Hands on with the nicest wireless charger we've found yet — Nomad walnut Base Station
Nomad has been in the wireless charging game since the start, and they've recently released a new walnut Base Station that looks even better than the original.
The new walnut Hub Edition Base Station is the same as the one we previously reviewed, but with a new walnut exterior. It retains all of the features we were enamored with such as the multiple charging coils and dual USB outputs.
Let's quickly point out a few of the highlights.
On the front is a series of status LEDs to let you know if your devices are charging. One of our favorite little touches is that these LEDs will dim in the dark thanks to an ambient light sensor around back. This stops the lights from blinding you bedside.
The back has a 7.5W USB-A port — which we use for our Apple Watch charging puck — as well as an 18W USB-C port — which we use to charge our iPad. This is a nice combo of ports that are quick and power all our gear from this one hub. Using the new wireless second generation AirPods Charging Case, users can also charge those on top side by side with an iPhone.
It isn't necessary to rehash the entirety of our previous review, so instead, we will focus on the new design and material.
Walnut versus aluminum
The standard version of the Base Station is crafted largely from metal with the leather charging pad in the center. This model swaps out most of that metal for a walnut frame instead.
One of the greatest benefits of using wood is unique grain, particular to every cut. No two of these chargers will ever be precisely the same, and will be uniquely yours. Walnut is a great option as it has a dark tone and Nomad has only minimally treated it to mesh well with the black leather.
We did notice that this charger has less weight to it than the original, due to the lighter density of the wood. This isn't a problem, but we did have it shift around our table more than the metal model.
Walnut covers the whole top — sans the leather portion — and wraps around the sides, including the rear ports. As the Base Station curves to the bottom, the wood ends leaving way for the plastic coverage and rubber feet. You can't see the bottom so we don't mind the trade-off here.
The biggest downside, as we said with the original, is that you still need to use an external Apple Watch charger as one isn't integrated. Nomad did launch a Base Station + Apple Watch model, but it isn't available in the wood finish. Personally, we like the wood, so we prefer to use an external charging puck and the luxurious wood Base Station.
The elephant in the room
Especially with the high price point, people are going to draw natural comparisons to Apple's own AirPower charging mat that is expected to launch very, very soon. There are quite a few differences between the two, and each have their own perks.
The Nomad Base Station can handle four devices at once rather than the three max of AirPower. AirPower also is (likely) limited to 7.5W of wireless output per coil, whereas Nomad can put out 10W on each coil. If you have another device that can handle up to 10W, Nomad has the advantage.
With the added USB outputs, Nomad can charge devices like iPads, of which AirPower has no answer for.
Nomad also has a much more premium finish using natural materials such as leather and walnut. Depending on your style, you may prefer Nomad's design or Apple's clean white look.
AirPower really shines when it comes to iOS integration and placement. There will be no fiddling with precise location of coils, and a device can be set anywhere on the mat and will start charging. When an Apple Watch or AirPods are also set down on the AirPower, the iPhone will spring to life with a simple animation and charging status for each of the devices.
What matters the most, is up to you.
Where to buy
Nomad charges a $25 premium for wood over the metal, bringing it to $124.95. This doesn't make it a cheap charger, but it is arguably the best look one we've come across.
If you want to elevate your wireless charging experience, grab the Nomad Walnut Hub Edition Base Station from their website.