Gadget of the Week: Powermat Wireless Charging Pad

Gadget of the Week: Powermat Wireless Charging Pad

Website: www.powermat.com/us/home/IMG_7312
Price: $99.99 for either the home or the base station. $29.99 for a receiver for a Blackberry or Nintendo DS receiver. $39.99 for an iPod/iPhone receiver.

Summary: If you have multiple devices and are sick of the clutter of wires, the Powermat can reduce the multiple fire hazards into a single wire. Once the Powermat is set up and a receiver is installed on your device, you can charge your device by simply placing it on top of the Powermat. The device will then charge without any plugs or wires. The Powermats can charge up to three devices at once, seriously freeing up outlets and space. The home version of the Powermat is sleek, stylish and functional. The travel Powermat trades the style for form factor and portability. The Blackberry receivers are built into unobtrusive replacement back battery covers, while the iPod/iPhone receivers are embodied in a full case. If you have only one device, then the Powermat probably isn’t much more than a novelty item. But if you have multiple devices that you charge often, the Powermat can be a useful and stylish addition to your home or office.

IMG_7289UnBoxing and Setup: base stations are simple to set up, they are just plug and play. Similarly, the Blackberry receivers are easy to install, just remove and replace the back battery cover. The iPod/iPhone receivers take a few more seconds to install because they require snapping in a pretty hardcore case, but are nonetheless pretty easy.

Learning Curve: Each Powermat has three charging points where you have to align your receiver in order to begin charging. However, there are magnets set up to give a little pull and guide you to where those points are. Its really fairly simple to find. When the receiver aligns with the charging point, the Powermat makes a cute little charging noise and a white LED shines below the charging gadget. It works right away, but you might get more honed at finding the alignment point over a period of a few days of use.

IMG_7290Home Version: The home version has a silver/gray brushed plastic outer rim and a black brushed plastic charging portion. On the underside is a rubber skin to provide friction so that the powermat will stay in place. Overall it has a solid build quality and a very stylish look that you wouldn’t mind having displayed on your counter or desk.

IMG_7295

Travel Version: The build quality of the travel version of the powermat seems below that of the home version. The plastic seems lighter and weaker than that of the other unit. The whole unit is black, with small black rubber tips underneath for traction. It is made out of three separate charging portions that are connected with two links each. You can fold all three portions for easy transport, as well as kind of modify how many charging ports you have showing during use–kind of like an origami charger. The travel version has the same functionality as the home version, but the flash of the home version is given up for the ability to fold and travel. To make up for the seeming blandness of the travel version, it comes with a cool travel case that holds the adapter and the travel powermat.

IMG_7292Receivers: The powermat only comes with a powerbube. In order to make the powermat a cool and useful addition to the home it has to be able to charge multiple things at a time without wires. So when factoring in the price for your powermat, you should really include the price of two or three receivers as well. The receivers are mainly a 2 inch by 1 inch magnetic inductor that sits near your battery. For devices who back-panel can be removed, the receiver is built into a replacement back. So for the Blackberry, the replacement panel slides on easy and the receiver only adds to the phone’s thickness minimally. But for devices that have a built in non-removable battery *ahem iPhone* the receiver had to be built into a protective case that completely covers the phone, adding significantly to the iPod/iPhone’s size. If you are the type of person to use a protective case anyway, this isn’t an issue at all. But if you like to carry an iPod/iPhone around without any case, then putting on a whole protective case just to charge might be a little much.

IMG_7291PowerCube: A PowerCube is the only receiver included with the purchase of a powermat. The powercube has a receiver so that it can power up when placed on the powermat, and interchangeable plugs so that you can connect the powercube to any device. But, I think the powercube just doesn’t make any sense. The whole product is directed at reducing the clutter of wires. But when using the powercube to charge something, you are once again plugged something into the wall and plugging something into the device. So what are you gaining? It would make more sense to include a free device specific receiver with every order.

State of Technology note: Someone complained to me “this isn’t real wireless charging, there is still a wire in the wall and you still have to put your device onto the pad!” To some extent they are right, the future of wireless charging is being able to have your phone charge when in a 100ft proximity to a wireless power source, without having to place it on a mat that is plugged in. Just picture it, you come home with your phone in your pocket and the phone automatically starts charging–IN YOUR POCKET. But until then, the powermat is a step in the right direction. While the power isn’t transmitted through the air, the powermat takes a single power source and gives power to other devices without having to have a physical wired connection. Progress.

Final Verdict: When calculating the full price of the powermat setup, you should include the base and three receivers (probably two phones and an iPod)–$199.96. Whether you are buying this for yourself or starting a wish list for the holiday season, the powermat is a pricey but fair investment to make life wire and hassle free. My wife and I have both been using it for a few weeks now and it has definitely freed up outlet space (we only have two outlets in the bedroom), reduced dangly wires, and encouraged us to charge our devices more often because it feels so much easier. When choosing between the two version I would stick with the home version. While the travel version works exactly the same and offers some neat compact foldability, I feel like those who are often on the road would just use a plain old plug when traveling and save the wireless charging for home use.

17 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. This is cool but sooo expensive. Really why would anyone want to spend $100 for the mat and $30 per item you want to charge. That’s $130 plus tax!!! I’ll stick with my wall charger and save the money for a new Blackberry, iPhone, iPod or whatever…. seriously???

  2. Yeah who is that lazy they can’t plug in a charger to the wall and has that kind of money to blow!

  3. I am not lazy and don’t have money to blow and yet, I did buy the Powermat. The fact that I can now charge 2 mobiles and 2 iPods in one place, with only one wire is worth it. Wwe don’t have enough outlets for all the devices so we have to take turns. Plus, it takes less time to charge than with the original charges.

  4. The dream of walking into your house and having everything in your pockets start charging is a ways off. First that is unfocused power that would have to radiate from a central location and as we know as we double the distance we lose the square of the available power….

    You would need to have some type of major Solar Power source at your house, maybe even wind energy or geothermal/natural gas to provide the power needed to make your whole house a charging zone.

    Don’t expect any major changed beyond this for years. this makes fumbing in the dark to plug in your phone a thing of the past, know you you can walk in and set your phone down and no more (did I forget to plug in my phone) worries. This is as close to wireless as you and me will see in some time….

    • If anyone remembers Nikola Tesla. His Coil would have kept everything powered up no matter where you were. Just a matter of electrifying the atmosphere. The Tesla Effect! LOL What would be the bother of a little static electricity. This product just isn’t feasible at the moment for me. I have enough outlets to charge my devices

  5. This is simply not an economical, practical solution for the average person that owns an iPod and a Blackberry, and obviously not at all if you only own one device. You’re out $170 right out of the gate if you own one of each device, simply for the luxury of not having to use a 2nd wire and/or a 2nd outlet (Ever heard of a power strip Ryan? $5).

    You still have to plug an adapter into your device when you want to charge it, you can’t just walk in and set it down and have it start charging. So, the only difference is that there isn’t a little thin wire attached to that adapter that you’re plugging into your phone, and IF you’re using 2 different devices you can cut the number of wires you have to deal with by 1 (wooo). But then again, you now have a bulky pad taking up a lot of counter/desk room, radiating a lot of electrical energy which may or may not be harmful over an extended period of time. It just simply isn’t practical from any standpoint.

    Now, if you could charge ANY device with this, AND if it didn’t require ANY adapters for each of the devices, AND if/when the price of the charging station comes down, it would be a completely different story. If manufacturers can standardize on a wireless charging standard, and start integrating it into all new mobile and entertainment devices for a very small increase in the overall device cost, then I can see it revolutionizing the way we charge our devices. I have no doubt something along these lines will happen in the next 3-5 years, but this first stab just doesn’t deliver for the average user.

  6. Can you ONLY charge the iPhone, DSi and DS Lite, and the Blackberry on this, or can you also charge Sidekick’s because I was going to get one, but if you can’t charge Sidekick’s with them nevermind.

  7. (Ashton) yeah u can charge anything apparently,u just have to attach some sort of magnet to the back of ur phone (they used iPhones as an example). Itd just be bulky

  8. Good idea, but the advertising is misleading. If you buy just the Powermat, you don’t gain anything, because in order to charge a device you have to use the included “Powercube,” which only allows you to charge one device at a time (so you are using one plug and two wires for one device — far from “wireless”). For the Powermat to make any sense at all, you will have to buy at least two separate device adapters at additional cost. Also, for the advertised “wireless” claim to be true, at least one device adapter should be included in the Powermat box.

  9. This would be a good idea if you didn’t need to buy separate attachments for everything you wanted to use it with….you’d think one of the cell phone companies came up with this charger. It will probably be great in 5-10 years when the technology actually becomes convenient, but there seems to be a lot of drawbacks to the new mats between the reports of it damaging your batteries power supply and the fact that it’s expensive compared to a $10-$20 wall unit.

  10. …I need the iphone to charge while I talk, text, and use apps at the same time…cant do any of that if I have to leave it in the mat. I would use it for my ipod but why would I buy it just for that…I prefer to charge it with the computer.

  11. Im just waiting till they have battery powerd cars and use these pads on the roads to keep them going…hmmm….DAM IM GOOD!!!!! :)

  12. Yeah I thought about the road thing but it would take lots of energy (or solar panels) but gas brings in major taxes so y would they? Ps when I get the cash ima buy one cause my dog always chews off the usb and I’ve bought tons of chargers (he won’t chew up the wires)

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