RAVPower 30W 3-port USB UK wall charger review

RAVPower 30W 3-port USB wall charger
RAVPower 30W 3-port USB wall charger

The RAVPower RP-PC020 is a 30W 3-port USB wall charger that, as the name suggests, allows up to three devices to charge simultaneously.

Each port offers the same output: DC 5V at a maximum of 2.5A, so it should be suitable for charging anything from the most humble feature phone to a smartphone or tablet; I’ve used mine to charge all three without incident. The built-in iSmart technology adjusts the output automatically so that each device charges quickly and safely.

The charger comes packaged in a small, sturdy white box with a simple and attractive design. It already looks and feels like a quality product.

Opening the box I was greeted by the quick start guide (written in six languages: English, German, French, Spanish, Italian and Japanese) draped over the charger, and a friendly “Hello” written on the cover. I like it already.

Inside the box, the charger was wrapped in a plastic sleeve and nestled between two cardboard arms within the box, offering excellent protection for transit or an accidental drop. The only other item in the box is a small card with details about a free 12-month extended warranty.

The charger itself seems solid: this feels like a quality product. The model I have is encased in hard, shiny white plastic with RAVPower written on one side and iSmart on the other. On the side closest to the floor when plugged into a wall socket is written model name and number, input and output values plus various other health and safety icons. The remaining sides offer the UK 3-pin plug and opposite it three USB type A ports.

When plugged in and switched on the USB ports light up, a light blue/white colour, which makes plugging USB cables into it in the dark a little easier — even if you always try to plug it in the wrong way first… oh for when USB C becomes the standard).

One niggle I have with many computer-related plugs is that when plugged into a multisocket block many plugs are too long and so obscure the socket opposite, reducing the number of available sockets by one. Happily this is not one of them: the body of the charger does not extend beyond the height of the plug meaning that you can always plug in something else opposite. The whole unit is really neat and portable; I wouldn’t think twice about throwing this in my bag and taking it with me — it takes up hardly any space at all.

All in all, I am delighted with this adapter. As I’ve already said, it feels like a quality product, I love that the sockets light up, and that it can handle three cables at once means that I now use this as my primary adapter for my smartphone and tablet, with a spare socket for guests or my children’s Amazon Fire tablets. I would wholeheartedly recommend this adapter.

In the interests of transparency: I was sent this product by RAVPower for review. I am not connected to the company in any way apart from having been a former customer.

Set up a cheap network storage with a USB flash drive and a BT Home Hub 2.0 in 4 steps

This evening I put the finishing touches to my new cheap-and-cheerful network storage: a USB drive attached to my BT Home Hub 2.0 (the shiny, black one).

Step 1: USB drive

The first step was to buy a new USB flash drive. I went for this one from 7DayShop.com. It’s a 32GB USB 2.0 drive and cost me £20.99. Usefully the swivel cap comes off quite easily.

20110610-32gb-usb-drive

(When I tried this out at first I used an old 256 MB flash drive that I had in my Big Boy’s Drawer of Interesting Things™.)

Step 2: BT Home Hub 2.0

Round the back of the BT Home Hub 2.0 is a USB port. They’ve even, conveniently labelled it “USB”. Plug the USB drive into the port.

20110610-bthomehub-rear

(The dust is optional.)

Step 3: Connect with Windows Explorer

Assuming that you’re connected to your BT Home Hub, open a Windows Explorer window and enter the following network address in the address bar: \\BTHUB\Disk_a1 then hit Enter.

20110610-BTHUB-Disk_a1

Step 4: Map a network drive

To save you having to type in the network address every time you can map a network drive to that location.

In Windows 7, open My Computer and click on the “Map network drive” button on the toolbar at the top:

20110610-map-network-drive

A dialog windows will pop-up. Select a drive letter and enter the network address, as before, in the Folder input box:

20110610-map-network-drive-dialog

Then click Finish.

You now have a network drive:

20110610-network-location

Security

I’m going to use mine for backing up a few files and as a useful location for sharing documents between PC and laptop.

I imagine that this isn’t the most secure of solutions, as anyone with access to the network could gain access to the files, if they know the network address, but as a cheap and cheerful way to share files across multiple computers without the other PCs needing to be switched on this is ideal.

Update

Oddly, after a couple of weeks of this working fine I can no longer connect to \\BTHUB\Disk_a1, the PC just tells me that it cannot find the hostname.

It appears that this is not an exact science.

Corsair Flash Voyager

Corsair Flash Voyager
Corsair Flash Voyager

For quite some time my USB drive of choice has been the Corsair Flash Voyager. Its solid rugged rubbery case keeps my data safe and it’s frighteningly fast when it comes to data transfer.  Their GT range is even faster

I started out with a 512MB model, before slowly moving up through the ranks of 1GB, 2GB, 4GB and now I have an 8GB model (7.48GB of usable space).

Right now I have 14,394 files on my 8GB drive, which equals about 6GB … maybe it’s time to upgrade to something bigger.

Amazon UK are now selling a 16GB model for £31.60, and the 16GB GT for £33.95.  That’s an absolute bargain by my standards.  The 32GB model is just over £70; there is even a 64MB model for £155.

A flash purchase

Corsair Flash Voyager 256MB

I’ve just ordered a couple of Corsair Flash Voyager 256MB USB 2.0 flash drives from Savastore; one for me, one for Jane.

Up until now we’ve made do with CD-R discs, or Compact Flash (CF) and Multimedia Cards (MMC) to transfer data between PCs. But a USB flash drive would certainly be more user- and environmentally-friendly. And quicker.

I was clearing out some old (3 months worth) PC magazines the other day and came across a review of 33 USB flash drives in PC Pro (October 2005). It had this to say about the Corsair Flash Voyager 512MB, which was the Labs Winner:

Lightning-fast transfer speeds make this our drive of choice. There’s no security, but the rubber casing makes it waterproof. At £26 for 512MB it’s a bargain, especially considering its ten-year warranty.

Write speed: 9.2 MB/sec
Read speed: 15.3 MB/sec
Bootable: yes
Security: no
Read/Write LED: yes
Score: 6/6

The month before in PC Plus magazine there was a Masterclass article entitled “USB Key Toolkit”. The article advised buying a flash drive of at least 256MB and packing it with tools, just in case your PC should go down and you need to reboot from the flash drive. This works with newer PCs only, as older ones can’t boot to USB devices.

Here is some of their tips:

  • If you ever intend to use the USB flash drive to boot your PC, use the HP USB Disk Storage Format tool to format the flash drive with the FAT file system, rather than the default NTFS file system. (This will also allow you to specify the path of a Windows boot floppy, from which boot sector information can be gleaned and applied to your flash drive.)
  • If you need to store any secure data on your flash drive, e.g. passwords, then create an encrypted virtual partition with an encryption tool.
  • the essential tools they recommend you carry are:
    • Scanner – visual representation of your drives
    • HDDLife – monitors the temperative and capacity of drives.
    • SIW – System Information application
    • Autoruns – shows all the applications that autorun as you boot up Windows.
    • Dustbuster – system cleaner
    • Restoration – undelete application
    • AdAware – anti-spyware
    • Spybot Search & Destroy – anti-spyware
    • avast! – Virus Cleaner
    • Mozilla Firefox – browser (there is a portable version that runs from a USB drive.
    • IZArc – multi-format de-archiving tool
  • Save your hardware drivers and manuals on the drive
  • The latest DirectX, .NET Framework (v.2.0 is out now), Visual Basic runtimes, and internet extensions such as Macromedia Flash.
  • If you have the space (1GB or 2GB flash drive) then consider a CD image of Windows XP, and SP2. If you can then slipstream Windows XP with SP2.
  • Include some piece of ID, on a plain text file, perhaps. And if you travel alot then also take scans of your imporant passport and insurance documents; you never know when that could be useful. Keep it on your TrueCrypt virtual drive to keep it safe.

I can’t wait. I now wish I’d ordered the 1GB drive … but maybe I can work my way up to that.

UPDATE: TrueCrypt was discontinued in 2014 due to security vulnerabilities, so I have replaced the link with an article to alternatives. (Thanks to Sophie Hunt from Comparitech for the heads up.)