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Deceptive little device, the Nonda Zus. Plug it into your car’s cigarette lighter socket and it provides you with two usefully illuminated USB sockets ready to power and charge your smart devices. It rapid-charges, and rather cleverly, the USB sockets are reversible, so you can make them convenient for your preferred devices’ easiest orientation. 
 
And from what you can see of the physical device — small, sculptured and illuminated nicely as it is — you might think that was it. But no. No, no, no.
 
Mileage reports
Because look, it has an app. Indeed the full name of the Zus (on the box) is “Connected Car App Suite & Dual USB Car Charger”. You pair it with your smart device, and this adds a raft of additional abilities, chief among them that the Zus will track its position and keep a log of all your journeys. These can be accessed on the app, but also sent to you as weekly (pictured right) and monthly reports (opposite) in an email. Using the app you get a little map of each journey showing distance, time driven and the potential claim you could make to the nice people at the tax office. Mark each journey as either personal or business, and then when your monthly email arrives, there’s your charge summary all ready to hand to the accountant, who will LOVE you for it.
 
It’s important to allow the Zus access to your phone’s location services all the time, i.e. in the background, otherwise it can only log if you have the app open, which you won’t. But this didn’t seem to cause any significant drain on our phone life, and the results speak for themselves (see screenshots). We never once interacted with the Zus in daily driving life — it just sat there and logged. And because we didn’t put the app on the missus’s phone, it only logged our journeys, not hers. (You can have multiple accounts and phones linked to the one Zus, including a ‘Family Share’ function which will allow you to see where another connected user has parked — handy for picking up the wayward car-borrowing kids, even, er, spying on them. Though we didn’t try this.)
 
We should note that we did have trouble pairing initially. Your phone must have Bluetooth and internet and GPS activated, which we did, but we were in a basement without phone coverage — so actually no internet nor GPS available. The pairing is described as Bluetooth, so we hadn’t expected an issue, but as soon as we tried in the open air, the Zus paired immediately, and was off and running.
 
Lost your car?
Since it remembers where you’ve parked, this allows you to find your car should you, er, forget where it was. For us, well, we don’t lose our car very often, being creatures of habit, and as yet of sound mind. But should you park in side streets around a disorientatingly ovoid sports stadium, or if you’re still in that time of life where you wake up in a stranger’s bed not sure where you are, or indeed if you’ve reached that time of life where you’re forgetting where you are as a matter of course, then we could see how handy this might be. Just remember, of course, that multistorey car parking positions may be hampered by a lack of GPS information at the moment of parkage. It is possible to ‘pin’ your location manually using the app, and even add a picture as you leave.
 
Park alarm
On a meter? Set a timer. You don’t strictly need the Zus app for this — any timer app would do, but what other app can lead you back to the car as well? 
 
Car battery monitor
Well why not, it’s plugged into your car battery, so it can keep an eye on its voltage fluctuations and cycles. You can check it via the app, but if it thinks you’re up for a problem, the cloud will email you. Freaky, but handy.
 
Conclusion
So for our money, and not much of it really, we reckon the mileage logs are the handiest of the bonuses over the simple USB charging abilities of the Nonda Zus, while the battery health warning might just save you getting stuck in the garage one morning waiting on the NRMA, and the family sharing might even stop your kids losing your car. Not bad for $69 — and Nonda is now rolling out a whole suite of smart devices... more on the rest next issue. 
 
NONDA ZUS 
Connected Car App Suite & Dual USB Car Charger
Cost: $69
+ Inexpensive, fit-and-forget USB charger 
+ App sends you mileage reports by email
- Not a lot to say against this baby...
 
Type: Twin USB charger with benefits
Features: Fast-charge two devices; 
track mileage and app-connects to send 
you summaries; find your vehicle; battery health check; Family Share function