Ahead of the expected debut of Apple’s wearable at Tuesday’s media event, Jessica Lessin of The Information (via Business Insider) has shared some hints on what the device’s battery life might be like. According to her report, employees familiar with the device have “set low expectations” for its battery life.
Lessin did not give details on how long the iWatch’s battery might last, but past rumors have suggested that battery life was one of the main areas Apple was struggling with during the device’s development.
2.5-inch iWatch concept from SET Solution with curved, rectangular display
In the build-up to the new Apple Watch, it is easy to get seduced by the rumored features. Curved screen! Wireless charging! Jony Ive thinks it’s slick!
But–and I hate to burst everyone’s bubble here–the appeal of the world’s most highly anticipated wearable computer is going to come down to something a lot more mundane: battery life.
News of battery life issues first surfaced in March of 2013, suggesting iWatch prototypes had been seeing poor battery life, in the range of a day or two. At the time, Apple was said to be aiming for four to five days before charging, but it’s unknown if the company managed to hit that goal.
In light of battery issues, Apple explored several different charging technologies for the device, including solar charging, motion charging, and wireless charging. Solar charging was a bust, but according to rumors, the final device will ship with wireless charging capabilities, which could help to reduce the burden of frequent charges.
With just four days to go until Apple’s wearable device is unveiled, rumors have been picking up. Recent information for the iWatch points towards two display sizes, a curved OLED display, a range of band options, a multitude of high-quality sensors, and NFC support, in addition to the aforementioned wireless charging.
Though we expect to see the iWatch at Apple’s upcoming iPhone 6 event, many reputable sources have suggested the device won’t ship to consumers until early 2015.
Google on Friday confirmed what was recently tossed about the rumor mill; an update is coming to Android Wear in the neat future. According to Google, all Android Wear watches will receive the update, including those that arrived on launch day. …we want to build devices that you can use when you need and forget about when… Read more »
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Asus announced its Android Wear-powered smartwatch at this year’s IFA in Berlin. The device sports a 1.63-inch AMOLED display 320 x 320 in resolution. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 400 processor clocked at 1.2GHz is powering the device with 512MB of RAM included in the watch as well. This watch comes with Bluetooth 4.0 and has IP55 certification… Read more »
And just like that, HTC is out of the smartwatch game. According to a recent Pocket-Lint story, that is. Reportedly, HTC has opted to abandon its plans for a smartwatch without ever having attempted a consumer launch. With multiple Android Wear devices already on the market and new ones announced this week, it’s about to get… Read more »
If you’re looking to protect your smartwatch from pesky intruders but also want to keep your watch face looking sleek, then it might be time to try the Lockable smartwear app. It’s an app that provides your smartwatch with either a pin, a pattern, or a swipe lock screen, just like on an Android device, and also has… Read more »
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When it comes to putting computers on our bodies, everyone’s an armchair Anna Wintour. Take a look at the comments on any story about wearable technology, just about anywhere. Ugly is in the eye of the beholder. And with good reason. While some of us view our PCs, smartphones and tablets as status symbols, our clothing and accessories are more closely tied to our identities than anything else.
Over the past few years, the frenzy for wearables has reached its peak. This week alone, Sony, Samsung, LG and Motorola have all shown off their next attempts at wrist-worn technology. And with each announcement comes a new set of sartorial critiques.
And yet, despite a seeming consensus from the tech press about the aesthetic appeal of devices like the Moto 360 and Pebble’s Steel, the world is still waiting for the one wearable that will have us all strapping a computer to our wrists, faces, waists or whatever. But the real obstacle to wearable adoption isn’t a matter of style; it’s a matter of taste.
The real obstacle to wearable adoption isn’t a matter of style; it’s a matter of taste.
New York Times tech-scribe-cum-style savant, Nick Bilton recently penned a speculative editorial proclaiming the as-of-yet-unannounced iWatch as the device that could finally take wearables mainstream. Apple will no doubt roll out a beautiful piece of machinery — it has an excellent track record and a proven team of designers, engineers and businesspeople on board — but the truth is, no matter how good the software, no matter how innovative the functionality, no matter how versatile and beautiful the design, there will never be one wearable for everyone.
Almost every player in the wearable game thus far has proven an ability to produce successful consumer technologies. Some of us can even agree that they’re starting to get the style right, but the truth is we all fancy ourselves individuals when we get dressed in the morning. No single company, whether it’s Apple or Motorola or even Swatch is ever going to make a single device that we all want to wear.
Apple’s wearable device, whether it’s a watch or a fedora or even a condom, will no doubt be a meticulously designed piece of hardware, but it’s going to take a much more robust and diverse market, full of choice for wearables to really take off. It’s going to take more than NFC, fitness tracking and Jony Ive’s magic touch. It’s going to take more than killer features and refined hardware.
It’s going to take time.
[Images: Evgeny Dubinchuk and Fuse, Getty]
Huawei’s super-sized flagship may’ve taken center stage at the company’s IFA press conference, but there was still plenty of love in reserve for another new addition to its product range: the Ascend G7. It also caters to those who like their screens big, and the spec sheet is nothing to shrug at. Build quality has been awarded particular priority, with most of the phone constructed from a single piece of metal, and the imaging experience has been carefully considered too. It’s not exactly cheap at €299 (almost $390 converted), however, which may leave some wondering where exactly the G7 fits in.
The G7 doesn’t command as large of a footprint as Huawei’s new Ascend Mate 7, but it’s not far behind with a 5.5-inch, 720p display. At that size, you’d usually expect a full HD panel, but it’s one of several compromises for the sake of using more premium components elsewhere. Although the G7 doesn’t have quite the asking price of a flagship, Huawei wanted it to look like a flagship. Aside from two panels around the camera lens and speaker grille on the back of the handset, everything but the face is made from one piece of metal.
The problem is that the quality of material isn’t backed up by any kind of inspired design like, say, HTC’s One and One M8. To reuse the old adage, it’s just a square with rounded corners. The panel around the display sports a subtle dotted effect (similar to the ceramic back of the Ascend P7 Sapphire Edition), but that pleasant touch still doesn’t push the overall look of the device above average. It comes in three styles: one has a white face, silver metal and white detailing around the camera and speaker; the others both have black faces, with either solid charcoal or golden backs. I might have warmed to the metal unibody a little more, if it wasn’t so uncomfortable in the hand.
The edges of the device are sharp — painfully sharp. At 7.6mm thick and weighing 165g, I expected it to be relatively hand-friendly despite the large screen. When you get up to that almost awkward size, though, you need to apply slightly more pressure to your grip than you would with a smaller phone. This exacerbated the problem, and when I was done taking pictures of the G7, I was happy to put it down after handling it for all of five minutes.
Thus, I’m not sure using a solid metal block was the right choice here, even if it looks high-end. The money you’d spend on a G7 does go towards other things, though, like the 13-megapixel main camera with a Sony BSI sensor and 28mm lens. There are all kinds of imaging tricks the G7 can do, like after-the-shot refocusing and live ‘beautification’ when recording video. Selfie addicts will also appreciate the 5-megapixel front-facing camera with 88-degree, wide-angle lens.
The camera experience is clearly one of the handset’s strong points, but there’s also Cat4 LTE (up to 150 Mbps download speeds), 2GB of RAM, 16GB of expandable storage and a sizable 3,000mAh battery. The only other blip on the spec sheet, aside from the 720p display, is the 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm chipset, but it’ll likely do the trick for everyone but the most demanding. The Ascend G7 is positioned as a sub-flagship phone, remember, and I’d be way more worried about how comfortable it is to use than the clock speed of the processor.
The handset is launching this month for a recommended price of €299 in several European countries (Germany, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Hungary, The Netherlands, Poland, Norway), as well as Turkey, South Africa and Mexico. It’s also due to hit other regions in the future, though it’s not clear exactly where or when.
Having built up a consumer-facing business over recent years with smartphones and tablets, Huawei made its first move into wearables this year with a fitness tracker-cum-smartwatch (pictured above). The company is far from finished in this burgeoning product category, though, as Huawei’s CEO Richard Yu has told us the company’s prepping another wearable that’ll launch next year — this time running Android Wear. He wouldn’t reveal too much more during an interview at IFA, but said it’ll be both “innovative and beautiful.”
Yu’s tight-lipped about what form factor the watch will take, but did say it’ll be “more beautiful” than Samsung’s latest effort, the Gear S. Huawei’ll have plenty of competition, of course — although perhaps none from HTC, which’s allegedly ditched its wearable plans for now. The likes of LG, Motorola, ASUS and Sony already have smartwatches running Google’s wearable platform, and there’ll likely be several more players and products by the time Huawei comes to market. Given the firm’s current smartband doubles as a Bluetooth headset, however, we wouldn’t be surprised if its smartwatch also had some kooky features to make it stand out from the crowd.
Filed under: Wearables
There isn’t a very large middle ground in the Windows tablet world right now. You frequently have to choose between a budget-oriented, low-spec model and an expensive portable powerhouse. And that’s a shame, really. There are no doubt people who want high-resolution screens or lots of options, but don’t want to pay for fast processors that may go to waste. That’s what makes Lenovo’s ThinkPad 10 so appealing at first glance — it’s a well-equipped 10-inch Windows slate that won’t hit your wallet too hard. The question is whether or not it strikes that price-to-performance balance as well as it should. It does in some ways, but there are some big sacrifices involved. Read on to see if they’ll be worth your while.
The ThinkPad 10 is no radical departure in design; it mostly looks like the ThinkPad 8 writ large, and it’s not even a big deviation from its ThinkPad Tablet 2 ancestor. Not that there’s much reason to complain. You’re still getting an aluminum-clad machine that’s both thin and light (0.35 inch and 1.3 pounds, respectively) and feels every bit as comfortable and well-made as you’d expect for the $599-plus that you’ll pay. While that thinness doesn’t do any wonders for the battery life, this is definitely the large Windows tablet you want if you regularly compute while standing. It may not be as much of a featherweight as mobile OS-based tablets like the Galaxy Tab S or iPad Air, but it puts noticeably less strain on my wrists than the hefty 1.8 pounds of the larger Surface Pro 3 and Dell’s 1.6-pound Venue 11 Pro.
Not that everything is hunky-dory with that metal body. This is the same material and finish you’ll find on the ThinkPad 8, so you should expect scuffs and scratches if you forego a case. I was fortunate enough to avoid them during my test run, but I’m notoriously protective of my hardware. And you may never keep it completely pristine. The dark-hued aluminum shows virtually every grimy fingerprint for at least a little while, and there were only so many times that I was willing to wipe them off.
You won’t catch me griping much about the layout, which is designed to be used in landscape mode. That’s rather wise, given that the ThinkPad may frequently double as a laptop. On the left side, you’ll see a covered, full-size USB 2.0 port sitting near both the power connector and a fabric loop that holds the pen (more on that later). Flip over to the right and you’ll see micro-HDMI video output, a microSD storage slot, a headphone jack and (if you’re in an area where Lenovo sells cellular models) a micro-SIM slot. You’ll see both stereo speakers and an 8-megapixel camera with flash on the back, and there’s a 2-megapixel shooter on the front. About the only quibbles are the slightly small power button and volume rocker in the upper-right corner, but they’re still easy to press. Even the docking connector at the bottom clicks into peripherals with little fuss.
Display, pen and sound
You’re more likely to see higher-resolution displays on big tablets, but the ThinkPad 10’s LCD still manages to stand out in a pretty crowded space. It’s using a taller 1,920 x 1,200 resolution instead of the 1080p screen you’re more likely to find at this price point; those extra vertical pixels may not seem like much, but they help when browsing the web or writing a report. The 224 ppi density is also just about right for Windows 8.1, which is finicky about scaling high resolutions to just the right size. The display is sharp enough that content looks good, but it’s not so sharp that you’re forced to squint or tap lots of tiny buttons when you switch to the traditional desktop.
Crispness isn’t the only thing that matters, of course, and the ThinkPad is a bit of a mixed bag in some other areas. I like the IPS-based panel’s overall color reproduction, but it’s not supremely accurate — Laptop Mag found that it covers just under 72 percent of the sRGB color gamut, which rules it out for professional photo editing. Viewing angles are very good, however, and I didn’t notice color shifts or dimming when looking at the tablet from less-than-natural positions. Just don’t plan on taking this device outside on a sunny day. The ThinkPad’s LCD is officially rated at 400 nits of brightness and cuts out enough glare to be easily visible in most situations, but it won’t overcome direct sunlight.
You may be willing to forgive those foibles given the pen input, which was sadly missing on the ThinkPad 8. You can draw with varying degrees of pressure, or hover above the screen. There aren’t any tricks on the level of the Surface Pro 3’s OneNote shortcut, but you’ll get both a right-click button and an eraser. I found myself liking the pen more than I thought I would — it’s light and comfortable, and I had no trouble with handwriting recognition or doodling. With that said, this is really more of a productivity tool than an artistic instrument. It’s hard to apply the exact amount of force you want in a drawing, so you probably won’t be producing masterpieces.
The speakers certainly aren’t anything to write home about. They’re clear-sounding and reasonably loud even with their rear-facing orientation, so you can listen in a room with moderate background noise. However, they don’t carry a lot of punch — watch a dance music video and you’ll wonder where all the bass went. That lack of oomph is acceptable given the ThinkPad’s emphasis on pro users, but it would be nice if Lenovo kicked up the quality a notch. Pointing the speakers toward the user’s face would help, too.
Just like its smaller sibling, the ThinkPad 10 doesn’t carry much in the way of non-standard software, and what’s there is (mostly) useful. AccuWeather, Evernote Touch, Hightail (formerly YouSendIt), Norton Internet Security and Zinio’s magazine reader are all third-party apps that you can easily use every day. I was most fond of AccuWeather and Evernote, but I could do without Norton’s occasional nagging. Don’t assume that this is just a carbon copy of the layout from before, though. Lenovo clearly sees its 10-incher as a content-creation station, and has ditched media apps like Kindle and Rara in favor of more serious tools like its self-branded photo and video editors. My one real gripe is the trial-only copy of Office. Unless you prefer alternatives like Google’s cloud apps, you’ll have to fork out additional cash if you’re going to churn out a lot of reports and spreadsheets while on the road.
Performance and battery life
|Tablet||PCMark7||3DMark06||3DMark11||ATTO (top disk speeds)|
|Lenovo ThinkPad 10 (1.59GHz Intel Atom Z3795, Intel HD graphics)||2,328||1,168||E235 / P155||129 MB/s (reads); 52 MB/s (writes)|
|Lenovo ThinkPad 8 (1.46GHz Intel Atom Z3770, Intel HD graphics)||2,567||1,598||E312 / P198||128 MB/s (reads); 57 MB/s (writes)|
|Acer Iconia W4 (1.33GHz Intel Atom Z3740, Intel HD graphics)||2,538||2,089||E340 / P211||173 MB/s (reads); 48 MB/s (writes)|
|ASUS Transformer Book T100 (1.33GHz Intel Atom Z3740, Intel HD graphics)||2,461||2,113||
E338 / P209
|123 MB/s (reads); 58 MB/s (writes)|
|Dell Venue 8 Pro (1.33GHz Intel Atom Z3740D, Intel HD graphics)||2,343||1,986||
E299 / P164
|86 MB/s (reads); 45 MB/s (writes)|
The ThinkPad 10’s performance is a real head-scratcher. On paper, its quad-core 1.6GHz Atom processor should make it one of the fastest Windows tablets in its class. In practice, however, it’s relatively pokey; its average benchmark scores were the lowest among the Windows slates we’ve tried, even when stacked up against older devices with 1.33GHz chips. You can’t blame this on the high-resolution display, either, since the equally sharp-looking ThinkPad 8 is still faster. Synthetic tests aren’t the be-all and end-all of a device, but it’s apparent that the higher clock speed won’t grant you any additional bragging rights.
That’s true in the real world, too. Like every other recent Atom tablet, this bigger ThinkPad has no trouble whipping through the Windows 8.1 interface and typical apps like browsers or Evernote, but it won’t replace a desktop or a good laptop; it’s not up to handling serious creative work or high-end games. It’s also slow to boot at about 14 seconds (versus eight for Acer’s Iconia W4), and the back can get noticeably hot when you’re playing action-heavy games like Halo: Spartan Assault. Lenovo isn’t pitching the ThinkPad 10 as a speed demon in the first place, but it would be nice to see some tangible improvements for the money, you know? The 2GB of RAM is good enough for common tasks, although I’d strongly recommend buying the top-tier 4GB variant if you’re going to juggle many apps at once.
|Lenovo ThinkPad 10||6:44|
|Microsoft Surface 2||14:22|
|iPad Air||13:45 (LTE)|
|Apple iPad mini||12:43 (WiFi)|
|Samsung Galaxy Tab S (10-inch)||12:30|
|Samsung Galaxy Tab S (8-inch)||12:22|
|Apple iPad mini with Retina display||11:55 (LTE)|
|Apple iPad (late 2012)||11:08 (WiFi)|
|ASUS Transformer Book T100||10:40|
|Apple iPad 2||10:26|
|Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2||10:04|
|Apple iPad (2012)||9:52 (HSPA) / 9:37 (LTE)|
|Acer Iconia W4||9:50|
|Nexus 7 (2012)||9:49|
|Microsoft Surface RT||9:36|
|Sony Xperia Tablet Z||8:40|
|ASUS Transformer Pad TF103C||8:26|
|Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet||7:57|
|Dell Venue 8 Pro||7:19|
|Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0||7:18|
|Nexus 7 (2013)||7:15|
|Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4||7:13|
|Microsoft Surface Pro 3||7:08|
|Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1||6:55|
|Lenovo ThinkPad 8||6:11|
The real dealbreaker may be the dismal battery life I hinted at earlier. When looping a 1080p video at half brightness, the ThinkPad 10 musters just six hours and 44 minutes on a charge. That result is better than the bottom-ranked ThinkPad 8, but I’d hardly call that a rousing success. Even when playing a less taxing standard-definition clip, the running time was subpar at seven hours and 38 minutes. No, you won’t mind the short lifespan if you’re curling up on the couch or taking notes at the occasional meeting, but it’s not at all what I’d expect from a business-class tablet that may have to run on battery all day. Frankly, you’re better off scooping up something like ASUS’ Transformer Book T100 (as old as it is) if every hour counts. What good is a sharper display when you have no power left?
We didn’t touch on the cameras when looking at the ThinkPad 8, but it’s worth exploring them now — especially when you’re theoretically spending such a hefty sum. The 8-megapixel rear camera is solid, but not spectacular. It’s capable of some sharp, colorful pictures in good lighting, including close-ups, but it tends to blow out images in bright lighting, hide detail in shadows and produce plenty of visible noise in darker conditions. The 2-megapixel front cam, meanwhile, is merely adequate for video chat, with noisy, soft pictures. Lenovo does have an ace in the hole, mind you. Its Quickshot Cover will automatically launch the camera app by prying it open, which I found supremely handy for capturing spur-of-the-moment pictures. I wish other tablet makers would follow suit.
Configuration options and the competition
In the US, you have just two ThinkPad models to choose from: the entry-level $599 version with 2GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, and a $699 edition that jumps to 4GB and 128GB, respectively. You’ll usually be fine with the starter device if it’s just a companion to your main PC, but you’ll want to seriously consider the pricier of the two if this is going to be a primary machine. And like many tablets, you’ll probably want at least one or two accessories to complete the experience. I would buy the $45 Quickshot Cover without hesitation; besides that camera trick, it’s good for protecting the screen or propping the tablet up to watch a movie. If you type often (which is likely if you’re already a ThinkPad fan), you should consider spending $90 for the Touch Case or $120 for the Ultrabook Keyboard. I sadly haven’t had a chance to try either, but they should serve you better than a third-party Bluetooth keyboard.
The $55 Protector rugged case and $130 Tablet Dock (which adds HDMI, USB 3.0 and Ethernet) are tougher calls. I wouldn’t get the Protector unless you’re working out in the field and need a drop-resistant shell. Also, the dock partly defeats the point of a tablet. If you’re stationary enough to want a larger display, mouse and keyboard, it’s likely wiser to get a convertible touchscreen laptop like the Yoga 2 Pro than to go through the hassle of adding all those components after the fact.
It’s tricky to find out where the ThinkPad 10 stands among its rivals. As I mentioned earlier, it occupies a rare middle ground in a field that’s largely split between affordable Windows slates and high-powered laptop replacements. The most obvious parallel is the Venue 11 Pro, although whether or not it represents a better deal depends on the discounts you get. As of this writing, giving Dell $500 will get you comparable hardware and a full copy of Office; Lenovo’s $100 premium does get you a slightly higher pixel count, pen input and a lighter chassis, but those are usually bonuses rather than must-haves. And if you’re looking at the $699 ThinkPad, it’s hard to resist spending another $100 to get either a high-end Venue 11 Pro or the basic Surface Pro 3. Both have speedier Core i3 processors, and the Surface compensates for its reduced storage with both a 12-inch screen and a more sophisticated pen. If you’re going to splurge on a really nice Windows tablet in the first place, doesn’t it make sense to get something truly powerful?
That last point sums up the ThinkPad 10’s dilemma, really. You’ll undoubtedly get a lot, including that nice display, pen input and top-flight industrial design. However, I can’t help but see this as an awkward, in-between product. For the ThinkPad to fit into your world, you need a healthy budget that’s not quite so healthy that the highest-end tablets are within reach. This wouldn’t be as much of a problem if the device had a long-lasting battery to give it an edge, but it doesn’t — it’s actually worse than more powerful hardware where short battery life is expected, like the Surface Pro 3. While I really enjoyed using the ThinkPad, it’s more of a specialist’s tool than a Swiss Army knife. It’s delightful if it fulfills your needs, but you’re probably best off either saving money with lower-end tech or investing in something more capable.
Dana Wollman contributed to this review.
Patriot Fuel iON Wireless Charging kits cover home, office and auto with magnetic charging ease [Review]
We have been working with Patriot since CES in January 2013. While many might know them from their computer RAM offerings, the company has more recently started to put their talents to work in the mobile sphere. Some of the first products we were able to use were the Patriot Fuel+ battery banks and the Patriot Stellar OTG USB thumb drives all performed extremely well. We were given the chance to take a completely new product on a test run and it certainly has been one of the best we have personally seen. Meet the Patriot Fuel iON wireless charging kit.
This particular kit is for the Samsung Galaxy S4, but they have another kit for the iPhone 5 and will be offering more conversation cases soon. The Samsung galaxy S4 doesn’t natively offer wireless charging like the Google Nexus 5 does. In order to utilize wireless charging of any sorts, you need a special add-on for your device, There are many different ones available, but most of them all seem to all center around Qi charging. While Qi is the more standard wireless charging, it still isn’t as fast and efficient as directly plugging in your device. Seeing most of them taking twice as long to charge a device makes them really only great for charging while you are asleep. The Patriot Fuel iON wireless kit takes a slightly different approach and uses magnets.
In the case of the Samsung Galaxy S4 you simply remove the back plate, slide your S4 in and clip it into place. The two gold prongs on the inside back seat with the gold slots found on the back to make the connection for the power to pass through to the battery.
Located on the rear is a round black pad with a four gold ringed plate. This plate is what connects to your wireless charger. The outer case is a hard plastic/rubber material that is soft to the touch, but not slippery. It offers cutouts on the right for the power button and the bottom for the USB port. The volume buttons are covered by the folio, but is still accessible when closed if need be.
The case system for the Galaxy S4 also overs the clear view window flip cover. When closed it prompts up the time and date and when you open it the device automatically turns on and is accessible. The inside flap offers a soft velvety material to help protect the screen. While the outside is a vinyl feeling material.
The case for the device is pretty straight forward. Where the magic happens comes from the variety of charging cradles that have been developed. The entire suite of cradles or base stations, cover your home, your office and your car. Really unifying your ability to charge your device quickly and easily no matter where you are.
First up we have the charging puck. This simple round puck puts the magnetic charging receiver right in the center of the puck. It is slightly elevated from the remainder of the puck.
On the bottom you have 4 soft rubber feet to stabilize the puck and protect the surface you have it placed on. There is a micro USB input port on the rear for you to plug-in the puck to your PC or wall plug.
Next we have a desktop dock. The dock sits a slight angle and is minimal in size. It is made of hard plastic with the Fuel iON logo on the front.
Finally we have the car kit.
The car kit comes with a dual port USB car charger. This allows you to use the car kit mount and still offer your passenger a port to charge their device as well. You are provided with a base plate that has 3M adhesive on the back to create a spot for the sticky suction cup to adhere. Most people won’t need or use it, but it is handy if your dash is tore up or placement on your windshield is impractical.
All of the charging bases come with a micro USB cable to connect them to your wall charger, car chargers or USB ports on your PC. None of this by its self is revolutionary, but the fact that the whole system uses magnets is pretty outstanding. All you have to do is get the center plate on the rear of your device relatively close to the charger and it pulls its self into place. This also allows for each charging dock to allow full 360 degree rotation of the device at anytime. This give you the freedom to go from portrait to landscape simply by spinning your device. No need to unclamp, unclick or unplug anything.
Patriot put another claim to fame on their newest product that said the charging system is 99% efficient compared to direct wired charging. Charge rates are a very important thing for me. While I spend a lot of time at home working, writing and spending time with my kids, there are times where I know I have to leave in 45 minutes and haven’t charged my phone all day. I am a bit neurotic and don’t like to leave my house for any amount of time with anything less than 75% charge. Heck, even at 75% on a 2 hour trip I might just take a battery bank.
Testing of the charge rates were pleasantly surprising. As you can see in the screenshots below, I started at 15% charge at 5:23 p.m.
The Galaxy S4 reached 100% charge at 8:33 p.m., just over 3 hours. Considering that I have seen wireless charging states come back with devices taking 6+ hours to reach 100%, I’d say that 3 hours is pretty good. This test isn’t 100% accurate either. There are fluctuation due to data connections, notifications, and the likes throughout the charging process. It is likely to have charged a little faster with everything off, or the device completely powered off. Most of us don’t do that when we charge our devices though.
The Cons of the Fuel iON wireless charging case. (Galaxy S4 specifics)
The kit isn’t perfect, there are a few things that I was not fond of that could be a deal breaker for you. Personally I have always hated the folio cases. They just aren’t my thing. The good news though is that cutting it off flip should be pretty easy. I haven’t cut mine just yet as the S4 I have currently for testing isn’t being used as my daily driver at the moment. Rest assured though, it will find its demise soon.
The other aspect that I am not particularly fond of is that the edges of the back of the device aren’t completely covered when in the case. You can see where the back cover should be covering the rear compartment of your device.
This could be an issue, but I haven’t run into any problems like lint or debris finding its way to the back compartment. I would like to see Patriot simply provide a redesigned rear plate that offers cutouts for the pins. More so for protection / peace of mind, but also so you could take your device out of the case and not have to remember where your back plate is. The S4 will fit in the case with its back plate on. I did it by accident one night and was confused on why it wasn’t charging.
The window on the front of the case is also a potential point of irritation. There are two films placed over the plastic. One on the inside and one on the outside. They scratch up. I removed both and was greeted with a much clearer screen. After about 3 days though scratches started appearing again. While this is annoying to me, it doesn’t hinder my use. I can still see the time, date and relevant information. I am an habitual flap opener too. meaning that I always flip it open for everything, even to check the time.
On a purchasing stand point I do find it a bit annoying that the case is bundled with the charging stand. This means you have to buy the stand and case together. You don’t have the option to just buy the case. Nor do you have the option to buy the case and combo it with the car or charging puck. Hopefully they offer the cases on their own in the future. To top it off, the only case option at this time is the folio case. I know not everyone is a fan of the folio. You can simply cut the flap off, but that defeats the purpose really. You shouldn’t have to modify a purchase to fit your needs. Hopefully if they move the cases to individual sales they will also create a more standard type of case without the flap.
The Pros of the Patriot Fuel iON wireless charging case. (Galaxy S4 specific)
The case and folio case do look pretty nice. It feels solid in your hand. You don’t have any fears that the phone might fall out of the case when you place it inside. I have taken it in and out multiple times and it still clicks in with a click and isn’t the easiest thing to take back off.
The clear view cover gives you quick glance access to information and triggers the Samsung clear view cover goodies. As mentioned earlier though, it does seem to scratch up pretty quickly though.
It charges quickly and efficiently. Going from 15%-ish to a full charge in 3 hours and 10 minutes is plenty fast for me. Since it uses the pins on the rear and not a bottom USB plug that connects to your phone, you still have easy access to your USB port for file transferring and standard USB charging without the need to remove the case.
The magnets are strong enough to hold your device in place and does take a little effort to pull it off. As you can see in the image below where I hold the puck and let the S4 dangle.
I have been using it the car and have had no issues with my phone staying put around corners and bumps, but with it only using magnets to hold it in place I would imagine a major jar or crash would send the phone flying. I have no intentions of crashing my car to test this though. Sorry.
Patriot has something good going here. I have never been sold on wireless charging until now. Each of the three charging devices look nice, don’t take up much space and connect the first time thanks to the magnets putting it in place. With the stand, puck and car units out-of-the-way I hope Patriot can get things rolling in the case department of more devices soon.
Pricing is something that could turn you away from the products. If you believe in solid products from a solid company then the price tag won’t phase you. Add in the fact that the kit has built-in circuit protection against over voltage, over current, leakage and short-circuit certainly helps, but Patriot also backs the kit with a 2-year warranty. That is pretty sweet really and something they don’t have to do. Combine that with the ease of use and speed of the charge, the starter kit with the case and stand being listed for $99.99 isn’t a bad price. That is for the Galaxy S5 or the iPhone 5/5s.
The charging puck will set you back an additional $39.99, as will an additional stand. The car mount charging base will cost a little more at $59.99.
Currently I am only seeing them available for purchase directly through Patriot. I assume they will find their way to NewEgg at some point, but the kits and docks are relatively new to the market having only been released in July. If you are interested in the product and want to learn a bit more, or want to buy some, head over to PatriotMemory.com and take a gander.
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