Wireless technology has proven itself to be one of the most robust and useful we've seen during the last decade. From remote internet hotspots using Wi-Fi, wireless headsets connecting via Bluetooth and game controllers utilising 2.4 GHz wireless technology, wireless technology has infiltrated the latest consumer electronics to such an extent that “cables” is almost considered a swear word.
Unfortunately this hasn’t filtered down to charging electronic devices. Until now. A new company known as Powermat has introduced a line of products which will charge your mobile devices without the need for physically plugging them in.
The product, simply known as the Powermat, takes the crown as one of the first commercially available wireless charging systems, a technology that has been teased at for years, but never quite making it into consumers hands.
Charging with the Powermat
To use the Powermat charging surface as intended you would need to purchase the special Powermat Receiver sleeve which is then attached permanetly to the back of your mobile device. Currently only certain iPhone, BlackBerry and HTC models can accommodate the sleeve, with support for more on the way.
Charging your device is a breeze and it really is as simple as placing it on top of the Powermat and walking away. Strong magnets embedded in the base of the Powermat also helps nudge your device into exactly the right spot for optimal charging.
If you don't have a Powermat Receiver or one isn't available for the device in question, chances are you'll still be able to charge thanks to the handy Powercube and its ton of adapters. The Powercube lies wirelessly on top of the Powermat, but paradoxically requires you to connect your mobile device to the Powercube, basically replacing one wired system with another.
Three different devices charging on a portable Powermat
The Powermat will let you know whether your device is charging or not by emitting a special sound and turning on a small light whenever it is placed on or removed from the charging surface. The mat can accommodate a total of three devices on its charging surface simultaneously, while a fourth can be added by utilising an extra USB port on the back of the device.
To see how well the Powermat actually charged our devices, we ran a couple of tests and found that the Powermat charging cycle takes about the same time as the standard included charger, even being slightly faster on occasion. Another good thing about the Powermat is that it stops charging your device as soon as it is fully charged, helping extend your batteries' longevity and saving energy at the same time.
The included Power Adapter has also been given some extra thought and supports a wide range of voltages (100 – 240 VAC), enabling users to take it with on international trips. The adapter also meets Energy Star level 5 efficiency requirements and built-in cord management helps keep everything tidy.
Charging a device using the Powercube
How does it work?
The system uses a technology known as magnetic induction to charge your devices wirelessly. This nifty technology can already be found in products such as Oral-B's rechargeable toothbrushes, however it is somewhat more complicated when it comes to the Powermat.
Each Powermat adapter, whether you use the Powermat receiver or Powercube, contains an RFID (radio-frequency identification) chip which is used to communicate with the Powermat charger on how to deliver the exact power requirements of the connected device.
Prospective buyers currently have a choice between a wired home/office or a portable version of the Powermat charging mat. The former is plugged into a wall socket as usual while the latter can charge devices with no wires present at all, although it has to be charged to work in the first place.
Powermat Receiver sleeve for an iPhone
The Powermat is a wireless charging system which can conveniently and quickly charge your mobile devices in a way that can make your day that little bit easier, and damn, it's a very cool technology to use.
At the end of the day though, you'll have to make a relatively major investment to adequately gear yourself up with Powermat. Firstly you'll need to purchase the Powermat charging mat (wired or wireless) as well as the Powermat receiver for your particular handset. Without the actual Powermat receivers the Powermat system does not offer that much of an improvement to current wired charging, while costing a heck of a lot more.
That said the Powermat is a very nice product to own and the little bit of added simplicity, along with that pleasant charging sound, really does put a smile on your face. We're just not sure if it's worth the financial investment.
The Powermat Home/Office mat and the Powermat Portable mat sells for a recommended R799 each. Apple receivers and the Apple dock (for iPods and the like) sells for a recommended R349 each while all BlackBerry receivers are selling for R249 each. The Universal Powercube sells for R349.