gadg-et-oid [gaj-it-oid]


1. having the characteristics or form of a gadget;
resembling a mechanical contrivance or device.

Powermat Wireless Charger Review

As the promise of wireless power draws ever closer to a scary, brain-frying reality the age-old trick of induction is finding its way into more and more consumer devices for the purpose of charging without wires.

The Palm Pre is a notable product which you can get an inductive charging kit for. The kit includes a back cover with inductive charging built right in, simply replace the cover of your Palm Pre and set it upon the Touchstone dock for it to charge “wirelessly”.

Of course, most devices don’t come with such elegant inductive charging add-ons. That’s where Powermat comes in.

The Powermat is an impressively well packaged and very nicely designed solution for providing convenient wireless power. It’s much nicer than the Wildcharge, which opts for alternating conductive strips, and therefore uses a direct electrical connection instead of inductive charging. This essentially means that the Wildcharge is quite ugly and looks a little bit dated. The Powermat, by comparison, has a surface which is only interrupted by the hinges which allow its three sections to be folded in on themselves for storage. Obviously the ideal Power Mat would be naturally flexible, seamless and allow a device to charge no matter where it’s placed on the surface, but the Powermat gets close enough to this dream to be worth considering.

Powermat is a simple 3-pad foldable “mat” which is actually hinged rather than genuinely flexible. Each pad in the mat contains a magnet, ensuring the device to be charged is “snapped” into the optimum position, and each pad is capable of charging one device.

The idea is that you purchase a “skin” for your portable device, which is generally a plastic attachment that wraps around the bottom of your console or phone and allows it to receive power from the Powermat. When it needs charging, you can then simply drop it onto the mat where it will slip into position and begin juicing up. Once it’s done, you can grap it off again. No wires to worry about, making it the ultimate product for the near catatonically lazy.

Powermat gets a little weird, however, when you want to charge a device not actually supported by an add-on. It actually comes with a little receiver and cable arrangement, plus a box of adaptors that let you charge a number of devices with… yes… a cable. I know this doesn’t make sense, but it’s still kind-of cool charging things via induction and it does keep a variety of charging solutions tidily on your desk- both the little plastic box for adaptors and of course the receiver itself are magnetised for easy storage on the mat.

When a live device magnetises onto the PowerMat a little chirp will sound to let you know it’s charging, it’ll also light up an LED on the front. The volume of the chirps can be adjusted with a button on the back between 3 levels, and the brightness of the LEDs can be adjusted in the same way between bright and dim, an excellent consideration!

Even with this weird wired-wireless charging solution, it’s very useful to be able to plug your phone, complete with dangling charge receiver, off the PowerMat and use it briefly.

Ultimately, if inductive charging gives you a technology boner then look no further than the Powermat, it’s well built, well presented and does exactly what it says on the tin.

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009, Gadgets.