I’ve just had occasion to take a look at the NTONPOWER multi USB charging station, a plug-in USB charging hub incorporating a ridged stand in which to rest tablets or phones while they power up. So far, I do quite like what I see.

As occasionally happens, a device manufacturer offered me a review unit of this inexpensive mobile accessory, on the condition that I review it for you. It arrived yesterday, and I set it up this morning.

clutterOne of the problems with my bedroom dresser is that it tends to be a place to accumulate clutter. I had a USB charging hub there already, but there wasn’t any way to keep my devices organized, so they ended up piled up amid the various other random clutter. But the arrival of this new charging station gave me a good excuse to clear some of that away and replace it with something else.

charger stand emptyThe NTONPOWER charging station is simple to set up: simply unbox it and take it out of its protective wrapper, plug the power cord in, and press the power switch to turn it on. You do have to provide your own USB charging cables, but the odds are pretty good you had some of those already. Then it’s just a matter of putting your devices in the stand and plugging them in. (The instructions are fairly clear and easy to understand, for all that English is obviously and amusingly the distant second language of whever wrote them.)

The stand itself is small, and made of rugged plastic that feels quite sturdy. The item description on Amazon plugs it as a good portable charging solution, and I suppose I do have to give it that: it is small and compact, and I imagine it would fit quite handily into a suitcase. But by the same token, it also fits quite handily onto the top of one’s dresser at home.

3 tablets 2 kindlesThe stand features five USB ports which are capable of offering up to 2.4 amps, the power draw that the average tablet needs to charge at full speed. Its 40 watt output permits full-speed charging of two tablets and three phones at the same time—or, presumably, a little slower-than-full-speed charging of five tablet devices at the same time.

I must admit, it is quite nice to have a vertical charging solution for tablets and phones. One of my brothers has a similar vertical charging station for his family’s many mobile devices, and I have been fairly envious of it when I visited him. And it seems to charge my devices up just fine. I haven’t studied how fast it charges them, and it doesn’t mention being compatible with any of the proprietary fast-charging standards various device or charger companies have come up with. But for something like this, it doesn’t really matter. If you’re plugging it in overnight while you sleep, does it matter if it takes a little longer to charge up fully?

There are a couple of features I’m not crazy about. The charger stand niches are a little shallower than I’d like, especially for bigger and heavier tablets. (I’m not sure I’d trust my first-generation thick-and-heavy iPad to it.) It’s a little too easy to bump a tablet right out of the slot accidentally if you’re putting another one in next to it. (And for that reason, I’d advise not putting it too close to the edge of whatever furniture you’re using to hold it, or your tablet could end up on the floor.)

It also means you could end up in a situation where the edge of one tablet bumps the screen of another one, so you might want to use a handkerchief or other item to keep them from touching directly—especially if it’s something like the iPad with a metal backplate. Also, the relative narrowness and shallowness of the niches means that if you keep your device in a thick case, it’s probably not going to fit very well unless you take it out.

Is it worth the $35 Amazon currently wants for it? If you have enough devices that you need to be able to charge five of them at once, then yes, I do think so. I’m not sure I’d pay the $70 that Amazon claims is its standard retail price, but I’m dubious any time I run across a “standard retail price” for something I’ve never seen sold anywhere else. I doubt the charger ever actually has been listed for $70 anywhere. But at $35, it’s a nice gadget for keeping five devices organized as long as you’re careful how you place them. But bear in mind, I got this charger for free, so take my opinion for what it’s worth.

If you do get it, you might also want to invest in some 6″ USB cables, like this set of four for $10. Your existing longer cables will work, but if you’re setting the devices on the stand where you’re plugging them in, going short will mean you don’t have a tangle of over-long cables getting in the way.