Review: Kanex DoubleUp Dual USB Charger
As the need to power multiple devices at one time continues to grow, and wall outlets become increasingly crowded, accessories that turn outlets into multiport charging stations can be quite valuable. Today, we're looking at two different takes on the concept: Kanex's DoubleUp Dual USB Charger ($49) and Kensington's AbsolutePower Dual USB Wall Charger ($35). One is stylish and the other is a good value; they both support 2.1-Amp charging from each of their two USB ports, but neither is perfect.
Like most products from Kanex, DoubleUp is a thoughtful accessory that does more than just provide power to your iPad, iPhone, or iPod. It’s a very nicely designed unit measuring 3-3/8” long, 2.5” wide, and an inch thick. The front and back surfaces are glossy black or white plastic, each with a matte grey ring in the center. When not in use, the prongs on the back fold down into the body of the charger.
On the underside, you’ll find a pair of USB ports, side by side. DoubleUp doesn’t come with any cables, so you’ll have to provide your own Dock Connector or Lightning cords. Since each of the ports can put out 2.1A, they’re capable of charging most of Apple’s portable devices at full-speed; only Retina display-equipped third- and fourth-generation iPads will fall a little short than the fastest rate. Each of the ports has a corresponding LED light on the front of the charger, which will switch to green when an iPhone is at 90% charged, or an iPad is at 98%.
AbsolutePower isn’t as nice-looking of a solution as Kanex’s charger. While it’s available in two models, shipping with either a single 30-pin cable or two female to male USB adapters, the version we received did not include either cable bundle. The footprint is smaller than DoubleUp—a black box that’s less tall and wide, but just a bit thicker, not counting the removable prongs. Kensington’s only real element of design is a matte black sequence of lines on the front. The USB ports are stacked vertically rather than horizontally, and unlike DoubleUp, there are no lights to indicate charge status.
What you see is pretty much what you get with both of these units: they both do what they’re supposed to do, with differing levels of style. AbsolutePower doesn’t look like much more than a black box, but the fact that it charges two devices at such a reasonable price is appealing—it’s akin to a considerably more powerful version of Moshi’s Rewind, at a higher price. It’s worthy of our B+ rating and general recommendation. DoubleUp, on the other hand, looks much nicer, and we appreciate the LEDs on the front. Yet the $15 additional price premium is hard to justify for a relatively simple wall charger, particularly since it doesn’t come with any cables. Buoyed by its design and dragged down by its value, Kanex’s charger earns a flat B rating and general recommendation.