’re travelling.

bolse 7-port charger - back AC input

Should You Buy One?

The Bolse 7-port USB charger is the ultimate all-in-one charger: it frees up wall sockets, gives you greater reach, and charges every device at maximum speed regardless of make or model. Even if it saves me just two minutes a day of hunting around for a spare charger for the next years, that adds up to an entire day I’ll get to spend playing video games instead.

MakeUseOf recommends: Buy one – this is an essential item in every modern home.

How Do I Win The Bolse 7-Port USB Charger?

Bolse 7-Port USB Charger

For mobile users, click here to enter.

The winner will be selected at random and informed via email. View the list of winners here.

Send your products to be reviewed. Contact Jackson Chung for further details.

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