When contemplating the future of electronics, one naturally considers the potential for wirelessly charging your device without having to plug it into the wall.
While a few smartphones and tablets have attempted to bring wireless inductive charging to the mainstream, Apple and others have remained timid in their enthusiasm.
This has allowed for opportunistic and ambitious companies to cater to that market.
Enter the LaunchPort Wireless Charging system, which essentially consists of 2 products: a wireless charging stations (a tabletop version and a wall-mounted version) and iPad sleeves that interact with those stations.
Was Apple wise to leave out wireless charging for now, or can LaunchPort revolutionize the use of iPads in the operating room, hospital, or office?
What is the LaunchPort System?
The LaunchPort system consists of two categories: sleeves and stations. The charging stations come in two forms. The BaseStation ($199) is the tabletop mount that is pictured above, and the WallStation ($199) is a wall-mounted station that holds the iPad upright. At the time of this publication, there is one sleeve (AP.3 Sleeve, $149) compatible with the iPad 2 and 3rd Generation iPad. According to their website, an AP.4 Sleeve for the iPad 4th Gen and AM.1 Sleeve for the iPad Mini are on the way.
Of note, these sleeves are currently not available for products that have been on the market for almost 4 months. Similarly, the AP.3 Sleeve was released for the 3rd generation iPad in August 2012, almost 6 months after the release of the iPad 3rd Gen.
Each charging station holds the appropriately-sleeved iPad snugly via magnetism. It also provides wireless charging, in either portrait or landscape orientation. Unfortunately, at the bare minimum, both a sleeve and a charging station are required for the LaunchPort system to work, and that will immediately set you back $350 for the set.
The Charging Stations: Professional-Grade in Function and Design
Upon starting out on my review, it became clear that LaunchPort put lot of attention into this product, even beginning with the packaging. The packaging was very straightforward and easy to open, and included a significant amount of well-shaped foam that was fixed to the side of the box. I’m not usually one to be impressed with packaging, but the simplicity and generous form-fitting padding struck me as high quality. This was the case for all 3 products provided (the BaseStation, WallStation, and AP.3).
The BaseStation itself is beautiful, and professional-grade. It would fit right in at your local Apple Store. It is essentially a polished silver triangle with a soft, grippy base that allows it to sit confidently on any flat surface. The power cord for the BaseStation consists of a simple cord plugged into the wall. The wall plug brilliantly allows for international compatibility, with swappable tips for different wall outlets around the world. Once again, yet another point in the attention-to-detail category.
The WallStation is similarly well-packaged and professional in appearance, although it trades the polished metal look for a solid white look. In terms of what would actually be protruding from a wall, the WallStation is quite thin and unassuming.
As the WallStation requires proper installation–including connecting the appropriate wires for electrical power–we were unable to fully install this station into a wall for this review. It should be noted, however, that the WallStation comes rife with sufficient electrical cabling and documentation.
The obvious question that arises with the WallStation is whether or not the magnetic strength of the WallStation can sufficiently hold the iPad. For that, I can answer a resounding yes. When attaching the sleeved-iPad, a tight and satisfying hold can immediately be felt.
For testing purposes, I actually held the entire iPad upside down, and the tight grip did not falter one bit. In fact, if anything, the strength of the magnetic grip might be even too strong, as I had to pull with a surprising amount of force to separate the iPad from the WallStation.