“Lose the Cords”
At this day and age, everything has gone wireless. From computer peripherals to your internet connection, we really have this tendency to get rid of the cords that pull us back from clutter. But with all those wireless gadgets floating around, there’s still something that keeps them wired — charging. Yes, all of them still needs a charging unit that you need to plug onto your wall socket and basically your device stays there, while charging of course. It would be nice if you could also charge your devices wirelessly, right? Guess what, Powermat has the right accessory for you with their Portable Mat. Working on the principle of magnetic coupling, the basics behind NFC technology, this allows the wireless transfer of power between two terminals. How does it fare and does it deliver as promised? Stick in for the comprehensive review after the cut.
Unboxing & Presentation
The whole package comes in a black-green matte box with gloss highlights for the product illustration. You can flip front-panel, attached through the rest of the box with velcro, to reveal other details regarding the product like what’s included in the package, and some more marketing placement. Flipping this would also show the actual Portable Mat inside the box as seen through a transparent film.
Opening the side flaps will reveal a sliding cardboard tray where the actual Portable Mat is. You can then remove the top tray and theres another one at the bottom that includes the travel case as well as the Powercube Universal Receiver, the other important component of this package.
Why is this important you may ask? Well, the Powermat Wireless Charging system works by having the mat magnetically induct power to the receivers which in turn are the one connected to the device themselves. Thus, to cater to the multitude of devices out there, the package includes many connectors for the different gadgets that can use the Powermat. And by many we mean 8. This include connectors for the standard Apple iPod/iPhone, Nintendo DSi, Nintendo DS Lite, LG device connector, Micro USB, Mini USB, Sony PSP and a Samsung device connector. This connector system has advantages and disadvantages, but we’ll cover that in the review proper.
Finally, you can’t call this a “Portable” Mat if you can’t bring it anywhere. So they’ve included a travel case that is sealed magnetically in which you can store your folded Portable Mat as well as the diverse tips as long as it fits. Also, inside the travel case is the AC power cord that powers the device. You might be thinking, how come they say that it’s wireless yet it still needs a power cord? We’ll also get into that in the review proper.
- When you place a device on a Powermat Mat, you’ll feel a slight magnetic attraction when the device gets close to a Power Access Point. The pull will guide the device into perfect position for optimal charging.
- The Powermat activation sound will be played when a device is properly positioned and charging begins. The deactivation sound will be played when the device is removed from the Power Access Point.
- Each Power Access Point has a corresponding light indicator that will illuminate when a device is properly positioned and charging begins. The light will turn off when the device is removed from the Power Access Point.
- When a Powermat enabled device is properly positioned on a Powermat Mat, an automatic “handshake” process will take place during which the Powermat Maty will recognize the Powermat Receiver and activate the Powermat Acess Point — ensuring proper power is given to the device.
The Portable Mat itself is made with a matte black finish with green highlights at one side. The plastic itself feels tough as it might be subject to devices dropping onto its surface for charging. In direct contrast, the sides are made of glossy black plastic as well as the individual mat connectors that also act as joints when you fold the mat for storage. The top side has a USB port as well as controls for the light and sound indicators when you place a device for charging. Product logos are placed on the lower right corner of the rightmost mat as well as the back portion of the center mat, as well as the necessary industry standard markings.
The Universal Receiver, on the other hand, is surprisingly white in color as direct contrast to the black motif of the mat. Printed in the front face is a simple Powermat logo in gray and the same industry standard logos at the back. The square-shaped receiver has a pull-out USB connector in which you can attach the included tips for the specific device you’ll be charging. The tips themselves are white as well and is made of the same plastic material. It really helps that they’ve provided names as to what connectors each are. Take into consideration however that the receiver only has 1 connector available despite having 8 tips included. Overall, the package passes the “portable” moniker that they stuck the product with.
- Color: Black
- Charging Positions: 3
- Mat Dimensions: 3.6875″ x 11.875″ x 0.5″
- Input Voltage: 120-240V AC
- Output Current: 0.83A
- Output Voltage: 18VDC
- Standby Current: 0.011A
- Adapter Power: 15 Watts
- Product Weight: 1.4000 lbs.
- Receiver Dimensions: 2.375″ x 2.375″ x 0.34375″
First and foremost let’s see if the Portable Mat does what it says it does. In order to use the mat for charging, plug it onto an AC outlet and there you go, it’s ready to use. Now this is where the receiver comes in. With the various tips included in the package, there’s no to a minimum chance that you can’t charge your device with the mat. Right at the bat, upon placing the receiver on top of the mat, you’ll be given two signals to indicate that the device is already charging. First is an alarm that activates once you put the receiver in the sweet spot of the mat — for the maximum transfer of power. Consequently, they’ve provided a light-up mechanism that remains lit as long as the receiver is placed on the mat. Again a very effective way to determine if charging is in progress.
When it comes to the performance of the Portable Mat when charging, we have to consider that power is transfered through magnetic induction. While it is an effective means of charging, there’s no way that the rate of power transfer would surpass that of direct AC charging. As the charge time vary from one device to another, let’s take a benchmark from a fully drained Apple iPhone 4. Normal charging would take more or less 2 hours to restore the battery of the aforementioned device to full. Using the Portable Mat, it takes around 2 hours 45 minutes to fully charge an iPhone 4. Overall, it would take 20% more time to charge your device using this. Not the greatest but not bad as well, considering all tech in use here.
Aside from being marketed for its wireless charging capabilities, this is also branded as “portable”. Let’s discuss that aspect first. Does it meet this criteria? For starters, it adds to the portable design aesthetic that you can fold the mat in two places, sandwiching them onto a 3-layer pile that you can keep in the travel case. Now for the travel case, it is constructed with a material with the intentions of surviving the rough outdoors which is definitely a plus.
With the device working as a couple (i.e. the Mat and the Receivers), it would be normal to assume that the included travel case would fit the components in, right? In this case, not. You heard that right, the travel case could only carry the mat itself and the power cord. You can try fitting some tips inside to compensate but you can’t definitely place the receiver in. That’s very impractical on Powermat’s part for having made the case not considering that you might want to put the tips or even the included receiver inside.
Still sticking to the receiver end, part of the Powercube Receiver package aside from the receiver itself and the tips is a plastic case that allows you to carry several tips at once. I think it is only fair to assume that with the inclusion of this, you can fit in all the included tips inside… apparently not. Taking the smallest of the tips will allow you to fit 6 of them inside. While it is a little farfetched that you’ll be carrying all 8 tips around as if you have as many gadgets that require the multiple tips, we think that it would have been practical that the included carrying box can fit in all tips. It’s not bad for them not to do that but it will be a plus if they did.
At this point, let’s talk about the practicality of having this kind of wireless charging setup. One advantage would be “centralized charging” — meaning that when you want to charge our device, you have a common spot in which you can do it. No more missing phones or anything since you know where the charging location is. Another is the safety measure of preventing electrical accidents caused by multiple plugs connected to a single outlet. With the Portable Mat, a single terminal can charge a multiple number of devices all at the same time. And given that it is indeed wireless charging, you wouldn’t need those individual chargers anymore.
While there’s no real impracticality with wireless charging, there is for this package. As there are multiple tips included, you can only attach it so a single connector — which in effect limits you to charge one device at a time, or twice if you include the USB connector at the back, but that won’t be a wireless charge. In order to take advantage of the 3 mats provided, you have to purchase additional receivers to connect your device into. If you have an iPhone for example, you can either use the iPod/iPhone tip provided or you could buy the device-specific receiver. Again, we wouldn’t take it against Powermat as this setup would be an effective marketing strategy for the mat-receiver setup.
So how does the PowerMat Portable Mat & Powercube Universal Receiver fare? It is a great concept and it is executed well in our opinion. Although there are some lapses here and there, we’d recommend this product for those gadget-junkies out there that are in posession of multiple devices. We also would like to commend them in trying to cater in to as many device labels as posible. From Apple to Sony to LG to Samsung, name it and drop it to the Portable Mat and see your battery go back to full without the hassles of cables and all. And with the package being sold at a special price of $60 at the time of writing, there’s no better time than today to get one.