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.

Zus Power Reading

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.

Zus Car Location

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 $49, 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!

Source: Indiegogo

Zus

9.1

Design And Form Factor

10.0/10

Portability

10.0/10

Ease Of Use

9.0/10

Affordability

7.5/10

Pros

  • Good at determining charge rate
  • It finds your car for you
  • Already exists (unlike many other indiegogo products)

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Requires GPS at all times
  • Distance estimation not so great

About the author

Nick Schiwy

Nick is an tech enthusiast, programmer and general geek. He works full time in the IT field but still has plenty of time to keep up with all of the tech gossip that is going around!

20 Comments

  • It locates using Bluetooth which means by the time it can locate you can probably already see the car. A better solution is to put a pin in google maps as to the location of your car and take a couple of location photos with your telephone camera.
    The fact of it having military heat resistant plastic – could be useful if you live in Saudi Arabia.

    • It doesn’t locate using Bluetooth, that doesn’t make any sense. I locates by “dropping a pin” in its own GPS system when it disconnects from Bluetooth (which happens automatically when you turn your car off if your 12v outlet turns off when your engine is off). Though it’s been updated since I wrote this to allow you to snap a picture of your car if it fails to get your location (which does happen sometimes, particularly in parking garages).

      • It’s unique feature is that is made of a plastic that can take 100 degrees C. In what way is that useful?
        Your phone can drop a pin on a map in seconds.
        Most cars have built in charger points now anyway. If not you can buy perfectly good ones for a few dollars.
        As for it allowing you to take a picture of the cars location – any smartphone will do that without permission.

        • Yes, but this app/device allows you to do all of that without needing root or creating a profile on tasker. You’re right that you can do it pretty easily manually but this happens automatically when you get out of the car. You’re forgetting, though, that this is a smart charger too, which is unique to most car chargers. That said, if you don’t like the idea of it then don’t buy it.

          • But Nick, •the• unique feature (which they push as a selling point) is that it is made from military grade plastic and titanium (which I doubt). But let’s assume it’s true – in what circumstances is it useful that it can take 100 degrees heat?
            As for the smart charger – if this $23 device damages my $1000 iPhone – will the Zus manufacturer compensate me, because Apple will say I shouldn’t have used a non Apple charger?

            Another point – were you remunerated in any way for writing the review by Zus?

          • No. I didn’t receive any payment for writing the review – what’s more, I didn’t even get paid for writing for TechDissected.

            To answer your question about the heat resistance, the inside of a car can reach very high temperatures during the summer. When it is 70 degrees outside, the inside of the car can reach 115 degrees after an hour in the sun. (Citation: https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/Estimated-Vehicle-Interior-Air-Temperature-v.-Elapsed-Time.aspx) Having it MIL-STD-810G rated is probably overkill, but it’s not unwise for something that will be subjected to temperatures in excess of 100 degrees on a regular basis to be at least somewhat resistant to those kinds of temperatures.

            As for whether it can damage your phone, I can’t vouch for that (I’m not an electrical engineer) however, based on what I do know this is probably a safer charger than any random charger on Amazon because it decides what current to sent to your phone based on what the phone asks for rather than just sending a high amperage (which is the type of thing that could damage your battery or charging port). If you’re the kind of person that only buys Apple accessories for their iPhone, then do that, but you should know that you’re probably not going to make a difference to the phone if you use non-Apple accessories (particularly since you’ll probably get rid of the phone after two years or less).

          • Why would that require root permissions? Theee are plenty of car locatoe apps that don’t require root.

          • Any app that’s designed to do this is obviously going to work fine and if there are other apps that will do this then that’s great. I think what I was referring to is the fact that it would require root to turn on/off GPS location service to grab location with an app like tasker based on disconnecting from your car’s Bluetooth stereo.

  • Will this work pulled into 12v auxiliary port? When car turns off, Port still powered.

    • If I understand how it works correctly, this would be less than ideal because the app wouldn’t mark the location until you’re out of range of the ZUS’ Bluetooth signal. That means that you’re probably not going to get very precise results. If you are parked in the middle of the desert and need to find your car, that probably won’t be a problem, but in a crowded parking lot it wouldn’t quite fit the bill.

      • Thanks for the reply. I thought so too, but wanted to ask. Big received my zus yesterday. Thanks again

  • Guys if you like nonda products, wants to communicate with other users and help to improve new products, come and join us on nonda forum!

  • Hi gents, may I ask if ZUS smart charger will drain my car battery since it will be connected all the times, day and night and it need the power to keep sending the signal of the car location, that,s why I am kind of worry about the car battery

    • Hi Sam! The Zus uses Bluetooth to connect to your phone, which finds the location. Though I don’t recommend using a 12v port that is hot when the car is off (will lead to far less precise locations), it should not drain your car battery more than a standard phone charger

  • I have one and it is awesome. The location that it sends to your phone is close enough to find your vehicle in a crowded lot especially if you have a remote to blow the horn

  • Hi Nick. Could you please tell me what the built distance is from A ZUS. As i live in Amsterdam Holland in the Netherlands. Every dag i park my car some where else. Can never park outside my house.I have a GPS TRACKER a small square one. From the 30 times i called it. It worked once.Not very happy with it. So i was thinking of buying a ZUS or a trackR. what would say is the best. i do need a good charger though.
    And the ZUS and TRACKR look about the same price.
    Your Sincerely. Tony.

  • Does the gps locator work if the zus has no power from the cigarette lighter?

    • Hi Craig, the Zus should work when it is turned off because the location is saved on your phone, it isn’t actually talking to the Zus when you’re looking for the car.

  • How much is the range of this product. Can we locate our car even from kilometers away or it works only within few hundred feet. I couldn’t find the answer to this question, hope someone will help.

    • Range is irrelevant. The app saves your location when the Bluetooth connection is lost from the Zus, which means it can be in your pocket and still know where you parked your car because it’s just a saved location marker.