Gadget Spot: Powermat

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Earlier this year, as part of Alive's Consumer Electronics Show coverage, we previewed a new company named Powermat.

Nine months later, the first Powermat products have hit the market. And for those who want to be ecologically sensitive and get rid of a lot of charging cords, the company's first attempt is good news.

Rather than relying on electricity, this gadget uses magnetic induction to charge your phones, iPods and other gadgets. So Powermat consumes only enough electricity to power one charger as it recharges up to three devices simultaneously. And Powermat recharges at the same speed (or faster) than the chargers that came with your devices.

To use Powermat, you need a charging mat and a receiver. Each device you plan on charging needs to be outfitted with a receiver to become "Powermat-enabled."

You can choose between mats designed to be portable (folds down to a bit larger than pocket-size and weighs two-tenths of an ounce) or desktop (12.25 inches wide, weighs 10.3 ounces and doesn't fold). Each mat wirelessly charges up to three gadgets, and both have a USB connector that can charge a fourth product.

Powermats are available for $100 each at Best Buy and Target. Every Powermat comes with one Universal Powercube receiver, which includes eight interchangeable tips - so you can charge popular devices with mini and micro USB charging ports, or the ports you find on most Apple, LG, Samsung, Sony PSP, Nintendo DS and Nintendo DSi gadgets. Additional Universal Powermat receivers are available for $30 apiece.

For more money and a bit more elegance, Powermat offers receivers built into cases specifically designed for an iPhone 3G/3GS or iPod Touch ($40); a charging dock for an iPod or iPhone (first-generation or 2G models, $40); the battery doors for BlackBerry's Bold 9000, Curve or Pearl models ($30); and the back panels for Nintendo DS Lite and DSi gaming systems ($30).

This system is admittedly pricy, but it completely eliminates the tangle of gadget cords. Since a Powermat only uses one outlet for three devices, and is smart enough to stop sending power whenever a device is fully charged, it's "green."

Plus, it's undeniably cool - you just lay your gadget on the mat and it starts charging. And that kind of coolness will make your friends green with envy.

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