TYLT Vu Car: Finally, a wireless car charger that really works

imageAs a photographer that travels a lot and relies on my smartphone for directions, music, email, and photo-related applications, it is important for me to be able to securely mount my phone in cars and trucks – both mine and rental vehicles. Just as important, it needs to charge effectively on long trips. Ideally, the charging would be wireless, which really helps with convenience and cable management. I’ve tried quite a number of car mounts – both wired and wireless – without finding one that met all my needs. Until I tried the new TYLT Vu Car (wireless)…

Animated-arm-span[1]The TYLT Vu Car is very well designed and powerful enough to charge my Galaxy S4 even while I’m using it with Google Maps and playing audio over Bluetooth. The design starts with a very secure windshield mount, that would also work on a flat dashboard, but not on a dashboard like mine that is “pebbled” (to use it with my dashboard I secured it to a glued-down disk, but mostly I just use it mounted to the windshield). But the best part of the design is the awesome quick-release clamp. It has two large, padded jaws that will securely hold just about any size smartphone (up to 6-inches, anyway). That’s important for off-roading or even for windy roads. The quick release is a simple button in the back that allows easy removal of the phone. The TYLT Vu Car comes with two different bottom brackets – one solid and one with an opening that allows you to put you thumb or finger in place to press buttons on the bottom of your phone. I found the slotted one plenty stable and much more convenient for quick access to my phone’s “Home” button.

Just as important as a good design is fast charging. Many wireless chargers can’t handle fully recharging a modern smartphone while it is in heavy use. Fortunately, the TYLT Vu Car unit can. I was able to maintain, and even increase, the battery charge level while driving with Google Maps navigation and listening to podcasts or music over Bluetooth connected to the car.

charging-end[1]One other nice feature of the TYLT Vu Car is an additional USB charging port on the cigarette lighter adapter. That means you can easily charge a second USB device, such as your tablet, right from the Vu’s cord. All in all there is a lot to like about the Vu Car. If you need an excellent wireless car charger and can make the $80 price tag work, it is the best unit I’ve seen.

Adding wireless charging to your phone

vu-mate-hero_l[1]Unfortunately, most phones still don’t come with built-in wireless charging. But if they have a removable back, it can be fairly easy to add. I’ve done this with Galaxy S3, S4, and S5 phones, all with good success. There are plenty of options (you can find them with a simple search on Amazon), but I’ve pictured TYLT’s own VU-MATE models here to give you an idea of what they look like. Basically they are simple charging antennas that rest on top of your battery and below the back cover of your unit. Alternatively, Samsung sells its own charging backs for some models.