[Hardware Review] Power A PowerStand Charger

Sick of your controllers running out of juice? Maybe this will help...
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: July 8, 2010
Sony has done an amazing thing with the PlayStation 3: they've rejected their usual desire for proprietary connectors. From the power cable to the way you hook up controllers to the way you pump out video and audio to your TV or receiver, nearly everything about the system uses off-the-shelf, standardized parts.

There's only one glaring issue with the design of things, however: the USB ports aren't powered when the system is off. It seems like a weird omission; after all, both the 360 and Wii allow this, but one can only suppose that Sony figured with a standard USB mini connection, you'd be able to use the same cable as dozens of other potential pieces of hardware in your house to charge the things. And it's true, I absolutely do, either going with my cell phone charger or just plugging the controller into this laptop I'm writing this review on while playing.

But we do have multiple controllers in the office, and it'd be nice to have everything charged or charging in one go-to place. Enter the Power A PowerStand Charger.

There's honestly not a whole lot to the PowerStand Charger. You'll get the charging base, a couple clip-on charging "docks" for your controllers that are meant to stay on and more or less permanently cover the mini USB port at the top of you DualShocks or SIXAXISes, and a power cable to keep the base juiced up. Simply tug down lightly on the little support arms, slip your controller in there and the soft spring will slowly push the seated controller into the charging port. A blue LED strip will blink to show when things are charging and stay blue when it's fully charged, simple as that.

[Build Quality]
While I initially thought things felt a little cheap, I realized having a bunch of extra plastic just to make a charging base seem "fancier" was probably a dumb move. Once you put it somewhere, that's probably where it's going to stay (mainly because it's tethered to the short-ish power cable and wherever that's plugged in). And, to be honest, it looks good just sitting there. It's a little gaudy, but the angular look of the officially licensed charger actually starts to look downright elegant when two controllers are sipping power from it.

The only real moving part is the little arm cradle that keeps your controllers pressed up against the recessed contacts that feed power to the controllers themselves. These have a "soft touch" mechanism (really just a soft spring) that makes the arms appear to "glide" into position. It's a nice touch, feeling both smooth and steady enough to look neat when you nest your controllers for their weekly lunch.

The snap-on charging pads are low-profile and look nice on a black controller, but clash a little with other colors (such as our white import DualShock 3 from Japanland, though otherwise it works the same regardless of region). There's a bigger issue, though, in that the design of the clips means nothing else can fit into the slot or around the controller if they're made to wrap snugly. Case in point: the official PS3 keypad, which snaps around the middle of the controller but has a passthrough for USB mini cables to be attached. The PowerStand adaptors simply can't fit around the passthrough hole on the keypad, and the keypad's little spring-loaded "claw" can't get all the way around the adaptor to fit snugly. It's a minor issue, but one I felt needed to be mentioned if you do any tapping away with the keypad, as I do.

"Performance" is a bit of a tough judge, honestly. The thing charges, and does so at the same rate as seemingly any other USB power source (read: a couple hours max), but because you can't play with the things while they're being charged, I found I ended up defaulting to either plugging in a USB cable like normal or swapping to the other controller that had finished charging. That's the ideal way to do it, I'm sure, but it's not really an option for those that only have one controller.

[Final Thoughts]
Power A's PowerStand Charger has one purpose: it charges your controllers. It does that with perfect results, but the nature of the way it connects to your controllers means they're easy to slip in/out but lose their USB mini port. If that's something you use regularly, you'll likely want to keep charging the way you normally do, which renders the PowerStand Charger all but worthless. If you don't however, this is a quick, easy, fairly cheap (it's only $30) way to keep your stuff charged.

Verdict: Buy It!