REVIEWS: Nonda ZUS smart car charger and iHere smart key ring
Name: Nonda ZUS
Type: Smart car finder and USB charger (pictured above)
Specs: Click here for full specs
Name: Nonda iHere
Type: Smart key finder
Specs: Click here for full specs
Californian company Nonda isn’t particularly well known outside the US, but the firm first came to our attention with its crowd funding campaign for its ZUS smart car charger on Indiegogo. Since then we’ve also tested its smart key ring, the iHere, although these aren’t the only smart gadgets the company – which only started in 2014 – has produced. Also available via its website are what’s billed as the smallest USB-C to USB 3.0 Mini Adaptor and the Hub+ which gives you loads of extra ports for your MacBook Air or MacBook Pro including three USB-A, two USB-C sockets and an SD card reader.
Nonda Smart car charger
Plug in USB sockets for the car are now extremely commonplace. With more and more of us relying on charging our gadgets in the car, there has never been a greater need for in car USB. But although most modern cars now have USB sockets, the reality is that if you are driving a car more than a few years old you need a socket that plugs into the cigarette lighter.
The Nonda Smart car charger actually features two USB sockets in one so you can charge two mobile devices (say a mobile phone and an iPad) at the same time. However, that’s not the really clever thing about this gadget. What makes the car charger really ‘smart’ is that it will also automatically set the car’s exact location when it stops and send this information to your mobile phone so you don’t have to worry about where you last left your vehicle.
That’s particularly handy if you left your car in a field at a festival or music concert or even in a large multi storey car park where all the floors tend to look the same.
Like the Nonda ZUS smart car charger, the iHere (pictured above) is also intended to help you find a lost item although in this case it’s primarily intended to help you find your keys or other small items to which it can be attached.
The device is charged via the adaptor on the bottom of the smart triangular-shaped device and this plugs into the USB adaptor on your computer.
Nonda claims that the device can go for several weeks without needing to be recharged, although it’s not something we’re able to confirm yet. However, I have been using the device several days and it is still showing 100% charge so that’s a good thing.
What’s more the handy little device doesn’t just help you find your keys. It can also be used to take selfies, find your car, call your phone, even record voice memos via the companion app should you wish to.
Read on to find out a little more about this slightly random selection of features.
Inevitably both products need to be used with their respective Apple iOS or Google Play apps in order to provide full functionality. Obviously it’s possible to use the ZUS as a standalone USB charger for your car but that would be a little bit of a waste of its undoubted talents. Similarly you need to have the iHere app in order to help find your keys using the smart phone.
How the ZUS works is that it when you park your car and the engine is stopped is it automatically sends a message via Bluetooth to your smartphone which then records your exact GPS location. The app doesn’t need to be open for the location to be stored, but the downside is that obviously ‘Location Services’ need to be switched on the whole time for the app to work.
This can obviously drain the smartphone’s battery which can be a problem especially on an iPhone where as we all know battery life isn’t the best.
Once you’ve parked you get a little message from the app telling you that you’ve parked up and asking you whether you want to set a timer. It’s a really neat feature especially if you are parking in a pay and display car park and want a reminder about when to return to the car to fill up the meter.
To find your way back to the car there are two screens – a standard map display which pinpoints where you are in relation to your car and a compass display (see below) which shows you how far away your car is (in feet or metres) and in what direction.
It will also let you know how long it has been since you parked up.
Nonda iHere app
Slightly different and a little more complex is the Nonda iHere app. Basically this app operates in two modes: Click and Find. The most common way of using it is in Find mode.
So, for example, if you put your keys down in the house and can’t remember where you put them then by pressing the Find button within the iHere’s app an alert will be sent and the key fob will start beeping.
In order presumably to save battery life the iHere uses Bluetooth for the Find function so range is limited to around 25m but that’s enough for use in the house where, let’s face it, you have probably left your keys!
If you are further away than 25m then you will see a map which shows the last known location of the keys.
There is also a ‘separation alarm’ button which means that if your keys and phone part company for whatever reason, the alarm will automatically go off.
Less likely to be used, but interesting nevertheless, is Click mode. In this mode you are presented with four options: Call Phone, Take Selfies, Car Finder and Voice Recorder. With these options you need to press the relevant button on the phone and then use the click button on the front of the iHere.
So, for example, by pressing the Take Selfies button you automatically open up the front facing camera button on the phone. To take a picture you then just press the button on the iHere gadget rather than having to press another button on the phone.
The voice recorder option works in a similar way although I’m even less sure why you would need to use a smart key ring to act as a trigger for the recording.
The car finder option is interesting though because it enables you to set your vehicle’s location via GPS manually whereas with its sister product the Nonda ZUS you need to have GPS enabled the entire time which can drain the battery.
However you do need to press two buttons, first the car finder button within your smartphone’s app, followed by the button on the front of the iHere smart key ring. The distance and direction of your car is then shown within the compass display in a similar way to the ZUS interface.
In a sense it’s difficult to evaluate the performances of these products as they are not intended for everyday use. Instead their function is really for use in times of moderate distress – either you are not sure where you have parked or you can’t remember where you have left your keys (hopefully not an everyday occurrence!)
With the Nonda ZUS I have found myself mainly using the device as a double USB charger rather than a car finder. That’s primarily because I don’t want to leave location services for the app switched on the whole time because it massively reduces battery life.
However it would be quite possible to switch location services on temporarily if you know you are going to park in a field or somewhere without any distinguishing features such as large multi storey park.
The iHere on the other hand has already proved a handy little gadget for finding my keys from my smartphone (I tend to always have my phone by my side but the keys can be anywhere in the house.)
For the person who has virtually everything, these Nonda gadgets are great. They work well and are very reasonably priced. If you’ve ever got lost trying to find your car in a field (as I have done at festivals several times) then you’ll appreciate the ZUS. Similarly, if you can never find your keys when you are planning to leave the house the iHere will prove useful.