Jeremy Laukkonen is automotive and tech writer for numerous major trade publications as well as the creator of a popular blog and video game startup. A fan of EVs since the early 2000s, he stays up-to-date on the myriad complex systems that power battery electric vehicles.
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Lifewire / Jeremy Laukkonen
Lots of charging options
USB-C offers fast charging on lots of devices
Wireless charger works great
Only three USB ports
Power outlets point straight up
Kind of big for what it does
The Intelli PowerHub is a fairly compact charging station that lets you charge a phone wirelessly while also providing power to a handful of other devices. With three USB ports, two power outlets, and a wireless charging pad, it gives you a lot of options.
IntelliARMOR provided us with a review unit for one of our writers to test. Read on for their full take.
The Intelli PowerHub is a charging station that’s designed to take on multiple tasks at once. It’s built around a wireless charging pad that holds your phone at a convenient angle, but it also includes three USB ports and two AC power outlets for even more flexibility. The idea is that even if your device doesn’t use a standard USB charger or support Qi wireless charging, you can always plug in a proprietary charger using the AC outlets.
Since the PowerHub is billed as a universal device charger, I spent a few weeks with one on my desk to see exactly how well that designation really fits. I used the wireless charger on a daily basis with my trusty Pixel 3, plugged everything from a Nintendo Switch to an M1 MacBook to a vacuum into the USB ports, and leveraged the AC outlets to power an assortment of fans, lights, and other electronics. Aside from a handful of minor design quibbles, the Intelli PowerHub gets the job done quite well.
The Intelli PowerHub is built around an angled Qi charging pad, which is designed to hold a phone at a comfortable 65-degree angle. When viewed head-on, all you see is the charging pad, or your phone, with the Intelli-labeled base underneath. The rest of the device feels like it’s tacked on to the back of this central feature, forming a chunky, angular plastic lump that looks more utilitarian than anything else.
The charging ports are spread out all over the device, with two USB-A ports on one side, the USB-C port on the other side, and the AC power outlets located behind the charging pad. The AC power ports also face directly up, which is fine if you’re plugging in a power adapter, but it ends up feeling awkward when plugging in any device that uses a power cord. Depending on the stiffness of the cord, plugging some devices into these outlets would result in the cord sticking straight up, past the top of my phone, creating a bit of a strange look.
The Intelli PowerHub comes assembled and completely ready to use right out of the box. Setting it up is a simple matter of finding a place for it on your desk or counter, plugging it in, and flipping the power switch on the back.
Your phone will charge automatically when placed on the charging pad if it supports Qi wireless charging, and you can charge other phones or devices by simply plugging in the appropriate USB cable or power adapter. It doesn’t come with any charging cables, so you’ll have to provide those yourself.
The primary feature of the Intelli PowerHub is the wireless charging cradle, and it gets top marks for that. I’ve used wireless chargers in the past that were a little touchy in terms of positioning, and that just isn't an issue here. Every single time I dropped my Pixel 3 on the cradle, I was greeted by the satisfying buzz, tone, and animation that indicates a wireless charging connection.
During experimentation, I was able to nudge my Pixel 3 past the edge of the cradle before breaking the connection, and could successfully establish a connection with the phone significantly off-center.
You don’t even need to perfectly center your phone for the connection to work. During experimentation, I was able to nudge my Pixel 3 past the edge of the cradle before breaking the connection, and could successfully establish a connection with the phone significantly off-center.
Since the USB ports aren’t all on one side, and the power outlets sprout from the back, the ease of use will depend on exactly where you choose to place the charging station. You can’t really push it up against a wall or anything else, as that blocks access to one or two of the USB ports.
Since the USB ports aren’t all on one side, and the power outlets sprout from the back, the ease of use will depend on exactly where you choose to place the charging station.
The fact that the ports are on opposite sides creates a bit of a cable management issue, as you can easily end up with USB cables coming out two different sides of the charger, the main power cable extending from the rear, and two power adapters or cables sticking directly up. I tend to only leave cables connected for as long as it takes to charge a device and then hide them away in a drawer, so this wasn’t a huge issue for me, but I can see cable management being a bit of an annoyance for some users.
This is billed as a universal charging station and fits that bill pretty well, so you get a whole range of charging speeds from this device. The wireless charging pad, USB-A ports, USB-C port, and AC power outlets all different levels of power output to match the needs of different devices, and they all worked quite well.
Starting with the wireless charging pad, Intelli rates its output at 1 or 1.1A and 5, 7.5, or 9V DC, depending on the device you’re trying to charge. That’s pretty good coverage, offering 5, 7.5, or about 10 watts. In practice, my Pixel 3 drew about 1,400mA when charging wirelessly according to an app, and I clocked it at about three and a half hours for a full charge. A number of other wireless chargers I own only provide about a third of that, so I was more than satisfied with that performance.
This is billed as a universal charging station and fits that bill pretty well, so you get a whole range of charging speeds from this device.
Moving on to the USB-A ports, Intelli rates them at 5V DC 2A each. I measured the output voltage to be 5.1V with nothing connected but my tester and then checked to see how much amperage it provided a variety of devices. Using an amp meter, I found that it provided 1.14A to my Nintendo Switch, 1.46A to my Pixel 3, 0.8 watts to my USB vacuum, and 0.44A to a Sharper Image air purifier. Power output did not drop when plugging devices into both USB-A ports at once, indicating that each port is independently capable of putting out its maximum amperage without affecting the other.
While the USB-A ports are limited to 5V and 2A, the USB-C port is rated at 18W 12V DC 1.5A/ 9V DC 2A/5V DC 2.4 A, which is enough to allow fast or rapid charging for a lot of devices. For example, my Pixel 3 flashes the “charging rapidly” message when plugged into this port, just like it does with the fast charger that it originally came with.
Power output did not drop when plugging devices into both USB-A ports at once, indicating that each port is independently capable of putting out its maximum amperage without affecting the other.
As another point of comparison, the port is also capable of powering my M1 MacBook Air, with the MacBook thinking that it’s plugged into the factory power adapter. When plugged into the USB-C port, my M1 MacBook charged fully in a little over three hours.
For devices that don’t charge using USB, or if you just have more than four USB devices to charge at once, the two AC power outlets are capable of a combined 1,000W of output according to Intelli. I plugged in a variety of power adapters, lamps, my desk fan, and everything else I could get my hands on, and everything worked just as expected.
Without any additional adapters, the Intelli PowerHub can charge or power four devices at once: one phone placed on the cradle, two phones or other USB devices plugged into the USB-A ports, and one phone, laptop, or other compatible device plugged into the USB-C port.
Additionally, you can easily power two additional devices by plugging them into the AC power outlets. If you have a USB power adapter that includes several built-in ports, you can easily take that number higher, although that requires additional hardware.
The total AC output of this charging station is limited to 1,000W, each USB-A port can put out 10W, the USB-C port maxes out at 18W, and the Qi charging cradle is capable of putting out up to 10W. That means you can easily charge six or more devices without worrying about one or more not receiving enough power.
With an MSRP of $70 and a street price that’s typically closer to $30-50, the Intelli PowerHub is a little pricey for a wireless charging station, but it’s pretty decent when you consider the good mix of features that the unit comes with, like the inclusion of two AC outlets and the great performance that you get from the charging cradle and USB-C port.
You can find charging cradles that cost about half the price tag of an Intelli PowerHub, but they don’t include any power outlets. You can also find power bricks that provide more AC outlets and USB ports, but typically without the charging cradle or USB-C port. For this unique mix of features, this is a pretty good price.
With an MSRP of $50, eight AC power outlets, six USB-A ports, and a wireless charging pad, the Bestek Wireless Charger Desktop Power Strip provides solid competition to the Intelli PowerHub. It provides more AC outlets, more USB ports, and the MSRP is significantly lower.
While these units have a lot of the same features, they serve slightly different purposes. The Intelli PowerHub is much better suited to desktop use, as it orients your phone at a comfortable 65-degree angle, allowing you to see your notifications at a glance. The charging platform on the Bestek is just the flat surface of the device, making it difficult or impossible to even see if the phone is charging, let alone read notifications, when used in a desktop setting.
The Intelli PowerHub also has another edge in terms of wireless charging: it charges faster. When tested side by side, the PowerHub provided almost three times more power than the Bestek, resulting in a much faster charge.
The Bestek unit is definitely the better option if you have a bunch of devices you need to power at the same time, and it also has a built-in surge protector. However, I find the PowerHub to be the better desktop solution due to the angle of the charging pad and the inclusion of a USB-C port.
Charges all your devices, just not all at the same time.
The Intelli PowerHub is a fantastic charging station with only a handful of minor drawbacks. It works very well as a charging cradle, with a great viewing angle and easy positioning for wireless charging, and the USB-C port is versatile and capable of rapidly charging a lot of devices. Some may end up having trouble with cable management, and the positioning of the AC power outlets is unfortunate if you want to use this charging station in your kitchen or bathroom, but the overall performance of the device speaks for itself.
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