2012 really was the year of the wireless charging pad. These chargers are pads that you can charge any device with simply by placing a device on the pad. It eliminates the need for fussy wires, cords and plugs and the need to charge each gadget separately. No wonder then that the concept has become popular with gadget owners across the world. There are a few brands out on the market. Although there is not a huge choice right now between brands because designs are patented the major names out there right now are Powermat, DuracellMyGrid, Belkin Conserve Valet, WildCharge and the Energizer Inductive Charger. Energizer, who makes the Energizer Inductive Charger, and Powermat are currently the two leading brands in the US.
Comparing these chargers is not hard to do. All of them retail at about the same price which is currently at around $40 for a basic design. Basic designs of the wireless pad chargers were released in 2009 by Powermat, which has since been improved upon. Belkin released a basic charger pad in 2010 and Energizer released theirs in 2011. If you are looking for a wireless charger pad at a very reasonable price then these all could be options for you. Despite their early release dates and the subsequent release of superior models they still retail and are all on the market.
The Powermat Home and Office comes in a sleek matte black design that would honestly look good anywhere in the office or at home. It has four charging positions for charging all your gadgets on at the same time if need be. Three of the charging positions are wireless and one is a USB cable connector charger. The secret is the Universal Powercube Receiver, with eight interchangeable tips for charging all types of devices, from Sony PSP, Apple, LG, Samsung, Mini and Micro USB, Nintendo DS Lite and DSi. Custom receivers are also available for purchase so you do not have to remove chargers to replace them with new ones. Unique lighting and sounds come with this device. A sound comes on when the device is charging and a connection has been made with the pad. A light on shows you the devices are indeed charging and if you remove the device a different kind of sound will also be made. All these sounds can be customized by you if you so wish.
The basic Powermat design will recognize when any devices are not charged and will immediately start charging them. If the device is fully charged then the Powermat will stop using energy to charge the gadget and will shut down power for that particular device. The mat also folds away, which is useful for travel purposes. The technology behind the Powermat is patented to them and the charging operates by magnetic induction. The charger pad is a neat twelve inches by four and a half inches. There is also a tip storage compartment in the device so you don’t lose any. Remember there may be a need to remove the receiver charger cases, which are not suitable for everyday use. Additional receiver cases may be needed which have to be purchased for an additional cost, which many customers have been lamenting. Thankfully however this product has been improved upon as has the quality level of customer support.
The basic Belkin Conserve Valet with energy-saving USB charging station is another product that retails at the same price. Like the Powermat, it can charge three devices wirelessly and one via a USB cable. The Belkin however has to be plugged into the wall, but has the convenience of replacing what would otherwise be four chargers in four plugs with one cord instead. Like the Powermat, the Belkin will switch off its power supply to any device that is fully charged in order to save energy, which conventional wall chargers do not do. After four and a half hours have passed an integrated timer will shut down the system for energy saving purposes. There are USB cables included in the box which should fit devices with a Mini-B or Micro-B USB charge port. This is different to the receiver case or universal tips system that is used to connect the devices to the charger with the Powermat, although some customers may welcome this difference as no additional purchases will be necessary for receiver cases and using a USB may be seen as simpler and more practical by some. The Belkin Conserve Valet itself has up to four USB ports for charging with on the device itself, with one at the front and three at the side, so you will never be at a loss for charging outlets.
Belkin’s Conserve Products also boast that they are unusually easy to use. As soon as you plug in another device for charging, the product will switch on automatically. There is a start push button if you prefer to use that and then you can have peace of mind that the charger also has an auto-off function. There is also an inner spool for storage and the charging tray is supposedly non-slip so all your devices will stay firmly in place. Conserve products are all designed to be green products in that they help you to reduce energy consumption. Perhaps this product is ultimately an easier to understand and more practical product than the Powermat Home and Office.
Finally, the Energizer Qi-Enabled 3 Position Inductive Charger in black is another contender in a similar price range. However, it only boasts two inductive charger positions instead of three and has an additional USB charger. Again, a light system informs you when your devices are charging. The difference with this product is that it only charges products with embedded Qi technology, or you can use the Energizer Inductive Charging Sleeve to Qi enable a device. The USB cable at the back of the charger will let you charge a device up to 5 watts. Qi technology charges through induction, and as such is seen as one of the most sophisticated and technologically advanced ways to charge devices right now. Rest assured the technology will easily power up iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS/3G and Blackberry Curve 8900 with a Qi enabled sleeve.
Again, like the Belkin the charger pad has to be plugged into the wall to charge with an AC adaptor. The charger is slightly smaller than other products at seven by seven inches. It comes with a limited one year warranty. Some may find the aesthetics of the charger more appealing than the Powermat or Belkin. Currently 80 companies are trying to make sure that Qi technology is integrated into as many electronic devices out there on the market as possible to make it an effective and common charging solution. This applies to big-name gadgets as well as electronic companies producing chips, coils, controllers and other parts to make the technology a success.
Be warned that the Energizer suffered the same problem as the Powermat; Qi technology is not yet integrated into many devices meaning that sleeves have to be bought at an additional cost of around $30, similar to the receiver cases needed to charge with the Powermat. The sleeve needs removing after charging each time and some consumers have remarked on the bulkiness of this design. The devices need to be lined up carefully with the charging marks to work, but once done the device will charge silently, fast and very efficiently.
The Powermat 3X is the most up to date release from Powermat, and retails at about $80. Powermat boasts that the customer support for this product is superior to the last one. Apparently, their support website is comprehensive and they have a telephone line and email support.
The company was the first one to release inductive chargers onto the mass market and although other companies have followed suit, many consumers still trust the Powermat brand as being superior. The use of skins, cases, doors and sleeves to charge different types of devices is still in operation with the Powermat. However, a negative aspect of the charger pad is that it will not charge older, more obscure brands of old mobile phones. The Powercube is still being offered in conjunction with this product to solve this problem, however. The universal tips should fit a micro USB, mini USB, a Sony PSP tip, an Apple connector and lots of others.
The new Powermat has an internal battery, which charges up and then you can take it travelling with you. It has a great maximum power watt outage of 18 watts and this time the power charger has three spaces for wireless charging, similar to last time except that the three charging positions are divided clearly into three squares. The use of magnetic technology means the devices are always aligned perfectly for the best charging. A useful communication between the mat and the receiver through RFID allows the charger pad to know when sufficient power has been given to the device for efficient charging. An auto shut-off system will shut off energy but if the internal battery is low then the charger pad will start charging itself up again if connected to the mains. Again, this Powermat provides a similar lighting system and sound system to indicate charging like the previous product design.
The Powermat 3X is one of the most durable on the market and has some of the best help and support out there for this kind of product. This device should be compatible with all major phone models, but not for more obscure brands of mobile phone. The design is very simple. It is made in a simple grey design which some may find attractive or quite boring. The Energizer Inductive Charger has unfortunately not released a new model of its pad charger. Compared to the Powermat 3x the charger pad scores a little less on compatibility, since it is only compatible with the iPhone 3G/3GS and the Blackberry Curve 8900. There is however a USB charger. The device has also been praised for its durability and there is adequate customer support, with a useful FAQ section online and an option to contact by email or by telephone. Also, another problem with this device is that there is no manufacturer’s warranty. It has a maximum power output of 15 watts.
The next competitor for the mobile pad charger crown is the Duracell myGrid, which is compatible with many devices, apart from the HTC EVO 4G and the Nintendo DS/DSi. It is also suitable for other mobile phones but accessories for charging may have to be bought like glue on power clips which can be awkward to use. The maximum amount of devices that can be charged are four, and the maximum power output is 15 watts. There is no internal battery with this device so it has to be charged from the mains and no full charge shutoff. There is telephone and email support. Duracell is of course a major and respected name in the power industry. The compatibility of this device is actually very good. It will work for almost any device but you need to attach a contact point to the back of devices or you will have to buy a sleeve.
The Duracell Grid does not use sophisticated electromagnetic technology but uses basic inductive charging instead through metal contact points. This means you will have to make sure the devices you want to charge are clipped on correctly to contact points or you may lose charging capabilities. Also a good point to remember is that this charger will not stop charging once devices are fully charged, so remove devices once this happens to avoid wasting unnecessary energy.
The WildCharge pad is a charger pad that comes in at a very reasonable price. However, it is not compatible with many devices and requires glued on clips. Furthermore, there is no full-charge shut off function and there is no internal battery. This product is however by marketed by quite an interesting company which prides itself on being a green energy company which is backed by several green companies. The pad is also known for having a decent support service. However, this pad charger is not compatible with the iPhone 4, the Blackberry Tour, HTC EVO 4G and Motorola Droid X. You can charge four devices on it and its maximum power output is 15 watts.