ScanStrut Rokk Wireless phone charging, testing the first generation

17 Dec

 

The Scanstrut Rokk Wireless charging pad I tested practically disappears under my phone, and obviously there’s no USB charging wire involved either. But that’s the idea, and there’s even a model that I could have completely hidden under that varnished cherry surface, or the similar  counter at Gizmo’s pilothouse helm. Just put the phone down in the right spot and charging happens!

I was new to wireless charging and this was a nice place to start. Scanstrut is the only company on earth developing waterproof 12/24v wireless chargers for boats, to my knowledge, and their various Rokk Wireless models are well made and good looking (as I’ve come to expect from testing Rokk mounts).

But does wireless charging make sense on a boat, or with your particular phone?

Rokk Wireless surface and bezel models

The three original Rokk Wireless models — Surface, Bezel, and Hidden — are simply different configurations of the same charging unit, and the more you want the hardware to dissappear, the harder the installation. Mounting the Surface model, for instance, required a 2.5-inch hole in the cherry board, while only a 10mm (0.4-inch) cable hole would have been needed if I used the Surface model’s 3M VHB adhesive seal to create a Bezel mount instead.

Meanwhile the completely Hidden model needs a 2.6-inch pocket hole drilled to within 3mm (0.1-inch) of the surface, plus some way of marking the right spot on that surface and wouldn’t a contrasting wood inlay of a lightening bolt be yachty cool?

The Rokk Wireless charging pad uses very little standby power

The Rokk Wireless charging pad uses very little standby power

A gadget’s electrical needs concern boaters who spend a lot of time on board with limited vessel power sources (like me), and an always-on inductive charger seems especially suspect. So I was pleased to find that the standby power cost of leaving the Rokk Wireless powered regularly tested well within Scanstrut’s “<0.03W” claim. In fact, the accurate Power Analyzer above often failed to register even that 0.01A (0.12W) current draw, until my phone got near the charger.

Moreover, I could not detect an appreciable power use difference between a similar charging cycle done with a wired USB charger or the Rokk Wireless Surface. And that makes sense given that the Rokk design is certified to the Qi wireless standard, whose 75% power efficiency is darn close to the 85% efficiency of a wired charger (according to this recent and interesting state-of-wireless-charging article).

Wireless charging can be added to almost any phone, but there's a drawback

Wireless charging can be added to almost any phone, but there’s a drawback

While my current Pixel 2 XL phone (at right) did not come with Qi wireless charging built in, Scanstrut and many other suppliers can provide a compitable charging pad that plugs into a phone’s normal charging port while sticking to the back and/or living inside a case. Actually, I verified Scanstrut’s claim that the various Rokk chargers “work with most slimline phone cases up to 3mm” — at least with the two phone setups above and the Rokk Surface.

Using the Rokk Wireless Surface was wonderfully easy, though I did learn that positioning the phone for maximum charge is important (and that a good app like AccuBattery can help find the sweet spot). I also missed the “fast charging” that both phones are capable of…

Various types of fast phone charging use higher voltages

Fast phone charging use higher voltages, but there are several standards

So let’s digress a bit to fast phone charging, which I’ve found very useful though also irritating. Specifically, a Qualcomm Quick Charge USB charger could top up my old power-hungry Samsung Note 5 at least twice as fast as a normal 5v USB charger — as indicated by the unusual 9.2 volts at 1.1 amps seen above — but when I switched to the Pixel 2 XL it needed different fast charge accessories. Argh.

In fact, wired fast phone charging seems to be a standards mess, and of course I wondered how Scanstrut and Qi handles it. I’ve learned that Qi is the dominant wireless charging standard with many phones supported and it does include a fast charge mode. But Scanstrut doesn’t currently provide Rokk Wireless fast charging…

“due to the amount of heat that the fast charge QI units emit. Thermal cut out for most phones is 34C, which is fine if you’re in your home, however if you’re out on a boat in direct sunlight and your fast wireless charger is heating the phone along with the sun, then your phone will cut out and stop charging. So we thought having your phone charge a touch slower (and cooler) but continue to work was the more important.”

I agree that wireless fast charging may not be a big deal in the real life of many people, especially because it’s so effortless to use when the charger is at your helm, or near your desk or bed. Actually, I liked this type of charging so much that I bought an inexpensive AC wireless charger for my desk. But when I still needed a fast charge from time to time, the bother of removing the accessory wireless pad persuaded me to wait until I own a phone with Qi inside, which should easily work either way.

The newer Rokk Active (and Edge) models hold the phone & also center the charging coils

The newer Rokk Active (and Edge) models hold the phone & also center the charging coils

If and when I do own a phone with wireless charging built in, I’ll certainly be interested in the Rokk Wireless Active model announced last spring. It can hold a phone solidly in place on a tippy boat while also auto centering the induction charging coils inside both the phone and the mount for maximum charge. And Panbo readers won’t have to wait long for testing info on the similar Rokk Edge model — which adds phone position flexibility with a smaller install footprint — because Ben Stein almost has one.

This article was syndicated from Panbo

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