More importantly, however, is the variable quality of the receivers themselves. This is partly Powermat's fault and partly down to the handsets themselves. For example the iPhone 3G/3Gs receiver is beautifully made with a rubberised back and metal contact charging pad, but it is extremely bulky. You could argue this is because iPhones are sealed so you can't take the back off to fashion a more compact product and you'd have a point.
The problem is the iPhone 4 case is extremely thin so negates that argument, yet it is constructed with cheap plastic and looks and feels poor making it something I doubt many would want to carry with them. Since the Powermat receivers connect to the iPhone dock connectors these are also covered and the company has opted to embed a mini USB port. This makes them useless with iPod docks and not even compatible with the micro USB universal charging standard. Consequently if you own an iPhone, I'm not convinced Powermat has yet gotten its receivers right.
The flip side to this is Powermat receivers for handsets with removable backs and accessible batteries are superb. Dubbed 'receiver doors' they fit almost flush on most models and completely flush on the BlackBerry Bold 9700 and Curve series, HTC Evo, HD2 and Droid X. These work beautifully, build quality is excellent and you'll end up with a solution every bit as elegant as seen on the Palm Pre and Pre 2. Then again switch to the DS Lite/DSi and again we have a huge rubberised receiver which is both ugly and unwieldy. There's simply no consistency.
The good news is Powermat clearly has the potential to even out its flaws. The 'Powercube', for example, is evidence of the company's smart design prowess being a small square (it's not a cube at all) with interchangeable tips that sits directly on the mats and is capable of connecting to hundreds of devices. We've also seen Powermat's vision for inductive charging and it is both ambitious and impressive.
All of which means we find the current products something of a mixed bag with user satisfaction likely to be determined entirely by the device in your pocket. BlackBerry users in particular would be mad not to open their wallets. The inconsistency is frustrating though because the mats do exactly what they promise: convenient charging with charge times that are a match for a dedicated charger plugged into a socket.
Furthermore there are also some bargains to be had. The three device Home and Office mat has an RRP of £69.99, but you'll find it on Amazon at the time of publication from just £21.97. Meanwhile receivers range from £9.99 for the BlackBerry Pearl to £19.99 for the iPhone 4.
It is hard to rate the Powermat charging system. The charging mats are universally excellent, but cases are hit and miss and price and build quality vary tremendously. Ultimately iPhone users don't come out of it well, but if you own a phone with a removable battery cover you'll wonder how you ever lived without induction charging.