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MEGATech Reviews: Gelid Solutions Zentree Flexible Charging Solution
Looking for a USB charging station for all your portable gadgetry? Want something that doesn't look like a boring black box? Maybe you can find your inner calm with Gelid's Zentree.
Pros
  • 2.4A per USB port
  • Unique 3D array design
  • Universal compatibility
Cons
  • Cheap plastic base
  • No explicit QuickCharge support
  • Cable management when not in use
7.5Overall Score

Life can be pretty stressful. And I don't know about you, but one of the greatest sources of stress for me is seeing that my phone is about to run out of battery. And let's not forget about all those other portable electronicss that need charging too. Touted as a "flexible charging solution" for your home or office, the Zentree by Gelid Solutions acts as a charging dock for up to four devices at the same time. There. Now, you can calm down.

Seeking the Power of Zen

MEGATech Reviews: Gelid Solutions Zentree Flexible Charging Solution

It will strike you right away that the Gelid Zentree certainly doesn't look like any other charging station on the market today. Soft launched as part of an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign earlier this year, the Zentree boasts a unique 3D tree array to allow for more flexible configurations.

The soft silicone rubber nubs are arranged in a grid pattern, letting you place your gadgets almost any way you want. This means that it can more easily accommodate devices of different sizes too, including smartphones, tablets, phablets, smartwaches, or USB power banks. The top is completely removable and necessarily so, as shown above. Like the Gelid Fourza we recently reviewed, the Gelid Zentree also comes with four short ribbon-style micro-USB charging cables.

The mostly hollow plastic base does feel on the cheaper side of things. From a practical standpoint, though, you're likely going to set up this charging station somewhere and never move it again. The base doesn't need to feel especially robust. The rubber feet on the underside help to prevent slipping and sliding too.

Any Way You Want It

MEGATech Reviews: Gelid Solutions Zentree Flexible Charging Solution

Inside the base of the Zentree, you'll find a total of four USB ports. There are two on either side of the center island and this allows you to thread through the ribbon cables when you put the top back on. Each of the four USB ports comes with 2.4A of maximum power for a total power output of 48W. That means you'll have no problem charging more power-hungry devices like an iPad Pro.

All of the ports also come with what Gelid calls its Smart IC technology. The unit will automatically detect the proper current for each device, managing the charging cycles for optimal efficiency, safe charging, and extended battery life. That's good. On the down side, you won't find any explicit support for any of the fast charging standards, like Qualcomm's Quick Charge 3.0.

MEGATech Reviews: Gelid Solutions Zentree Flexible Charging Solution

The top of the Zentree attaches with two spring-loaded clips along one side. These are easily identified by a couple of small textured patches on the silicone top. You release the top the same way, pressing down on the spring-loaded clips like how you might a cabinet door.

Once the USB cables are plugged in and the top is put back in place, it's really up to you how you want to lay out the devices that need charging. All four cables emerge from the top-rear of the Zentree, two through each hole. I have my devices laid out across the charging dock above, but you could just as easily run them in the other orientation so all the cables stay at one end. You could even put them on an angle, though I'm not really sure why you would.

I personally found the shorter pegs, which run all the way around the perimeter of the Zentree, to be too short. The longer pegs, which are found in the middle, are much more reassuring, especially when charging larger devices like tablets or even e-readers. The other challenge is that you still get a bit of a mess of cables when the charging station is not in use. I wonder how difficult (or costly) it would be to integrate retractable USB cables instead.

More Colors on the Way?

MEGATech Reviews: Gelid Solutions Zentree Flexible Charging Solution

For the time being, the Zentree only comes in one basic color combination. The base is a glossy white and the silicone matte is a bright neon green. However, Gelid Solutions has indicated that they are experimenting with other colors, at least for the silicone "trees." Along with the core unit, I was also sent four additional sample sets of the silicone top: white, pink, black and grey.

Given the "tree" naming scheme and the "green" nature of carefully selecting eco-friendly materials, I can see how the green mat makes the most sense for a product like this. The black or the white might allow the Zentree to blend into your environment more, making for a more understated look. I'm personally not a fan of the grey, since it just looks like a dirty white. The pink? I'll leave that up to you to decide.

MEGATechie Zentree of Life or MEGATechie Forest for the Trees?

MEGATech Reviews: Gelid Solutions Zentree Flexible Charging Solution

Products like the Gelid Zentree demonstrate that charging our mobile devices doesn't have to be a boring and mundane activity. They've really gone outside the box, so to speak, with the design here. The flexible configurations coupled with high power output make it a practical solution to a very common problem. But it's not for everyone.

I found the silicone top started to attract dust and lint and fluff over time and this was all very difficult to get out. The way that the silicone "trees" are arranged might also limit how you might arrange your devices and the danging cables can become an eyesore when the charging station is not in use. It's also not the smallest charging dock out there, so be prepared to give up some desk space.

One other concern is the price. The early bird price while the Zentree was seeking funding through an Indiegogo campaign was $30. However, the regular retail price should be $50... if you can find it. The Gelid Solutions Zentree is listed on Amazon, though it is currently unavailable as of this writing. We hope they'll restock soon. Even when they do, I'm not sure I'd spend fifty bucks on this.


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