Duracell MyGrid cable-free gadget charger
Review Cable-free charging is nothing new, the notion having been pioneered by Powermat, but the big names in consumer power have now taken note of the technology and have introduced their big-brand alternatives.
Duracell's MyGrid Charge Pad: handy if you've several devices you need to charge at once
Take Duracell. It's offering, MyGrid, follows the pattern exactly. Offer a multi-device charging pad and sell connection accessories separately for whatever gadgets the punter wants to charge up.
MyGrid is less sophisticated than the Powermat, but that hasn't made it any cheaper. And it covers a supports a much smaller range of devices, too. Duracell has cases for the iPhone 3G and 3GS, but not the iPhone 4, for example.
There are compatible cases for a range of BlackBerry Pearl and Curve handsets, and for more basic mobile phones it sells "Power Clips" - pick-ups that clip magnetically onto the back your phone and connect to a wee doohickey that plugs into the phone's power socket: Nokia jacks, for example, or mini or micro USB.
There's no dock or USB pass-through on the iPhone case. Doh!
The Power Clips stay attached magnetically, which means you'll almost certainly have to bond the bundled steel disk to the back of your handset. With its strong self-adhesive pad, the disk holds the Clip in place when you're charging your phone, but Duracell hasn't designed the Clip to remain attached at other times.
For the supported smartphones - and the iPod Touch, incidentally - the cases are something you can leave in place. They're made of thin rubbery plastic so they don't add too much to the handset's bulk, though the iPhone casing has a thick bulge at the base to accomodate the dock connector.
But, unlike Powermat, Duracell's designers haven't had the wit to include a pass-through port - Powermat's iPhone cases have a mini USB port - so you'll have to remove the case every time you want to sync your phone.
Some charging clips, like this one for Nokia phones, attaches to the back
This isn't a problem with the BlackBerries and their side-facing USB ports, but their MyGrid cases are just as cheaply moulded, with spaces that don't perfectly align with the controls and ports they're opened for, and occasional flashing.
Case in place, you just set the device down on the MyGrid charging pad, which connects to the mains through a 15W phone-style AC adaptor. Magnetic strips on the pad stop the gadgets sliding off while they're being powered.
I found the devices latched onto the Duracell pad more easily - and therefore more quickly - than their Powermat equivalents do. But the Powermat is the smarter looking of the two.
The value to you of a product like Duracell's MyGrid will depend on how many devices you need to charge at once. Got two phones, one for work, one for play? This will save you running two separate AC adaptors in parallel. But with its better-produced cases, adaptors and charging pad, I'd be more inclined to go for the Powermat than Duracell's lesser - but no cheaper - offering. ®
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