Apple

Geek Gifts 2009: Powermat wireless charger

With Powermat, you can finally charge all your techy gadgets in one place. Read Nicole Bremer Nash's review of this much anticipated product.

Want more reviews of tech gadgets and gizmos? Download the PDF of TechRepublic's Geek Gift Guide 2009.

Powermat USA's much anticipated Powermat wireless charging station has arrived in stores just in time for the holidays. Capable of charging up to three electronic devices at a time (plus one via USB power port), the Powermat promises to free up electrical outlets and rid you of cord jumbles.

Product specifications and features

  • Wirelessly charge three electronic devices at one time
  • Charge an additional device via USB
  • Built-in cord management
  • Comes with eight adaptor tips (additional adaptors are available for purchase)
  • Requires both the mat and receivers
  • Charging indicator lights and sounds
  • Indicator lights and sounds adjustment
  • Energy Star level 5: The Powermat is built to use electricity only when it's necessary.
  • Charges iPhone at the same speed as regular iPhone wall charger
  • The Powermat is $99.99; additional receivers run between $29.99 and $39.99.
  • The Powermat is also available in a portable version.

What I like

Powermat basically acts like a power strip, allowing you to have multiple devices safely charging at the same time and using the same outlet. Also, the design allows for a tidier charging area that is clear of loose cords. The adaptor tips make it easy to charge a device, even if you've lost the original charger.

What I don't like

You must use item-specific receivers in order for Powermat to work. The mat comes with one universal receiver and a selection of adaptor tips for most major cell phone manufacturers and Nintendo devices. To fully utilize the mat, you must purchase two more receivers, which will run you about $30 for both. You can buy item-specific receivers, such as a special iPhone 3G receiver case. It is conceivable that you might use the Powermat receiver case as your all-day iPhone case, but it's not very realistic, as it's heavy and too bulky to comfortably fit into a pocket or iPhone belt carrier. It seems easier to use the Apple adaptor and plug into a Powermat universal receiver than to use the specialized iPhone case.

You place the devices in one of three specific port locations on the Powermat. This is easy enough in theory, but you have to pay a little attention - it's not as easy as "drop it down anywhere on the mat" and it charges.

In addition, it isn't as easy to change adaptors as you might think from the ads.

Geek bottom line

I would like to see the Powermat without the three item/specific port limitations. Plus, I think this product is pricey; a good, old-fashioned power strip does pretty much the same thing, though the Powermat eliminates all those cords.

Check out our Powermat wireless device charger photo gallery for a closer look at this geek gift.

Geek gift score (out of 5)

  • Fun factor: *****
  • Geek factor: ***
  • Value: **
  • Overall: ***

About Nicole Nash

Nicole Bremer Nash is Director of Content and Social Media for HuTerra, where she uses SEO and social media to promote charitable organizations in their community-building and fundraising efforts. She enjoys volunteering, arts and crafts, and conduct...

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