nonda ZUS Smart Car Charger Review

Installation and Use
It seems that nonda tried their best to make using the ZUS as simple as possible.

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Following the easy to use included instructions we start by downloading the app and getting it set up on our Android device.

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To use the device nonda requires you to create an account. You can do this through your existing Facebook account or by signing up for an unconnected account.

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Once you sign up you must turn on your phone’s location based services. In fact, in order to use the GPS based portion of ZUS location service must be left on.

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With the app set up, go ahead and plug in the charger to your preferred 12V port. The LED lights on the charger should light up and start blinking as ZUS attempts to connect to your phone.

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The app should quickly connect to the device and report that “ZUS is connected”. If you are not going to use ZUS at this point simply press the home button and the app continues to run in the background.

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There is very little that you can mess around with inside the app, but let’s go ahead and check out what there is. Right on the main screen there is a live Google Maps powered tab that will show you the location of ZUS (presumably also your vehicle) as well as your location once the vehicle is turned off. Hitting the settings button (gear) you will find a tab for advanced settings as well as a tab for product referral, and support. Finally at the bottom there is an easy removal button over top of the software and firmware versions. Going down into the advanced settings menu you will find a switch for turning parking notifications on or off as well as a toggle for the units of measure displayed. Back on the main screen there is a tab button in the upper left which displays your registered ZUS’ and at the bottom is a log-out button. And that is it, nonda has set up this software to be very simple and straight-forward. One thing we would have like to see was maybe a charge rate and duration tab for connected devices.

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Once you park and shut off the engine (cutting power to the charger), the current GPS coordinates are logged in the app. Now in the main screen there is a compass telling you the general direction of your parked vehicle as well as the distance away. Additionally when you bring up the map there is now an icon for both the vehicle as well as your phone’s current location.

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Also available to you is a parking timer. Easily set a timer to let you know how long you have been parked. This is especially useful if you are parked at a meter and don’t want to run out of time. The time is displayed on the main page and an alert will go off on your phone when the time has run out.

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While the idea behind ZUS is pretty clever, and the device and app seem really well designed and built the actually usage I found to be a little clunky. The first thing you will notice when using the app to find your vehicle is that the distance always has an error range of +/- some distance. I’ve never seen this range be smaller than 50 feet. Additionally it won’t exactly guide you right up to your vehicle. The best I have had was the device getting me to within 20 feet. This is pretty good, but there could be a time when it’s not quite close enough, say your line of sight to the car is blocked.

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My other major use issue with ZUS is that it is basically unusable from within a building. Specifically when it has a poor GPS signal it can’t get you started in any direction. So say you are wandering around a mall for hours and simply forget where you even entered the mall from. ZUS is not going to be able to help you find the correct exit. You could end up exiting the building hundreds of feet or more from your vehicle and not know it until the GPS syncs back up. And in inclement weather this could be a real problem.

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Other than the somewhat buggy distance tracking, due presumably and simply to the way your phone’s GPS is working off multiple cell towers to triangulate your closest position, the device works great. In my use it was always pointing me in the right direction at the very least.

As far as charging is concerned it did a fair job of building my charge back up on both ends of my commute. I can’t say it was noticeably faster than my old 12V charger, but it certainly works well and with two devices simultaneously as well. nonda claims to have nearly half the charge time of other charging devices, which it might, but that is quite relative to which devices they are comparing to.