Hands-on with the Powermat wireless charging system for HTC EVO 4G

Summary:Anything that helps me cut the cords in my office is welcome, and the Powermat wireless charging system I am using with the HTC EVO 4G is a real boon.

My home office is buried under so many wires it can be a real chore to figure out which cable goes with which device. Anything that helps me cut cords is welcome, and the Powermat wireless charging system is such a tool. I am using the Powermat system with the HTC EVO 4G, and finding the induction charging system to be a real boon.

The Powermat system as reviewed was purchased as a kit for the EVO 4G smartphone. The kit consists of the Powermat, mobile power cord for the mat, and the replacement back for the EVO that handles the induction charging. Once the back is placed on the EVO and the Powermat is plugged into the outlet, charging is as simple as placing the phone on the mat.

Check out the Powermat wireless charging system in photos


Image Gallery: Powermat wireless charging system for the HTC EVO 4G.
Image Gallery: Charge
Image Gallery: Charge

The mat I have is small and only charges one device at a time. The system uses magnets as guides to make sure the phone is positioned properly on the mat for charging. There are two soft white LED indicator lights embedded in the front corners of the mat that light up as confirmation when the phone is properly charging, and the mat beeps too. It's possible but difficult to set the phone on the mat improperly, but the indicators make it clear when the phone is charging properly. Most phones light up the screen when plugged in as further proof the charging starts. The system is simple and a much more convenient method to charge the EVO, as it eliminates the need to plug in the power cord to the little microUSB port on the phone. I just set the phone on the mat and charging happens.

I purchased the Powermat system at my local Best buy store, and I have seen it for as little as $39.01 at Amazon. This low price gets the whole system, and there are replacement doors available without the mat for an even lower price. This lets you use the mat with other devices as needed and protects the investment in the system. Powermat also sells larger mats that handle multiple devices for those who go all in with the method.

The Powermat phone back adds very little thickness and weight to the EVO compared to the original phone back. It was a simple process of popping the back on the phone and plugging in the little nub at the bottom. This nub connects the Powermat phone back to the microUSB port which is required as the system works with standard phone batteries. I don't find the nub to be inconvenient, but it does eliminate the ability to use a case on the EVO. I don't use cases on my phones so this is not a factor for me.

Careful thought to detail has obviously gone into the design of the Powermat power adapter. This adapter is small enough to be easily carried on trips, and it narrow enough that it doesn't block extra outlets. The cord wraps around the adapter for travel so the entire kit takes up little space in the gear bag.

I originally bought the Powermat system late last year, and had trouble with the little nub plug on the EVO. The Powermat phone back is not really designed to be frequently removed for access to the phone innards, and at the time I was regularly opening the phone to pop in a second battery. I ran into trouble getting the little plug to make proper contact for charging, and I eventually stopped using the Powermat as a result.

My EVO 4G is getting good battery life due to system updates, and I haven't needed to swap batteries in a while so a week ago I decided to give the Powermat another try. It has worked perfectly and has earned a permanent spot on my desk for charging the phone. There are other wireless charging solutions available, such as the Energizer Qi system, but the Powermat is meeting my needs and much cheaper.

With most smartphones now offering wireless syncing, wireless charging is a logical step. Even Apple is cutting the PC cord with the iPhone in iOS 5, so wireless charging will even work with those. The Powermat system is available for many Android, Blackberry phones and iPhones.

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Topics: Hardware, HTC, Mobility, Networking, Wi-Fi

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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