Powermat Wireless Charger Arrives In UK

Peter Judge has been involved with tech B2B publishing in the UK for many years, working at Ziff-Davis, ZDNet, IDG and Reed. His main interests are networking security, mobility and cloud

A wireless charging system has arrived in the UK – but questions have been raised as to its value compared with a proposed standard

The Powermat wireless charger has arrived in the UK – along with questions about its value alongside a proposed standard for charging gadgets without wires.

Powermat plugs into the mains and provides a flat surface on which mobile devices can be charged without wires – by induction – as long as they have the necessary Powermat adapter.

Wireless charging has been pitched as a way to add convenience to gadgets, but so far, no scheme has got a critical mass – adopted in gadgets as well as available in power delivery systems. A group of vendors, inlcuding Samsung, Sanyo and Philips, has got together to produce a proposed standard called Qi – but Powermat is going it alone with its own system, a situation which has led to it being hailed as the “Betamax of wireless chargers”

.Meanwhile, the Palm Pre has an optional wireless charging system called the Touchstone and a more ambitious system has been demonstrated from Witricity which can deliver power over a distance of a few metres without the need for physical contact.

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The Powermat costs £69.99 (or £79.99 for a fold-out portable version) from Amazon, and adapters that go on an iPhone cost another £34.99. Adapters in the form of replacement backs are also available for devices including Blackberries, and there is a Powermat compatible dock for iPods.

Alternatively, for devices where no Powermat adapter is available, it is possible to use a Powercube (pictured), which provides USB charging.

Despite its “cool” appeal, the device has received sceptical comments on gadget blogs, where readers have pointed out that the combination of Powermat and Powercube uses more wires and is more inefficient than a mains USB adapter.

The device has also been compared poorly with the universal power adapter which is being brought in with action from the ITU and the GSMA, which predicts a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gas from phones