A part of living in a world where we all carry computers in our pockets, is that we occasionally need to juice up (Some more than others) when we’re in the car. There are plenty of cheap chargers available online, but there’s really no guarantee that the product will work as well as advertised or how long it will last. A new product called Zus from nonda promises to be everything that you’ve ever wanted in a mobile phone charger and more.
nonda claims that Zus is constructed to ‘military grade quality’ meaning that it meets US Millitary MIL-STD-810G high temperature standards. In other words, it can take the heat. In addition to being built for toughness, this is a smart charger. It can sense how much power your phone is able to take safely and it will feed it that, up to 4.8 Amps. As if that wasn’t enough, it also has a built-in Bluetooth module. For what, you ask? It connects to your phone via Bluetooth whenever you get into the car and pairs with the 4mb Zus app (available in the Apple App Store and Google Play). Then you get out of the car and go into the mall. Then you forget where you parked
and have to wander around for a while looking for your car so you pull up the trusty Zus app and it tells you by GPS location exactly where you parked. That’s some seriously good value and they are planning on adding more features if they reach their stretch goals on their Indiegogo.
How Is Zus In the Real World?
One of the biggest fears that people have about crowdfunding campaigns is that they are scams that will never make it to their front door and it’s not an unfounded fear. Luckily, a lot more crowdfunding campaigns are getting the point and have started making working prototypes before the Indiegogo even starts. Zus is one of those that already has a working model before their Indiegogo and I got to test it out for about a week to get an idea of how well it works in the real world.
From my perspective, it has two testable things to live up to: Its intelligence as far as charging is concerned and how well I can find my car using the app. Charging speed is really important, especially on these larger phones with hefty 3500 mAh batteries inside.
I first connected the Note 5 that I reviewed from Verizon first to my Amazon Basics charger and tested the voltage and amperage that was being output to the phone. Amazon touts a max amperage of 2.0A for this charger, which I thought was important as phone batteries get larger and ask for higher amperage to compensate. I found that it was pulling about 5V at 1.17A and that didn’t change when I turned the screen off. Then I tried with Zus – I got relatively the same results when the screen was on but when the screen turned off it quickly switched to drawing ~1.54A, which indicated to me that there is actually a conversation happening between the two devices and if the Note 5 wanted up to 4 Amps, the Zus would probably provide that.
Of course the other big feature is being able to find your car in the parking lot using the GPS in your phone. I actually paired the Zus to two different phones during my testing and that pairing process wasn’t as painless as I would prefer it to be. Both times I ended up having to click “try again” within the app to attempt to find the Zus several times before it would pair. I suspect that it just takes a little while for the Zus to boot up and decide that it wants to pair with a phone from when it gets plugged in, which is honestly fine, I just wish that the app would compensate for that by allowing for more time to pair. It gave up after a few seconds of searching, which is why I had to click “try again” so many times before it found the Zus.
Once the Zus is paired to your phone, however, you needn’t think about it anymore. When you get into the car, the device pairs and gives you a persistent notification to that effect. When you get out of the car, that switches to a dismissable notification that tells you “Zus saved your car location.” If you open the notification (or the app in general) when you are ready to go look for your car, it immediately points you in the right direction and tells you how far it is until you reach your destination. My experience with the distance was that it was wildly inaccurate, but it did point me in the right direction and when it said that I had reached my destination I was within 10 feet of my car. I think this entire process could use a little tweaking, but for the most part it did its job.
I noticed a couple of other things along the way that aren’t necessarily the best thing in the world, but also inevitabilities of this kind of technology. First, you may have guessed, you need to have the GPS on on your phone for this to work. It would be really nice if Android handled that permission differently (ie – giving GPS location to certain apps if they have permission to do so but keeping it off when it’s not being used like iOS seems to do) but for now that’s something you’ll have to deal with and that can be a serious battery drain. The other is that this sometimes won’t work in parking garages. I use a parking garage every day at work and it usually worked, but I noticed that it didn’t work at least once during testing. The app also has no way to know what floor you’re on, so you’ll have to make a note of that anyway.
The Zus is set to retail for $39, but is still available on Indiegogo for $29. As of the time of this writing, the campaign has reached 1200% of its original $10,000 goal and it still has about 2 weeks left! They have also promised that if the campaign reaches $250K, they will add a feature into the application that will alert the user when their parking meter is going to expire, that’s definitely something that I’d like to see!
If you have any additional questions about Zus, feel free to drop them into the comments section and I will do my best to answer them!