CES 2010: Charge of the wireless brigade

CES 2010 saw a broad range of products in one particular category that take many of the headaches out of your everyday life. The humble charger is having a makeover

3D TV and ebooks may have grabbed the headlines at CES 2010, but we noticed another theme of the show that's already in your living rooms, in your pockets and all around you. As we carry around more gadgets, drawing ever more power, in a world where power consumption is a hot-button issue, charging solutions were everywhere.

Here are some examples, from old-school battery boys Duracell and Energiser, to intelligent charging, to the super-coolness that is wireless charging.

Our main picture shows a Duracell MyGrid wireless charging mat. Wireless charging lets you slap your phone or MP3 player down on the charging mat, with inductive charging transferring power to the device via a combination of electromagnetic fields and magic. Update: The MyGrid looks suspiciously like the cheaper WildCharge mat, and is likely to be licensed.

Powermat leads the way in wireless charging. Hang on, we should have said "leads the charge". Dreadful puns aside, Powermat has built batteries for assorted phones. Swap the battery in and you'll be able to whack your phone down on any Powermat surface without having to encase your phone in a special jacket. That doesn't cover the iPhone yet, sadly, with its notorious non-user-replaceable battery, but Powermat says it's working on a solution for Apple devotees.

Several exhibitors talked about 'vampire power', the wasted power drawn by items on standby. In these days of renewable this and sustainable that, wasting power is about as socially acceptable as molesting badgers. Even if you don't care one jot about your carbon footprint, every wasted watt is wasted wonga -- hence a number of intelligent chargers that keep track of when your device is full up, and stop charging accordingly.

iDapt offers a pad, pictured above, containing multiple hard charging points. The i3 and i4 include three slots, into which you place charging tips for your devices. The i4, due later this year, includes an LED to tell you when your device is charged. Still, this kind of hard charging point is starting to look rather outdated.

Charging is a boring subject until you find yourself out and about without a source of power. From losing tunes as you set off on your commute to seeing your phone die when you're halfway up a mountain, watching that little battery icon go red and disappear is one of the biggest annoyances of our always-on world. That's where devices such as the Easy Energy YoGen come in. It's a wind-up, hand-powered charger outputting up to 6W via mini-USB and assorted adaptor tips.

If you're all about sustainable energy, or just lazy, you can harness the power of the sun. Like Superman. Solio offers a range of solar chargers, including this three-bladed version.

Even more renewable was the range of HYmini chargers that packed in a mini wind turbine. This particular model charges AA batteries by wind and sun. Make one that runs off snow and pizza crusts, and your Crave team would never need to pay another electricity bill ever again.

It's not just mobile phones and MP3 players that require charging occasionally. Battery bunny Energiser showed off this car battery jumpstarter unit.

Wireless charging may not be as sexy as 3D television, but it could be the technology from CES that has the most impact on our everyday lives. The days of wandering around the office plaintively imploring "does anyone have a Nokia charger?" have never seemed so long ago.

 

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