26 April, 2014

Anker 5-port 40W Charger 71AN7105

I still like my Innergie mMini AC15, but Innergie's taking too long to come up with new products / new products are too expensive. They now have a 21W, 2-port model, but it costs twice as much as the AC15. The max power per port for both chargers is still the same, so I don't see the point in buying this over 2 AC15s, except you save 1 power point. They also have a 3-port LifeHub that costs 3.7 times as much as the AC15, and it comprises 2 separate boxes - bulky, proprietary cables prone to failure, not for traveling.

There are many other companies now selling 4, 5 or more port chargers. What the AC15 has going for it is it's one of the few UL-certified 2-port chargers. At first I didn't think much of UL certification, expecting it to relate to interference like FCC, or maybe efficiency, or maybe ROHS, but it actually specifies distances and insulation requirements between high-voltage and low-voltage parts of the charger - an important safety consideration. When I searched, I couldn't find any UL-certified chargers with more than 2 ports. I needed an upgrade because I charge 2 smartphones and a Mi-Fi modem daily, and sometimes batteries, a tablet, an iPad, a camera, a 3DS and others.

So I decided to buy this charger from Amazon, mainly because of "PowerIQ" technology, meaning each port emulates the type of charger the device expects, so there are no "Apple" or "Samsung" or "Android" ports. All 5 ports are equivalent. This is much like the AC15. It also costs less than twice as much as the AC15. Anker actually has another cheaper, 25W, 5-port model, which I think has enough power for me, but it:
  • has specific Apple, Samsung and Android ports
  • doesn't mention overvoltage, overcurrent, overheating or short circuit protection like the 71AN7105

I love the packaging. It comes in a space-efficient cardboard box with no tape, plastic or wires to cut. The disadvantage is you can't see if it's been opened. Actually, with Amazon's return policies, I think you can assume everything has been opened.

I actually preferred the white model, but it was out of stock. There are reviews of people saying the black one was out of stock instead. I wonder if I can trade?

I love its design:
  • Compact - fits in palm
  • Regular shape - easy to pack
  • Removable cable - since cables wear out faster than other parts of the device, being able to replace the cable makes the device usable for longer. Also, you can change the cable for other countries. 
  • Of course, it's worldwide voltage compatible (when they say 100-240V, do they mean everything in-between? Like will 150V work?)
One thing to keep an eye on is it's got a rubberised coating. While this prevents slips and scratches, I've seen these coatings become sticky over time (e.g. on the cap of my Nalgene N-Gen bottle).


  • Quiet! Some chargers have a high-pitched buzz.
  • Doesn't seem to get warm, but I haven't really pushed it yet.
  • Compact
  • No proprietary cables
  • No indicator light. Some people like this, but I prefer to tell if it's working.
  • Electric shocks! I need to do some tests to see if it's a matter of source power.
  • May cause erratic touchscreen behaviour - a sign of noisy power
Conclusion: get this if you need to charge lots of things and don't mind mild electric shocks, but if you want the very best, stick to the Innergie mMini AC15 (the 25 W ones are overpriced).

Update 19 Aug 14
Out of the blue, Anker set me an email via Amazon. I guess this shows sellers can keep track of who bought their products, and initiate messages to them? The explained why some people were having individual ports on the charger die, which seems quite common, looking at the Amazon reviews. The reason is each port is protected by a 3A fuse, which cannot be reset or replaced. Improper cables or devices were blowing the fuses. I've never seen this problem. Anyway, the new model has an auto-resetting fuse and they were sending replacements to whoever had this problem. This is great service and initiative! Very impressive, since their products aren't very expensive! I'll buy more Anker products now. Interestingly, the email claimed the charger met the UL certificate requirements, but the certification isn't displayed anywhere on the product, packaging or online. It seems odd not to publicise such an important and desirable feature.

Update 29 Aug 14
The old model had a problem I haven't mentioned - the other tips of wires plugged into it sometimes give electric shocks. This is quite disturbing and sad. A more serious problem, sometimes when charging my iPhone, its screen becomes unresponsive. This is a sign of electrical noise. It looks like the power produced isn't very "clean". I thought it might be my house power, but my Innergie chargers plugged into the same power strip don't have any problems. In fact, this was the main reason I bought my socket tester. Looks like this isn't as good as my Innergie mMini AC15s.

I mentioned this to Anker and they sent me a new one.
Comparison between the 2, old one on top.
Physically, they look exactly the same, only the new one has a box and the PowerIQ logo around the USB ports. The model number, markings and certifications are all the same.

The new one is still giving electric shocks! They don't happen all the time, but most of it. Maybe charge is building up on the tips? Looks like the shocks are a matter of design, not a problem with the old one. Hopefully the touchscreen problem doesn't return.

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