Duracell Powermat 24-Hour Power System review: Compact and sophisticated wireless charging

One nice flourish I've always liked on Powermat products is how certain it is when you're charging successfully. When you begin to place a Powermat-equipped phone on the mat you first feel a strong magnetic tug that's hard to ignore. This pull guides you down to connect the device with the mat with a solid thunk. If that wasn't enough of a clue, the mat chimes with an audible rising tone and illuminates a small LED when the connection is made. Pulling a device off of the mat causes a falling chime to play and switches off the light.

You can also place the Portable Backup Battery on the mat for wireless charging. Duracell claims the battery provides up to four full phone charges, and four lights on the side of the unit flash to indicate both charge level and charging status. To power up mobile devices, by passing juice through the battery either from the mat or via the battery itself, the gadget has both a wired Apple connector and a Micro-USB cord. Another nice touch is how the cables tuck elegantly away into recessed wells for storage.

Unlike the Energizer Dual Inductive Charger, however, the Powermat lacks a USB port for charging a third device. Also, if you're hoping that you'll find Powermat technology already integrated into smartphones you'll be disappointed. In contrast to the Qi wireless power technology, which is already taking steps toward its goal of becoming a true, ubiquitous standard, no handsets at the moment natively support Powermat charging.

The Duracell Powermat 24-Hour Power System is made to charge two devices at once. Sarah Tew/CNET

Of course, Duracell has recently announced deals with corporate partners such as Starbucks and Delta Airlines to deploy Powermat technology themselves. For example, you can now charge Powermat products at select Starbucks locations in the Boston area and in some Delta Sky Club lounges, including at JFK and LaGuardia airports in New York.

Performance
Duracell told me that users can expect the Powermat 24-Hour Power System to operate similarly to traditional wired AC chargers that came with their handsets. Indeed, much like my experience with the Energizer Dual Inductive Charger, the Power System took about as long to charge my Samsung Galaxy S3 (via wireless case) and HTC Droid DNA (through the Portable Battery) test devices as it does using their own power bricks.

That said, I did run into the same glitch trying to power up my HTC Droid DNA as I did with the Energizer Dual Inductive Charger. When the phone's battery was completely drained, the DNA refused to accept power unless I connected it directly to a standard USB cable. That said, I have sneaking suspicion that this is caused by a fault in the Droid DNA's software, since I didn't encounter this problem with other phones with dead batteries.

As advertised, the Power System kept my handset juiced up and ready for action long into the evening -- bearing in mind that as an office rat I tend to sit all day next to AC power. I found the Powermat, like other inductive chargers, made maintaining a strong battery level effortless. Dropping my phone onto a pad is much easier to remember than plugging it in. The extra electrons offered by the Portable Backup Battery are icing on the cake but serve as welcome insurance.

The cases add thickness but also the convenience of wireless charging. Sarah Tew/CNET

One caveat though is that the Backup Battery's true supply really depends on the size and capacity of your handset's battery. For instance, to top off the Droid DNA completely from zero charge used up two of the Backup Battery's four rated device recharges. Those who have invested in previous Powermat products will be happy to know, however, that their legacy products are compatible with these new Duracell-branded Powermat gadgets.

Conclusion
The beauty of inductive charging systems like the $99.99 Duracell Powermat 24-Hour Power System is that they go a long way to help make charging up mobile devices an afterthought. With the Power System set up on your home or office desktop, remembering to drop your phone onto its charging mat uses less brain cells, in my view, than taking the extra effort to find a free USB cord.

I also like that this Powermat system works with any older Powermat chargers you may have bought. Combined with the bundled portable battery, you'll be able to keep your phone nicely juiced up and ready for duty. Of course, the $100 sticker price of the Power System qualifies it as a luxury considering you could just as well get by with a standard wired charger. It's also a bummer that Powermat technology is as yet not integrated into any handsets, unlike the competing Qi wireless power solution. For Qi-capable phones, I suggest the $89 Energizer Dual Inductive Charger . It's not as portable but will charge Qi handsets without bulky sleeves. If you plan to take your charger on the road or spent lots of time away from AC outlets, the 24-Hour Power System is your best bet.

What you'll pay

Pricing is currently unavailable.

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Where to Buy

Duracell Powermat 24-hour Power System- iPhone 4/4S (white)

Part Number: 6080318

MSRP: $99.00

See manufacturer website for availability.