The new Powermat Home & Office Mat can power your mobile phone without you needing to physically connect your handset to a wall charger. It's not completely wireless, though, and it will set you back about £70.
Hit the mat
As you might expect, the Home & Office Mat's primary element is a thin, black mat shaped like a skateboard. At 311 by 16 by 116mm, it's not exactly portable, but it is lightweight, weighing 281g. The mat is mostly plastic, but a rubber section on its bottom ensures it won't slip around on a table.
In the box you'll find a power cable for connecting the Home & Office Mat to an electrical outlet. At 1.4m, the cable is adequately long and you can wrap it around the base for storage. You'll also get Powermat's Powercube Universal Receiver, which is required for powering a device that doesn't have a dedicated Powermat receiver case available for it. You get a selection of adaptor tips for connecting the Universal Receiver to your phone too.
The Powermat doesn't work without any wires at all. You can't just place a phone on the mat and expect it to zap your handset back to life magically. Rather, you must connect your phone to the Universal Receiver, which you then place on the mat, which is connected to a power socket.
Once you have that concept down, using the Powermat is easy. Three magnetic points on the mat not only deliver power to the Universal Receiver but also hold it securely in place. Then, after placing the Universal Receiver and selecting the correct tip from the seven provided, you can connect your phone. The charging process should begin at once -- a tweet sound will alert you that you've connected the Universal Receiver correctly and a tiny light will shine when your phone begins charging.
Overall, the Home & Office Mat worked fine for us. We charged an iPhone 3G without any issues. The entire charging period was about the same as with a standard plug. We ran into an issue with a Motorola Dext, however. After charging for about 10 minutes, the Home & Office Mat ceased working and the tweet alert started sounding continuously. The alert lasted about 3 minutes, and continued even after we disconnected the phone, unplugged the Home & Office Mat, and plugged it in again. We've alerted the company and are waiting for a response.
You get seven Universal Receiver adaptors in the box. Besides specific tips for Apple, LG, Sony and Samsung products, you'll also find a mini-USB and micro-USB adaptor, as well as tips for the Nintendo DS Lite and DSi. Powermat also includes a carrying case for the tips, although it can hold only three at once.
Besides the Universal Receiver, you can also use receivers crafted specifically for the iPhone 3G, the first-generation iPhone and iPod, and the BlackBerry Bold 9000. The receivers cost extra (between £30 and £35), which means you'll have to spend more than the unit's base price to take advantage of one of the Powermat's better features, which is charging more than one device at a time. On a similar note, you can power a fourth device with a USB cable, but you don't get one in the box.
The technology is innovative and the Powermat Home & Office Mat works just fine, but we're still not completely sold on it. As with the WildCharger Pad, we still don't see the Home & Office Mat as really fulfilling a need. We're happy with our charger that came in the box, and we're not eager to shell out £70 for a product that does what we can already do for free. And, even though it can zap power to up to four devices at once, you're going to need to pay more for the privilege.
Additional editing by Charles Kloet