To many of you, one USB car charger is just as good as the next, but if you've ever tried to plug your shiny new iPad or massive screened smartphone into a cheapy charger, odds are you quickly learned how wrong you were.
Not all powered USB ports are created equally. Most USB car chargers output about 0.5A of charging power, which is a massive jump over the original "low load" USB standard of just 0.1A. However, tablets require a bit more juice still than these powered ports can supply. In the case of the iPad, 2.1A is the magic number. Anything below that and a simple recharge becomes an all-day ordeal. (Even then, the tablet will only charge while it's sleeping.) I've seen similar situations with large screened smartphones that ship with "high speed" or "high power" 0.85A chargers. You can charge on less (albeit slowly); you can play on less; but you can't do both.
The Qmadix USB Twin Tablet Charging Kit 4.2 that just landed on my desk has not one, but two, 2.1A (10W) powered USB ports that allow a user to recharge up to two iPads at the same time. If you're not the type to dual wield your tablet, you could also charge an iPad (or other tablet) and fast charge an iPhone (or other a high-end smartphone) simultaneously. The Qmadix 4.2 charger also ships with a dock connector cable (just the one) for connecting an iPad, iPhone, or iPod. Users of Android, BlackBerry, or other devices will need to BYO USB cable.
The unit's twin USB ports feature blue LED illumination, which is cool for styling, but more importantly makes them easy to spot and connect to in a darkened vehicle at night. Additionally, both ports are labeled 2.1A, creating a nice visual cue you can reference when bragging about your massive amperage to passengers.
What's more interesting is that the Qmadix 4.2 isn't much bigger than your average 12-volt to USB adapter, despite the fact that it outputs a little more than eight times the power. The low-ish profile design is nice. However, owners of vehicles with deeply recessed 12-volt outlets may want to take note of the 4.2's double wide design.
At an MSRP of $39.99, the Qmadix Twin Tablet Charging Kit is no mere impulse purchase. That's a lot of money to spend on a car charger, particularly when the market is filled with competitors like the $17.99 Scosche PowerPLUG 2.1A (a charger so low profile that it barely protrudes from the outlet). However many of these competitors also step down to a single 2.1A connection, which could be an issue if, for example, you're trying to power two headrest-mounted iPads from a single rear outlet. However, there are other dual 2.1A chargers on the market and if their prices are any indicator, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Qmadix charger's actual sticker price drop to a lower point shortly after it hits retailers.