Must Have BlackBerry Accessory for Curve and Pearl Users!
This will be one of the most positive accessory reviews you ever read here at CrackBerry.com or anywhere else for that matter. Why? Because you really cannot say anything bad about the BlackBerry Charging Pod. It looks awesome, works as intended and is useful! The charging pod hooks up to the mini USB connector on your existing power supply, be it wall/travel charger or usb cable connected to the computer, and recharges your BlackBerry in style. In addition to charging, it serves double duty as a simple cradle/holder for your device, keeping your BlackBerry upright and minimizing used desktop space during syncing or when just sitting there not in use.
The BlackBerry Charging Pod is available for the both the BlackBerry Curve and BlackBerry Pearl series of smartphones and makes for a much smaller alternative to the extremely popular and powerful BlackBerry Power Station (which can also recharge a spare battery and BlackBerry headset at the same time). The BlackBerry Charging Pod retails for $39.99 at ShopBlackBerry.com (they're only stocking the Pearl right now), but you can pick it up from the ShopCrackBerry.com store for $24.95. Read on for more info and lots of pics!
BlackBerry Charging Pod
Here's the official verbage from the manufacturer's site:
Display, sync, and recharge your BlackBerry smartphone in the office or at home with the help of the BlackBerry desktop Charging Pod. Conveniently position your handheld for speakerphone calls, watching movies, or listening to music - while winding a charger behind the Charging Pod to re-power and/or a data cable to your handheld's USB port for syncing. The charger includes two LED 2-colour indicators - through the BlackBerry logo on the front of the Pod and on its interior - so you can easily determine
whether your smartphone is charging or fully-chargedthat power is being supplied to the charger. Ultimate convenience is complemented by the Charging Pod's chrome design, which skilfully emphasizes the accents on your BlackBerry smartphone.
As for compatibility, the Curve charging pod is compatible with all of the modesl - 8300, 8310, 8320 and I'm sure the 8330 when that hits the market. On the Pearl side, the Pearl version is compatible with all of the BlackBerry Pearl 8100, 8110, 8120, and 8130 devices.
Charging Pod Initial Impressions
The charging pod ships in simple packaging and comes with a single page diagram illustrating how to insert the BlackBerry and micro usb connector into the unit (diagram really not needed - save a tree!). It does not ship with a power connector, so you will have to use your existing travel charger to power the charging unit or USB cable connected to the computer. Some could see that is as a downside, but I don't. I have enough chargers and cables lying around as is, so would rather not pay more to include something I already have.
If you want to charge and sync at the same time, then both cables will be required - the travel charger connected to the charging pod, and the usb cable connected between your computer and the standard synching port mounted on the side of your device.
The charging pod looks cool. It's chromed finish stands out and will compliment your device nomatter what color of BlackBerry you are sporting. I could see RIM offering the charging pod in more colors down the road, but the chrome works well. The charging pod doesn't take up a lot of space - very minimalistic and chique.
The front of the device features the BlackBerry logo as an LED that lights up in white when connected to the power supply. You'll notice in the official verbage above that it says the LED indicator will let you know when your BlackBerry is done charging. This is not the case (and hence why I corrected it) - the LED indicator lights, both viewable from the front and within the interior of the holder, simply indicate that power is coming to the charger. Once you place your BlackBerry into the charging pod, you'll see on your BlackBerry's display that it is now connected and charging. Your BlackBerry's display will also show when your device is fully charged. The LED indicators will always remain white as long as power is supplied to it (whether or not your Berry is inserted, fully charged or dead). I don't believe this is a mistake on RIM's part with the design of the charging pod - just some miswritten verbage. On this type of accessory I wouldn't want the LED to change color once fully charged. The charging pod is where I keep my BlackBerry for the entire day while I'm sitting at the computer - so after an hour of my device sitting in the charging pod, if the LED were to switch colors to a charged state it would make me think I have to remove it from the charging pod, which isn't the case. It's designed to charge your BlackBerry when it needs to be charged, and then act as simply a "holder" after that. It's a good design and works.
There's nothing too exciting about the backside of the charging pod - just a well placed port to insert the power connector. The centralized location is smart - it makes for easy/hidden routing of the cable away from the unit.
My Experiences With The Charging Pod
There's not much to say here - the BlackBerry charging pod works great. I've used it with both a USB cable connected to my computer and the travel charger as the power source, and with either my BlackBerry Curve charges up quickly. The BlackBerry fits relatively loosely in the charging pod, which is ok - it makes it easy to insert and withdraw. If you want to hook up your BlackBerry to your computer via USB and your BlackBerry is already in the charging pod, I'd recommend pulling the BlackBerry out for a moment, inserting your cable into the USB port on the BlackBerry, then placing it back into the cradle.
I've been using the cradle for a few weeks now, but it only took me a few hours to realize this is a Must Have BlackBerry Accessory. It's too bad BlackBerry 8800 series users can't take advantage of this style of charging pod. On the BlackBerry Curve and Pearl, the charging leads (little gold colored tabs) are on the bottom device so it works with a bottom mounted charging leads like the charging pod features. On the 8800 Series, those leads are located on the side of the device, so you'll have to make do with the BlackBerry Power Station for the 8800 series (it's not really making do, the Power Station is an awesome accessory as well!).
Power Station Comparison
As mentioned, Research in Motion's other OEM charging solution is the BlackBerry Power Station, which you can read an indepth review on here. Like the charing pod, the BlackBerry Powerstation is available for the Curve and Pearl, but in this case also for the 8800 series. Prior to receiving the BlackBerry charging pod, I used the BlackBerry Power Station for the Curve which I absolutely love as an accessory.
Looking at the pictures, you can easily see where the two charging solutions differ. In addition to charging just your BlackBerry, the Power Station can also charge an extra battery and the Plantronics/BlackBerry HS-655 Bluetooth headset. This added functionality means the unit is bigger and costs more, but the price difference is justified. Another major difference to the device is support - the BlackBerry Powerstation really encompasses the BlackBerry - with backing behind the device and rails up the side. This holds the BlackBerry very secure. As a desktop companion, it does a superb job - you can actually use your BlackBerry while its in the charger - there is enough to support to and the unit is sturdy enough that you can tap away at the keys, etc. while the unit is charging. In comparison, the charging pod lacks that stability by the nature of its design - you'll always want to remove the BlackBerry from the pod to use it. The Power Station also holds the BlackBerry at slightly shallower (less vertical) angle, which I find makes the BlackBerry's display a bit easier to view while it sits in the cradle.
In the end, I think both the BlackBerry Power Station and BlackBerry Charging Pod are great accessories - which one you choose will be up to your needs and preferences.
The BlackBerry Charging Pod is a must have BlackBerry accessory - Period. The only negative I can really think of is that they don't sell it in packs of two. I'd like to have one by my desk, and another in my bedroom on my nightstand.