Nokia Wireless Charging Plate DT-903 review: Glowing wireless charger is a bright idea, for some

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The Good The Nokia Wireless Charging Plate creatively kicks things up a notch with LEDs that alert you to incoming messages and alerts. You can turn the lights off while you sleep.

The Bad It works with only two phones right now, and doesn't give you enough programming flexibility. It lacks a charging brick for its USB connector.

The Bottom Line If you like the idea of a Qi charger that informs you of alerts, the costlier Nokia Wireless Charging Plate is one-of-a-kind, though I'd save my money for an even smarter second attempt.

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7.6 Overall

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When your phone is low on juice, nothing could be simpler than tossing it onto a wireless charger to power-up on impact. Microsoft's Nokia Wireless Charging Plate, also dryly known as model DT-903, attempts to smarten up the straightforward wireless charger with some LEDs that light up when you have an incoming message or alert.

Several settings let you customize things like which apps you want to alert you, and which house the charger should go dark, making it a better bedtime companion. Unfortunately, because this charger requires the phone to have both Qi wireless charging and the Lumia Denim software upgrade, it's limited to the Nokia Lumia 830 and 930 handsets, though not Verizon's Lumia Icon in the US.

It's also on the pricier side: $60 (which converts to £40 and roughly AU$70) at the Microsoft store and online. Overall, I appreciate that Microsoft/Nokia has tried to give us a wireless charger that does more, but the small handset pool keeps it niche, and I'm unconvinced that the alerts do much to help me out. This Charging Plate is on the right track, but needs more flexibility in programming LED patterns before I'd truly sing its praises.

Specs and compatibility

The Nokia Wireless Charging Plate uses the Qi wireless charging protocol (pronounced "chee") to do its thing. I tested it in green, but the device also comes in white and orange.

Even when it isn't emitting light, the oblong charging plate is pretty nice to behold. It's got a smooth, pill shape that's about 6.3 inches (159 mm) long and 3 inches wide (76 mm). It's also pretty thin, at 0.35-inch (8.9 mm), though it does stand higher off a table than that. A short foot elevates the device from the surface so you can see the light streaming out. The Wireless Charging Plate weighs 5.3 ounces (150 g).

Now, even though it's called a "wireless" charger (since it charges the device on contact and not through a plug), you still have to supply this puck with power. There is of course still one cable sprouting out from the bottom. The idea is that you can position the plate to hide the cable, which you never have to worry about moving around, since the Plate itself is meant to remain more or less where it is.

A quick tap of the phone to the plate pairs it through NFC. Josh Miller/CNET

At a little more than 4 feet (121 cm), the cable ends in a USB plug you can stick into your laptop, for instance, or a spare charging brick. The box unfortunately doesn't pack in one of its own, a real problem if you also want to keep a more conventional wired charger somewhere else.

Glow, baby, glow

Bright lights ring the bottom of the charging plate. They spring to life in three circumstances: first, to indicate an awaiting message or alert (even if the phone is off the charger); second, when you place the phone on the charger; and third, to remind you to charge your phone when the plate detects that your battery is low. The glow will stop when the phone is fully charged (and you have no other alerts), and when you dismiss an alert through the notifications shade or else open the notifying app.

How does the plate know all this? Easy: you've paired the accessory with your device with a simple tap. The NFC, or near-field communication, protocol instantly pairs the two through Bluetooth 4.0 The result is a fast, seamless pairing.

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