For someone who has a number of electronic gadgets, finding an open outlet to charge them can be a challenge. That is especially true if you have cell phones, bluetooth devices, or other electronics gear that have non-standard charger connections. A trend is underway in the electronics world toward "wireless charging." Wireless charging devices allow you to charge things without having to plug each of them into an outlet. For the last couple of months I have been using a Powermat 2X, which was given to me by the Powermat company. While I am sold on the convenience, I wonder whether consumers are willing to pay for this convenience.
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How It Works
Powermat is a two-part system consisting of a charging mat and a receiver that attaches to each device. Once you have a receiver attached to a device, place the receiver on the mat and the charging begins.
You know a device is charging because of the unique sound the Powermat makes when a connection between the mat and receiver is made. Likewise, a second, similar sound is heard when the device is removed and charging stops. Each access point on the charging mat also has a corresponding light that indicates charging is taking place. When charging is complete, the light shuts off.
To protect the device's battery, and to conserve power, the Powermat automatically shuts off once charging is complete.
Setting up the Powermat is very easy. All I had to do was plug the charging mat into an outlet (the only actual plug you will use) and then attach my devices to receivers. One drawback is, after paying $60 for the 2X charging mat, you still have to buy the receivers. The case receiver that I was given for my iPod touch retails for $40. After putting the iPod touch case on, I found the iPod to be considerably bigger. However, more frustrating was the fact that the dock connector on the bottom was now useless. In the end, I opted not to use the receiver case for my iPod touch, mainly because I prefer the case I already had, which allows me to strap it to my arm while working out. This brings up another point: If you already have a case for your device, you will have to take it off in order to use the case receiver. Furthermore, the case receivers are not meant to be put on and taken off repeatedly. So you have to decide whether you always want to have a receiver attached to your device. Luckily, the case receivers don't look any different than most other cases.
Your other option is to use a Powercube Receiver, which sells for $30. The Powercube has interchangeable tips that are compatible with hundreds of cell phones and other devices. The Universal Powercube Receiver comes with eight tips in all, including mini USB, micro USB, and Apple tips (for use with all iPhones and 3rd generation and newer iPods).
Make Sure Your Device Is Supported
I recently purchased a Pantech Impact cell phone with a unique charger plug that would not accommodate any of the tips I received with my Powermat. Upon doing a Google search, I ran across several companies selling Powermat adapters that would work with my phone. However, upon contacting Powermat directly, I learned that there are currently no tips available for Pantech phones that work with Powermat. So, the lesson here is to contact Powermat directly if you have compatibility questions (there is also compatibility information available at the Powermat website).
I think Powermat is one of the cooler gadgets I have reviewed here. It definitely makes things less cluttered and I find myself being better about keeping all of my electronics charged. The problem I think most consumers will have, however, is with the cost. If you were to buy a Powermat 2X, iPod touch receiver and a Universal Powercube Receiver, you would have spent $130 to keep from having to use more than one outlet. For those not concerned about the price, I think this is a worthwhile investment. For the rest of us, I don't see an overriding benefit to justify the cost.
Powermat 2X wireless charging mat
$59.99 for mat; $29.99 for Universal Powercube receiver (sold separately); $6.49-$8.49 for Powercube tips; $29.99-$39.99 for Apple-, BlackBerry- and Nintendo-compatible receiver enclosures
- Reduces clutter
- High "cool" factor
- Saves power by shutting off once device is fully charged
- Cost of mat and receiver (s) negates "pros" for most consumers
- Case receivers can make devices noticeably bigger/heavier
- Case receivers can render existing docking ports useless
Wayne A. Thorp, CFA, is the author of "Gadget Corner." All reviews are based on firsthand experience of the product or service. No third-party compensation is received for opinions on products, services, websites or topics. However, sometimes the author is not required by the manufacturer or their PR firm to return the product under review. In such instances, it is our policy to convey this within the review. The views and opinions expressed in these reviews are strictly those of the author. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider.