You might be surprised how much variety is in the world of cell phone chargers. When they're not using old-fashioned electricity, chargers can deliver juice to your gadgets in quite a few unexpected ways. Indeed, we've seen chargers that run off hand cranking, AA batteries, or even the sun. But it wasn't until a product called the Wildcharger landed on our desks that we were really impressed.
What looks like a silver placemat is actually a unique gadget that can charge multiple devices at once. It requires no wired connection to the phone, and it charges in about as much time as it takes a traditional AC adapter. All this whiz-bang functionality comes at a cost--$89.99 for the charger and a special adapter for your phone--and you'll need a Motorola Razr (more on that later), but if you're looking for a conversation piece, you can't go wrong. But as cool as it is, we couldn't help but wonder what the real benefit of the WildCharger is.
The WildCharger is composed of three parts: the charger itself, an AC power adapter, and a special adapter for your phone. The first part is the most interesting. As we mentioned previously, it looks like a placemat, albeit one the Jetsons might have used. The broad metal stripes do more than just reflect the light; they actually serve as the pad's conductive surface. The back of the pad is sturdy plastic and on one side are the charger port and a small indicator light. The pad measures 6.75 inches by 8.5 inches by 0.75 inch and weighs just 4 ounces. No, it won't fit in your pocket, but it should slip easily into a large satchel or suitcase. The AC adapter is nothing special; just plug it into your socket and connect it to the charging pad. The cord could be longer and we wish the adapter wasn't so wide (it takes up a lot of room on a power strip), but those are minor gripes.
As we said earlier, you'll also need a particular phone adapter to use the WildCharger. Though you can buy the adapter and charger for the aforementioned bundle price, you also can buy them separately ($59.99 for the pad and $34.99 for the adapter). Also, WildCharge (the device's manufacturer) only sells adapters for Motorola's Razr V3 as of this writing, but the company says it will support other phones in the next few months. While there are certainly enough Razrs in the world to keep the WildCharge busy, we hope it introduces new adapters sooner rather than later.