Star Trek time -- today we're looking at the inductive future of charging via the PowerMat Home or office Mat [$97.95 - iMore Store link], PowerMat Portable Mat [$97.95 - iMore Store link], PowerMat Receiver Case for iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS [$39.95 - iMore Store link], and PowerMat Universal Power Cube [$29.95 - iMore Store link] for all your other gadgets.
Follow on after the break for our review, photos, videos -- and did I mention we're giving away the full review package?!
I first saw PowerMat when I stopped off at their booth at CES with CrackBerry Kevin, and it was immediately apparent why Dieter and our PreCentral.net friends are such fans of their Touchstones. The idea of just putting a device down and it starting to charge is right out of our collective science-fiction consciousness.
We're not quite Sci-Fi yet, of course, especially since Apple -- unlike Palm -- hasn't built an inductive battery into the iPhone (cue 4th gen iPhone speculation!) but PowerMat brings us a very cool step closer.
The system starts off with the PowerMat proper, which is the base. I tested both the Home and Office and the Portable mats, and they both worked very well. They're almost identical in fact, with three magnetic charging points each, as well as USB, controls for brightness and volume (for the light and sound that indicates a connection for charging -- in case you want to mute them in the bedroom), and the AC connection that gets plugged in. The big difference is that the portable mat can be folded neatly in three, creating a smaller if thicker footprint which is easier to store in a bag for traveling (hence the name portable!).
iPhone Case Receiver
To make it work with the iPhone you need a case that plugs into the iPhone's 30-pin dock connector and has an inductive receiver (big square of metal) on the back. Slide your iPhone, carry it around with you, protected by the hard case, and when you get back to your PowerMat just set it down and it will begin to recharge. It's really as simple as that (okay, you have to make sure you align the magnets but that's very easy to feel and is accompanied by a sound to alert you when it's just right).
You can get cases for a variety of other devices, but if you're a real gadget-geek and have tons more you want to charge, each PowerMat comes with a Universal Power Cube that sits on the PowerMat and offers a Mini-USB tip for you to plug into. There're also adapters for Micro-USB, Sony, Samsung, Nintendo, and a bunch of others, including a standard iPhone and iPod (and eventually iPad?) dock connector. I used them to plug in an iPod touch and Motorola H17 BT headset, but you can really use them to plug in almost anything. It even comes with a matching, handy-dandy holder for all the adapters.
You can also get the Power Cube's separately, and those come with the Mini-USB tip and Micro-USB adapter.
Again, at this point it's a work-around (thanks Apple!) and more of a cable-management system than real sci-fi solution, but frak if it isn't cool. Just one plug and the mat, and you can charge virtually any gadget you own and just smile doing it. If you're a geek, then seriously, this is the geekiest tech around and a must-have just to stick on your coffee table and show off when you drop your iPhone down in front of guests.
So, the give-away! I have all this PowerMat gear sitting here, and while the boxes have been opened and the stuff tested for a few weeks, it's all still in perfect condition. So, TiPb's decided there'd be nothing better to do with it than give it away to a reader! That's right, courtesy of the iMore Store, here's what's included:
- PowerMat Home or office Mat [$97.95 - iMore Store link]
- PowerMat Portable Mat [$97.95 - iMore Store link]
- PowerMat Receiver Case for iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS [$39.95 - iMore Store link]
- PowerMat Universal Power Cube [$29.95 - iMore Store link]
That's $265 worth of review gear, and all you have to do for your chance to get it is head on over to the TiPb iPhone Accessories Forum and let us know what you want to charge with it (in addition to your iPhone, of course!).
Give-away starts now and ends Thursday, Feb. 25 at 12pm PT. US or Canadian shipping address required.
Video and Galleries
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Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.
By Tammy Rogers