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Power Wireless Networking Hardware

Cutting the Power Cable: How Advantageous Is Wireless Charging? 284

Lucas123 writes "Furniture and auto makers are already ramping up production of wireless charging for mobile devices that will also allow I/O for music and data synchronization. Thanks to the widely accepted Qi standard, there shouldn't be a problem with interoperability, but how advantageous is wireless charging? Would it really offer more charging opportunities for mobile users in coffee shops who are today hamstrung by how many outlets are available? And then there's the added cost and reduced efficiency. As wireless systems are more complicated, a wireless battery charger will be more expensive and there are resistive losses on the coil, stray coupling, etc."
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Cutting the Power Cable: How Advantageous Is Wireless Charging?

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  • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @03:45PM (#41304369)

    Plugging it in is no bigger a deal than laying it on a charging pad.

    I bought one of those firesale HP touchpads. They have wireless charging with a special stand and it is the single best feature of the device. Plugging in to charge sucks - there is wear-and-tear on the mini-usb port, the fiddling to get everything lined up requires good lighting and too much time. With the wireless charging stand, it is dead simple - just put it on the stand, listen for the "bonk" sound the OS makes when charging starts and everything just works. It is so much more convenient that wireless charging is now mandatory for any of my future phone and tablet purchases.

  • by Above ( 100351 ) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @03:47PM (#41304401)

    Each time I read a wireless charging article I find people who seem incapable of believing how simply most consumers will use this technology. Consumers don't want wireless charging primarily for use at a coffee shop, or on the bus, or in a train. They aren't, for the most part, interested in the ability to top off at the airport. No, for all of those things consumers have always demanded enough battery life to make it through the day without needing to recharge. Preferably several days. Most phones deliver, at least for the right usage patterns.

    Wireless charging is all about forgetting to charge at home, and the inconvenience of 25 different chargers. Sitting next to me are propretary chargers for proprietary devices. A digital SLR. A digital point and shoot. An old cell phone. A new cell phone. A camcorder. Some regular AA's for my Apple wireless keyboard. The number of wall warts and specialty cables is astounding and annoying. Even if all the tech wasn't a disaster, sometimes I'm just tired and forget to charge my phone overnight.

    This is why wireless is such a sexy idea. Imagine a wireless charging pad where you store your cameras, and one on your bedside table. You just toss your phone or cameras on it at night, wake up and it is charged. No plugging in cables. No row of wall warts. No incompatible battery chargers. No running out of outlets along a segment of counter.

    Wireless charging's killer app is at home. One charging "area" for multiple devices. Make it cheap enough I can afford one by my desk, in my kitchen, and at my night stand and my gizmos will never run out of juice again, and topping off at a coffee shop, airport, or other place will diminish in need.

  • by Obfuscant ( 592200 ) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @03:55PM (#41304535)
    will be the lost cellphone recovery services.

    Imagine how many people will walk away from their cellphones after they've put them on the table at the coffee shop. The old adage "keep it in your pants" will take on a whole new life.

  • by Algae_94 ( 2017070 ) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @04:21PM (#41304887) Journal

    A typical person in the Western world uses, on average, 2+ kW. That's not 2kWh per day, that's 2+ kWh EACH AND EVERY HOUR.

    Can you back this up a bit? You're saying that the average Westerner uses 48+ kWh every day. That's well over a megaWatt hour every month (and closer to 1.5 MWh). Does this figure include the average person's share of the power used for street lights, traffic lights, businesses, etc.?

  • by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @07:53PM (#41307153) Journal

    What's with all the contrarians? Why do we need wireless charging? For the same reasons your phone has WiFi and not an RJ45 port...

    As a heavy Android phone user, I'm anxiously awaiting some wireless charging standard. I have wall-warts all over my house, so that wherever I sit, I can plug-in... Because cell phones just can't handle even a half day of heavy use between recharges. And even if one could, I wouldn't want to cut it that close.

    So now, my cell is perpetually tethered to a microUSB cable, getting pulled off tables onto the floor, getting tugged when I try to move it and there's not enough slack, getting stress on the cable and socket when I want to set it on the armrest right where the plug is sticking out, and always fumbling with putting the connector in the right way, and pulling it out when I go, or it becomes a particular nusiance, maybe 10x a day.

    What's more is the nusiance of travel... I've got a cigarette lighter to microUSB plug for driving, then I've got to carry a wall adapter for motel rooms, conference rooms, or whatnot, and then supplament that with a AA battery to microUSB adapter when I'm not within reach of a power outlet, but still need to use my phone heavily. Times like flying in particular.

    All that stuff is much, much larger than my cell phone, and could be eliminated from my bag if restaurants, hotels, cars, passenger jets, and conference rooms had them built-in.

    Now let's consider that I carry two or more devices around... One phone needs one charger, while the other phone won't charge from it at all. Wall chargers break USB specs in multiple, and mutually incompatible ways. That's why we have items like the Skiva QuadPower, which has one port that works on Apple devices, one port that works on Android devices, and two generic USB ports that are needed for Palm/Blackberry/BREW/Nokia/etc devices, that won't charge from the other ports.

    And that's just getting started. Throw in tablets, or netbooks/ultrabooks, or even laptops. Tablets are almost always able to charge from USB, even if only very slowly, because we've built the modern world on the non-standard USB charging standard, and everyone wants to be able to get some charge out of it in the worst case. But the low voltage and power of USB leads to far more contortions than even smartphones have to contend with... And all because USB is such a poor charging standard. I'd sure love a universal charger, but even low power netbooks/ultrabooks don't even try to use USB, because the voltage is far too low, and they'd have to go nuts to add more special-cases to USB wall chargers.

    We clearly need something better... Something that can supply more than 5v, and a whole lot of amps.

    Who wouldn't want to have a flat pad they can put on their coffee table, that automatically starts charging any device you set on it? Laptop, cell phone, tablet, maybe laptop batteries not currently connected, etc. Throw in TV remote controls, flashlights, cordless keyboards/mice, console game controllers, etc., for good measure. It would be an incredible improvement over the current disjointed charging situation. And don't start complaining about efficiency... Even if it's got high losses, being able to top-off everywhere you go is much more efficient than having your battery get drained.

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