Have you noticed how more and more things are becoming “smart” these days? From smart phones and smart watches to the smart home and even smart toys, clever technology is being put into more and more of the items we use on a day to day basis. But when the nonda team contacted me and asked me if I’d like to review their ZUS smart car charger I was intrigued – how do you make a car charger “smart”. After all, it just has one function doesn’t it – to provide the power needed to charge our other smart devices via the in-car power socket?
Well, it turns out that what makes the ZUS smart car charger smart is that it can help you remember where you parked your car. Now given that I have a very bad sense of direction and get quite stressed about losing my car in a large car park this sounded like a great idea, so I agreed to give the product a go.
The ZUS smart car charger is a compact design, with two USB sockets, one on each side, a bit like ears. These sockets are high power (up to 4.8A) for a faster charge, and apparently the charger can automatically detect what device is plugged into it and will adjust the power it gives for optimal charging.
It’s also, apparently, the only car charger that meets US Military standards for withstanding high temperatures. I’m not quite sure why that’s important in a car charger, but you never know…
In order to use the “smart” features of the charger you must connect it with an app on your phone using Bluetooth. The initial set up was easy – I downloaded the app and it talked me through what I needed to do to connect it with the charger. Since initial setup it has worked flawlessly, and every time I have parked my car and switched off the engine I’ve had a little notification on my phone to confirm the location has been saved:
There is an option to set a parking timer, which will alert you on your phone starting from 30 minutes before your chosen time is up. This should hopefully give you time to get back to your car before your ticket runs out.
When it’s time to get back to your phone all you need to do is go into the ZUS app on your smartphone and a little radar-like display will indicate how far away your car is, and in what direction.
You can see ZUS in action in the video below:
I’ve got on really well with the ZUS smart car charger. It definitely does a good job of charging my iPhone when I’m on the go in the car, which is of course its primary function. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how well the smart car location works when parking – I’m getting really used to the reassuring little notification sound every time I park that tells me my phone knows where my car is. The connection between the charger and my iPhone has been rock solid – since initial setup it has just worked, every single time.
It’s not completely foolproof though. nonda told me that because the ZUS app utilises your phone’s GPS to help you find your car, ZUS is best suited for cars parked where GPS signal is strong such as open spaces. When I parked in a local multi-storey car park I was warned that ZUS had not been able to save my location. The app did, very sensibly, prompt me to take a photo of my surroundings instead to help me locate the car. I have had rather variable success with the apps location accuracy, but it’s always got me within a few metres of my car at the very worst, which is usually enough to locate the car from. It certainly narrows down the search area if you’ve completely lost your vehicle!
Another thing to bear in mind is that the ZUS charger only talks to the connected phone to update the car’s location. So when the geekdaddy borrowed my car to go out for the evening, I was unable to spy on him to see where he’d parked via my app.
Having initially been a little non-plussed about a smart car charger, I am now converted, and the ZUS is in permanent service in my car. I don’t lose my car all that often, but it’s reassuring to know that my phone is always maintaining a record of where my car is, just in case…
The ZUS smart car charger has a recommended retail price of £33 in the UK and $49.99 in the US. The good news is that the ZUS team have provided me with a 10% discount code, valid until 31st March 2016, for purchases made through the official ZUS website. Simply enter the code SMM-AKZUSSUMMER16 at checkout to claim your discount. My UK readers might do better buying through my Amazon affiliate link as the ZUS smart car charger is currently on sale at Amazon for just £15. Whilst it might be a little more expensive than other car chargers, I think it’s worth it for the extra smart functionality.
Disclosure: I was provided with a ZUS smart car charger for review purposes. All words and opinions are my own. The Amazon product link in this review contains my Amazon affiliate ID – if you make a purchase after clicking I will receive a small commission payment, at no additional cost to you. I link to Amazon because I use them personally and recommend them.