With our inescapable reliance on a range of electronic gadgets, wireless power is certainly a technological Holy Grail. The Powermat inductive charging system isn’t quite there yet, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.
While this device obviously needs to plug into a power point, it effectively eliminates extra wires for up to four devices (three wirelessly, one wired). The obvious benefits of this range from the elimination of wire clutter to no longer needing to hunt out that specific adapter for a certain device. The not-so-obvious benefits of this device range from its energy efficiency to the fact that it can recharge your devices at least as fast as a normal power point. Yep, in some cases it can do it faster!
The devices that the Powermat supports directly right now are the iPhone/iPod Touch, the Nintendo DSi and various models of BlackBerry. The iPhone and DSi require the user to use a skin-like ‘receiver’ cover on the respective device, which then plugs into its usual recharge port. While I commend the effort that has been made to make the receiver for the DSi as unobtrusive as possible, the iPhone’s receiver adds a significant amount of bulk to the device. Even worse, you can no longer dock your iPhone to other devices with the receiver intact. Thankfully, owing to its removable battery, the BlackBerry solution is far less obtrusive and allows you to simply switch out its normal battery with a special Powermat receiver.
The Powermat does support a host of other devices to a lesser degree; you can charge different types of iPod using a wireless docking station that can rest atop the Powermat, and there’s a multi-tap adapter that has jacks for a range of different electronic devices. However, the multi-tap adapter very nearly defeats the purpose of a wireless charging station by, well, reintroducing wires.
Because the Powermat utilises a unique and super-efficient form of inductive charging, it requires a very ‘direct’ connection. Subsequently, finding that ‘sweet spot’ on the mat on which to place your device can sometimes be quite troublesome; it takes getting used to, but it’s far from the ideal solution of simply placing your phone on the mat as you walk past the kitchen counter…
PROS: Versatile, efficient and convenient. Can sometimes recharge devices faster than standard adapters.
CONS: A little fiddly to get some devices charging. Some of the receivers add extra bulk to your devices.
VERDICT: A terrific idea that, unfortunately, hasn’t quite brushed off all of the teething problems just yet. However, the Powermat shows incredible promise and future generations of the technology are destined for greatness should manufacturers get behind it as a standard.