We’re always looking for places to charge our iPhones around the office. Usually an iPhone finds its way to the Bose SoundDock, and then the familial iPod touch is left struggling to find a power outlet. The more charging stations throughout the house the better. We jumped at the opportunity to take the Powermat charging system for a spin, because we thought it would be the prime device to solve our problems.
The Powermat isn’t iPhone-specific. You can get a multitude of cases, and connectors so that your devices can make use of the charging power of the Powermat. We took the iPhone 3G model for a spin.
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Being able to drop your iPhone on a charge station and “wirelessly” charge your device not only adds a little bit of cool factor to your life, but it’s also more functional than one would suspect.
I’d suspect that the bigger Powermats would be more useful than the miniature ones that ship with the iPhone cases. Being able to drop your phone on a mat when you enter a room is super handy. If you don’t have a dedicated charging station already, the Powermat eliminates the need to fiddle around for power cords and dongles.
If you don’t have a charging station or dock, need a case, and like to look hip-to-the-jive with your technology, the Powermat provides and delivers on all of those things.
There’s nothing overly flawed about the Powermat, but there are some things we’d like to see in future models. First, the wireless charging device requires the use of an iPhone case, which isn’t that big of a deal, except when it comes to using the iPhone with a sound dock. There’s no way to connect the iPhone to a dock, without having to take the case off first. I know, it’s a first world problem, but if we’re going to be using this setup on a day-to-day basis, being able to pop our device into the SoundDock in the office is a must.
The second thing that could use some work is the location of the “charge-point” on the device. As it is, the case and the dock need to be lined up exactly to charge the device. I shouldn’t have to worry if I’ve lined up the case and the dock properly to get a charge. The device is far from “wireless.” Instead of being tethered to a wire, your phone has to make magnetic contact with the receiver before the charging begins.
The charging station is pretty cool, and where the magic happens. It’s well built, and does what it says on the box. But, how cool would it be if you could get a system made to custom fit a coffee table surface? I’d spend money on that, and I’m sure a lot of other geeks would as well. It’s a ridiculous request, but it could be the future.
It’s hard not to walk away from this product feeling like you’ve played with a proof of concept. That classification is unfair. The product is well designed like we’d expect it to be, but we have a hard time figuring out how this fits into our current setup. Like we mentioned off the top, if you’re looking for an iPhone case and charging station, this case would meet your needs. But, if you use your phone on a music dock at all, it becomes pretty annoying having to take the case off every time you want to plug it in. There are a few docks on the market that solve this problem through bluetooth streaming, and AirPlay might also eliminate this problem, but as it stands, I have neither of those things on my iPhone 3G.