ZUS Smart car finder and USB car charger - the must buy gadget for the summer

zus-charger-eileen-brown-zdnet.png
  • Editors' rating
    8.6 Outstanding
  • $89.97
  • Average user rating

Pros

  • Bi-directional USB ports
  • Light for night operation

Cons

  • Google maps only
  • 'Y' formation cable sockets

If you have ever lost your car in a car park, then buy this nifty little charger and never again worry where you parked your car.

The ZUS device is a car charger with really useful features. It is a smart car finder and USB charger. I was keen to see whether it would really work as promised.

ZUS is a smart car charger and car locator, an all in one device. ZUS is designed in Germany and produced by Nonda, a smart hardware start-up based in Palo Alto, CA. There is a smart charging function so you can charge two devices, up to twice as fast as other car chargers.

It has a lighting system so you can see where the USB sockets are when it is dark.

What I really liked about the charging sockets was that I did not need to fumble around getting the USB lead into the socket. An extra wide charging slot meant that the lead fitted into the socket either way.

Bi-directional USB sockets, that do not require me to check the orientation before inserting a USB cable should really become the de facto standard for USB.

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ZUS claims that its device is the only smart charger that can help you find your car. The app was easy to find on Google Play and quick to install. It is not yet available for iPhone.

The ZUS connected quickly to my Android device using Bluetooth.

When I parked and left the car, the app sat in the background, using phone location services. This means that the ZUS would be fabulous when travelling in other countries .

I usually arrive at an airport, pick up my rental car and during the trip, often forget where I parked the car as it looks like all the rest. As ZUS uses GPS, not data, there are no roaming charges to incur whilst abroad.

ZUS Smart car finder and USB car charger ZDNet
Eileen Brown

When you turn off the ignition in the car the charger signals to the phone app that power has been cut to the charger.

The phone app then logs the current GPS co ordinates.

The app parking time which is useful if you are on a timed parking ticket and have to return to the car before you get a penalty charge.

When I was some distance from the car I checked the app and the distance from the car was accurately shown.

The only feature that did not work for me was an accurate compass bearing indicating which direction I needed to travel to return to the parked car.

That could have been a shortcoming of the phone I was using at the time.

I found that battery drainage was no more than expected when using GPS.

I only initiated the app when I wanted to return to the car and found the battery levels adequate on my phone.

Nonda claim that the ZUS charger is the only charger to meet US military high temperature standard. It will work in temperatures up to 100C /212F.

ZUS Smart car finder and USB car charger ZDNet
Eileen Brown

A cooling system results in 35 percent less device heat output.

The company reckons that this feature will be able to double the lifespan of the ZUS.

One of the niggles I had was the positioning of the USB slots on the device.

The cables come out of the charger in a 'Y' formation which annoyed the neat-freak in me in my compact sports car.

I had no problem in my larger car.

I did not like the lack of flexibility in map options. Google Maps was the only map available to me.

If you have parked your car underground the app will not work.

This is due to the fact that the GPS signal can not reach your phone.

If this happens you are prompted to take a photo with your phone to help you find your car.

A potential workaround for ZUS would be to save the last known GPS location to the phone whilst the car is moving.

An alert could be triggered when the GPS signal is lost which could log the location until the next accurate GPS co ordinates are logged.

All in all, I loved this device.

It found my car every time, logged my parking time and told me which direction to walk in to get to my car.

Charging cables was a joy with the bi-directional USB cable.

No more fumbling around trying to get the cable connected. The ZUS certainly gets my vote.

Topics: Mobility, Google, Hardware, Reviews

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