Editors' note: Though we reviewed the Powermat Home and Office Mat, the Portable Mat serves the same purpose but with a compact, foldable design. We updated this review on April 2, 2010, to reflect further testing.
If you had told us five years ago that innovation was coming in cell phone chargers, we wouldn't have believed you. Our response would have been, "What's the point?" We're perfectly happy with the wall charger that came in the box."
As it turns out, we were wrong--but only partially. Both the Wildcharge Pad, which we reviewed last year, and the new Powermat Home and Office Mat can power your phone without a physical connection to a wall charger. However, it's not completely wireless--you have to plug in the phone somehow--but it is quite a change compared with how things are done normally.
The technology is innovative and both devices work just fine, but we're still not completely sold on them. As with the Wildcharge Pad, we still don't see the Powermat as really fulfilling a need. We're still happy with our charger that came in the box, and we're not eager to shell out $100 for a product that does what we can do already for free. Even though it can zap power to up to four devices at once, you're going to need to pay more for the privilege.
As you might expect, the Powermat's primary element is a thin, black mat shaped like a skateboard (though without the angled ends). At 12.25 inches long by 4.56 inches wide by 0.63 inch deep, it's not exactly portable (you'll have to use Powermat Portable to take it on the go), but it is lightweight (9.9 ounces). The mat is mostly plastic, but a rubber section on its bottom ensures it won't slip around on a table.