It's happened to all of us – the cellphone charger cord gets wrapped around our ankle, and we lurch forward, pulling the cord from the wall and sending our precious smartphone skittering across the floor faster than Tom Cruise in "Days of Thunder." Call it cord clutter, or cord overload. Whatever it is, it's annoying. So hey, we can totally get behind the idea of the new Duracell MyGrid, a mat designed to charge an array of electronic devices, from GPS receivers to iPhones.
According to Duracell, the MyGrid is all about convenience. "This initiative will serve as an important lens for future product innovation as we expand the breadth of our offerings to address the evolution of personal power," Rick June, a Duracell VP, said in a statement. "Our new personal power solutions allow consumers the freedom to live their lives without the limits of staying tethered to today's power grid. It is charging made simple."
Duracell is selling the MyGrid for about $80, and is available on Amazon; Duracell says the MyGrid can handle four electronic devices at once. As for the technology, that comes by way of PureEnergy Solutions, which manufactures its own charging mat called the WildCharger. In fact, the Wall Street Journal notes today, these charging mats have a good deal of commercial ballast – a range of companies are putting their might behind marketing the devices, and several new models are apparently in the works.
Among the most popular is the the Powermat, which has a rounder shape than the Duracell MyGrid. The capacity of the Powermat is also lower – it holds only three devices, compared to the MyGrid's four. The Powermat, which comes in at $100, is also more expensive. In a statement announcing the release of the Powermat, the designers billed the mat as a clutter killer:
Designed for use at home, at the office, in the classroom and on the road, this technology not only eliminates the unattractive tangle of “wire spaghetti” that accumulates behind and around work stations and home offices, it also eliminates the need to carry multiple bulky chargers to power a variety of electronic devices. Above all, it provides a safe, affordable and environmentally sound alternative to traditional powering methods, taking energy distribution to the next evolutionary level.
The problem with both mats, of course, is the price. Any phone you buy is going to come with a charger; ditto for a GPS unit. But a charging mat is going to come in at least $80. Furthermore, as the Journal notes, devices such as the Duracell MyGrid can drain an awful lot of energy:
The problem for the Powermat, however, is that while it reduces the number of vampire plugs, it is itself a vampire. If left plugged in, it draws 0.5 watts of power around the clock, Powermat says. That isn't a big amount, but it's about four times the 0.12 watts used by a typical phone charger, according to the Wireless Power Consortium. In other words, leaving four chargers plugged into the wall around the clock could use less energy than leaving a single Powermat.
What do you think? Would you invest in a Duracell MyGrid? Or will you still with your ordinary charger? Join the conversation in the comments section or on Twitter.