In an ongoing effort, I'm looking for recommendations on USB/lightening charging carts that support 30 - 50 iOS devices per cart. I'm not concerned about imaging, since we deploy and manage over the air. Each store has between 10 and 40 iPhones with the possibility to expand up to 100 iPhones per location. We also have 2 - 6 iPads per location (but they don't need to be charged in the same location).
Currently, we deploy up to 4 - 10 port USB chargers: Tripp Lite 10-Port USB Charging Station with Adjustable Storage, 12V 8A 96W per location. My concern is that when we double or triple the quantity of iOS devices, we're going to run into space and organization issues to charge these devices.
These carts would be deployed to 160+ retail locations and I'd prefer a case that can be locked and rolled around to accommodate each location. I'm also in the process of testing Apple's Content Caching via a Mac mini per each location to better manage software updates, but the Mini's would be placed in the server rack for security.
Thanks for any experience and support that you can provide.
We been using a Bretford cart for several years with 40 2nd Gen iPad Airs.
Does not have built-in networking, has 2 20 ports hubs that are daisy chained. Can connect the cart to a Mac via USB.
The only failures we've had since purchase have been the USB Lightning cables.
Very solidly built, rolls very nicely. All 4 wheels can spin on the vertical access, and 2 of them can lock. Makes navigating the cart both easy and interesting challenges.
Charging indicators for each connected device.
Works great, minor complaints-
- Expensive. Compared to other carts with similar functionality, it was on the pricey side.
Found out the hard way very early on that pretty much any Mac you connect to the built in USB hubs will only reliably recognize up to 18 devices. Never remotely close to 40, and unstable at 19 or 20 devices. That meant that everything we did that required a hard connection meant we had to repeat 3 times across different groups of devices. We had to make a change to firmware on the Mac to get it to recognize the 18. YMMV. We've since gone full wireless for pretty much everything except full on rebuilds, so its a non-issue anymore.
(This isn't an issue with the cart so much as the Mac you're using to connect to it, however its also was not documented anywhere that this would be an issue, which was my main complaint to Bretford- Why sell me something with the ability to connect 40 devices if the computer I was connecting couldn't support even half that without making changes to the firmware, and even then still wouldn't connect to all of them. Only after several support calls was I able to find someone who knew exactly what the problem was and why.)
The USB->Lightning cables are are a bit of a weak point. The cables have 90 degree connector on the USB A Side that plug in on the front of the hub, locked in by a bar that spans the width of the cart. Due to frequent plugging and unplugging on the Lightning side we've had to replace nearly half of the cables over about 4 years. Initially we went to Bretford for the first set, which they sent more than we asked for and didn't charge us for any of them, so that was a customer service win, but it took a while to get them.
Eventually we found an aftermarket cable that was adequate and could get faster, but we've actually replaced those more frequently, so we keep a bunch in stock now. We may do a full swap out on them sometime soon just to get to an equal starting point.
They're easy enough to replace, but that doesn't make it easy to diagnose a cable problem when one device refuses to connect or connects erratically.
Thank you for the feedback about the cart and additional information. The issue with the 18 device limit has been around for many years. It's part of an Apple configurator issue, but I would hope that the cart manufacturers would at least acknowledge it. Prior to Apple DEP and then ABM, we were considering using a cart plus Mac mini's with Apple Configurator to enroll, but had heard about these limitations and found enrollment workarounds through Jamf and other MDM's.
Luckily at this time, I'm just interested in charging these devices and keeping them organized when not in use. I've done demo's with the Bretford devices, but again it was a long time ago. I'm also looking at Tripp Lite, Spectrum Industries and Ergotron. Your point about the USB > Lightning cables is good to know and something that I will check during evaluations. Appreciate the help. Todd