When it comes to technological inconveniences, a dead cell phone definitely makes our Top 10 list, especially if it's your only means of staying in touch with others. While it's up to you to keep your iPhone fully juiced, PureEnergy (formerly known as WildCharge) seeks to make the process easier (and less cluttered) with its $79.99 WildCharge Bundle for iPhone, which uses wireless induction technology--transferring energy without wires--to quickly charge your mobile gear.
Design and Setup
While wireless power transmission is not particularly new technology--Nikola Tesla experimented with it in the late 1800s--it has taken a while for it to hit mainstream consumer products. The PureEnergy Bundle consists of three components: the WildCharge Pad, an AC adapter, and the WildCharge Skin for the iPhone. The WildCharge Pad consists mainly of a thin, conductive surface. When the contact points on the WildCharge Skin are placed against the Pad, power is transferred between the two, and into the iPhone.
With a mousepad-sized footprint of 8.0 x 6.2 inches, and the approximate thickness of two stacked credit cards, the pad is extremely portable, and has a reflective, mirror-like surface; at first glance, it could be mistaken for some sort of miniature George Foreman skillet. A blue indicator light on the pad turns on when a device is being charged. It also has five rubber grips on the bottom to prevent it from sliding around your countertop.
The plastic WildCharge Skin (available in matte black only), which doubles as a protective case, added 1.1 ounces of weight to our 4.8-ounce iPhone 3G, and fit snugly around the device. The back of the skin houses a four-point contact module, which connects with the pad when the iPhone is placed on it face up. While the bottom juts out slightly at the base (where it connects to the iPhone), we doubt you'll notice the extra bulk. Unfortunately, the thickness of the skin made it a little tricky for our large fingers to access the iPhone 3G's few external buttons. Once you've plugged in the pad and attached the skin, you're ready to go.
After placing our dead iPhone 3G on the charging pad, the PureEnergy Bundle brought it back to life in a relatively speedy 4 minutes. It took roughly an hour to achieve a 50 percent charge, and 1:48 for a full charge, which is about the same amount of time as other iPhone chargers we've recently tested, though about 15 minutes longer than the class-leading FastMac TruePower IV.
PureEnergy says you can charge up to five devices at once on the pad (depending on the devices' size) without affecting the pad's output (up to 15 watts). To test this claim, we placed three completely dead devices on the pad, utilizing their corresponding skins: a BlackBerry Curve 8330, BlackBerry Pearl, and the same iPhone 3G. This time around, it took a lengthy 19 minutes to bring our iPhone back to life, and 2 hours and 15 minutes to fully charge--27 minutes longer than the time it took to charge the iPhone by itself. While this extra wait time can hardly be ignored, it's worth noting that both the Curve and Pearl were fully charged in this same time.
Value and Partners
In a recently announced joint venture, PureEnergy has combined forces with WildCharge to incorporate the latter company's wireless induction technology into a variety of products; start looking for more devices with WildCharge compatibility stickers on them soon.
In addition to the iPhone adapter, PureEnergy sells skins for a number of other phones, including the BlackBerry Curve, Pearl, and Motorola Razr V3. Also, PureEnergy offers their Universal Adapter; it's not as sleek or convenient as the available skins, but it plugs into your phone's mini-USB port, and is compatible with over 100 devices from the likes of RIM, HTC, Nokia, and Motorola. Like the iPhone adapter, these too come bundled with a pad for $79.99, or can be purchased separately for $39.99.
For those who have devices that are too big for the pad--such as the Amazon Kindle 2--or would rather not use a skin, PureEnergy also sells the PowerDisc ($19.99). As its name connotes, this small circular adapter sits on the pad, and can deliver juice to a plethora of devices using one of its eight included adapter wires.
Though PureEnergy will continue to sell products through its Web site, Duracell (www.duracell.com) has picked up some of the slack in the retail space by recently announcing the myGrid Charging Pad, which is a rebranded version of the WildCharge Bundle. The myGrid also costs $79.99, but device skins (called Power Sleeves) are not included; instead, the charging pad comes with Duracell's Power Clip adapter (identical to WildCharge's Universal Adapter), and Power Clip tips compatible with the BlackBerry Pearl 8100 Series, Curve 8300/8800 Series, Bold Series; Motorola Razr Series, Razr V3 Series, MotoQ Series, W385, W370; and Nokia E71 Series, 2610, 6085, 6061. Power Sleeves, which cost an additional $34.99, are currently only available for the BlackBerry Curve 8300 Series, Pearl 8100 Series, and the iPod touch.
Duracell says that its Power Sleeve for the iPhone will be coming out in March, but if that's your device of choice, we say why wait? The PureEnergy-branded version of this product is available today. On the other hand, we're optimistic that a big name like Duracell is backing this technology; a company representative told us that skins for a variety of devices may be on the horizon, including notebooks and Nintendo Wii Remotes.
With a sleek design and dead-simple ease of use, the PureEnergy Bundle for iPhone does exactly what it sets out to do: charge your iPhone quickly while eliminating counter clutter. Though its $79.99 price may seem high at first glance, the versatility of the WildCharge Pad may prove it to be a worthy investment. If you own several mobile devices that are compatible with the pad, it might be worth the splurge to eliminate the myriad cords that can take up valuable desk and counter space.