Charging portable devices has become a real chore these days with the myriad of mobile electronic devices. Whether it is a regular or smart cell phone, iPod, Nintendo DS, or any other portable device, the power cables needed to keep these working on a daily basis can create a cable mess on counter tops. Powermat has come up with a clever and convenient solution offering a new way to charge personal electronic devices using principles of magnetic induction. The concept is similar to the way rechargeable toothbrushes work. However, Powermat's design is much more advanced and includes a proprietary patent-pending technology to safely and effectively provide power to a variety of electronic devices.
The company offers two types of charging mats ($99.99 each) for customers. The Home & Office Mat (shown above) is a fixed platform capable of wirelessly charging up to 3 devices simultaneously. The Portable Mat is similar in functionality and price ($99.99) to the Home & Office Mat, but also offers a compact form factor with its tri-fold design. The Portable Mat also includes a sturdy carrying case with a magnetic latch, making it easy to store the pad and power adapter when traveling. Both mats have the same outer dimensions measuring 5/8" x 12-1/4" x 4-9/16" (HxWxD) when fully extended. They are designed to support up to 3 Powermat-enabled devices simultaneously along with the USB power port. The mats have non-slip bases to keep them from moving around when placed on a smooth surface. The side of both pads include a status light for each of the charging pads. The light illuminates when the pad is charging a device. The audible sound emitted from the pad lets the user know when the alignment is correct for a given receiver placed on the pad. The system works very well and makes placement extremely easy.
Both Powermat products include the Universal Powercube with 8 different types of tips to charge hundreds of different devices. The tips include the Mini USB (default receiver tip), Micro USB, Apple, DS Lite, DSi, LG 1, Samsung 2, and the Sony PSP tip. These tips cover a wide range of products including many phones, Bluetooth® headsets, and some GPS devices. A magnetically stackable box with a slidable cover holds some of the tips (around 4), but not all.
Each mat also includes a highly efficient (Energy Star level 5, 100-240V AC, 50-60Hz) universal switching AC power adapter. This efficient design produces 18VDC at 0.83 A in a lightweight and compact module with a cord that wraps around the body for convenient wire management. The long and narrow body allows it to be place on a power strip without taking up too much space.
On the side of each pad is a set of controls for adjusting the status light level and sound level. Pushing the button cycles between high, low, and off settings. The input power jack supplies the unit with power from the AC adapter. A standard USB power connector (5V@500 mA) is provided for other devices. For devices such as my Blackberry 8830 that do not have a custom receiver, there is no advantage to using the Powercube adapter over the wired USB connection.
Receiver Case for iPhone 3G
Having a custom case for your mobile device is what makes the Powermat system so powerful. There is no need for mating and unmating connectors when using the iPhone 3G ($39.99) receiver case. The iPhone 3G slides into the sleeve from the top and mates to the bottom portion of the Receiver Case. Once seated, the top of the Receiver Case slides onto the iPhone (connecting the two halves of the Receiver Case). The phone is now ready to work with either of the charging mats offered from Powermat. Simply place the iPhone on the mat and it immediately begins to charge the battery. The jacket includes a pass-through micro-USB port that allows syncing the iPhone without removing the case. Also included is a Micro-USB to USB cable. The case provides openings for access to essential functions of the phone. There are even holes provided for the speakers and camera lens.
Receiver Case for iPod
There are so many versions of the iPod available, yet they all use a common interface connector. Rather than making individual receivers for these media players, Powermat has created a universal iPod receiver charger that adjusts the spacing needed for the particular iPod model being used. While the iPod must be docked and undocked from the receiver module, the process is fast and simple. Some may complain that it is not truly wireless in this sense, but it is a good balance since the base unit does not have any wires connected to it. Since the charging pad is likely to be used for other devices that use custom receivers, it provides a common platform for charging these type of devices.
The Powermat design provide both audible and visual confirmation when placing a compatible charging receiver on the mat. This makes it fast and simple to ensure the device is properly placed for optimal charging. There is also a magnetic pull towards the sweet-spot when placing the receiver on the mat target. The user just needs to push the receiver toward the landing position and it snaps into place magnetically. It is a great design that works.
Powermat can change the way you charge your portable devices particularly if you use the custom receiver modules. The low-profile design of these sleeves make them easy to carry while providing the full functionality needed for the charging pads. While some may find them thicker than other non-functional sleeves, it is a compromise since the receiver must contain hardware for the inductive charging electronics and coil.
The real benefit with the Powermat is the ability to charge you favorite portable device without having to connect wires. It is fast, easy, and it works well. The mat is a one time investment, whereas the receivers will need replacing when new products emerge. Creating receivers for all of the new popular mobile devices will prove to be the challenge for the company. Other products such as an inductive car holster/charger might be a nice addition to the Powermat family as well.