Ooohhh! This looks cool: USB Charger with a Built-in Ethernet Adapter!

USB-OTG is very handy. It allows someone to connect a variety of different USB devices to a tablet or mobile phone. Most often I’ve made use of a simple USB OTG cable to connect a flash drive or USB headset to one of my devices.

You can also use a USB hub to connect multiple devices, all while keeping the tablet powered. I have on occasion connected a USB headset or Blue Yeti microphone. These I use in conjunction with Audio Tool.

Today I discovered that Google offers a USB charger that has a built-in Ethernet adapter. Called the Ethernet Adapter for Chromecast, it’s just $15 from the play store!

Ethernet Adapter for Chromecast

This is fantastic since it eliminates reliance upon WiFi as the primary means of connectivity! That could make many things, admittedly obtuse things, that I might wish to try more reliable. As I’ve stated previously, wherever possible I prefer to leverage Ethernet over WiFi.

I simply had to have one of these for use with my new nVidia Shield K1 tablet! There’s an open question as to whether it will work with the K1, It only delivers 850 mA, which may not be enough for some devices. At just $15 it’s a risk I’m willing to take. More news to follow once the goody arrives.

Asus Launches Official Charging Docks for Nexus 7

Asus PW100 Qi wireless charging stand for Nexus 7 (2013)I really enjoyed my Nexus 7, so much so that after 18 months of use I bought myself the 2013 edition and gifted the original to a friend. I also had the much delayed charging stand for the original Nexus 7. No such device was available for the newer model, until today.

Today Asus released a pair of charging docks for the little Nexus 7 tablet. The first dock is a wired device featuring an HDMI output port. It’s priced at $50 which seems little steep, but not much more than  the dock I had for the older tablet.

In contrast, the ASUS PW100 Wireless Charging Stand sells for a whopping $90! That seems just a little beyond reasonable for a single position Qi wireless charger. As I’ve mentioned previously, this pricing makes it seem like manufacturers are intentionally limiting the rollout of wireless charging.

Late last year I bought a Qi charger for just $30, gifting it to the Mrs for her Nexus 4. Happily, given the premature demise of her Nexus 4, that charger works just as well for her shiny red Nexus 5.

Needless to say, I will not be ordering the new ASUS PW100 Wireless Charging Stand which is just today available from Amazon.

Why is wireless charging progressing so slowly?

Nexus Wireless ChargerAs you may know Stella and I both carry  Nexus 4 cell phones. Under the Christmas tree there happened to be a Nexus 7 tablet to add to her gadget mix.

Since the Nexus 4 and Nexus 7 are both capable of wireless charging I also bought her one of the Qi-compliant wireless chargers. Stella has a well-documented disdain for wires, so the wireless charger holds considerable appeal.

The Qi standard was created by Wireless Power Consortium in 2009. It’s simply mind-boggling how stupidly rare and costly wireless chargers remain, even though the technology should be by now well-established.

Google’s own Nexus wireless charger, a single position model, costs a whopping $50!

Looking on Amazon I find that there are a number of Qi wireless chargers offered. Single device chargers run $20 – 50, with many in the $30+ range.

Two position Qi wireless chargers, the most practical solution for someone with multiple devices, run from $50 to over $100!

Continue reading “Why is wireless charging progressing so slowly?”

Holiday Gift Idea II: Power To Your People!

Hey, here’s a semi-geeky gift that they’re sure to get a charge out of…a high-current  USB charger built into a common household receptacle. You may recall that I installed a couple of the FastMac USockets some time ago. There’s one at each of our night-stands, conveniently providing power to charge phones and tablets as we sleep.

At the time these things were comparatively rare so I ordered them directly from FastMac. Given my past history in construction and renovation I was able to install these myself. However, the fitting the USocket into the outlet box wasn’t the easiest thing to do. The USockets depth made it difficult to fit the wiring back into the box. I ended up replacing the box with a deeper one in the end.

While on a visit to our local Lowe’s I recently found that they have a similar product made by Cooper. These sell for around $20 and may be more conveniently available to you.

Like the USockets, they replace the existing outlet so you’re going to need to have some facility with tools in order to get them installed. They come in the Decora style so you may need a new cover plate. I see that Amazon has them In several colors, too.

If you’re not so handy with tools around electricity you might consider this alternative from RCA , also found at Lowe’s. For only $15 this one features quick, tool-less installation. It’s designed to plug directly into the existing outlet. Once installed the device sticks out about 1/2” from the wall.

Unlike older USB chargers, all three of these devices provide enough current to satisfy a tablet or high-end smart phone.

I like the fact that these device can’t go missing simply because someone needs to charge something else at the other end of the house. I especially like the fact that I no longer need outlet strips everywhere to accommodate all the chargers.

The Belkin Conserve Valet: Dishonorably Discharged?

valet-charge-smartIn recent years the number of devices that we need to charge daily has constantly grown. Initially it was just our two cell phones. Since they each had unique power connectors each had its own AC adapter that lived near the appropriate night stand. Simple enough. Tidy even.

My Blackberry Bold 9700 was the first cell phone I used the featured the newly common micro-USB power connector. Shortly thereafter we added a Barnes & Noble Color Nook. Both of those devices require high-current chargers, where “high-current” means more than the 500 mA that is actually part of the USB standard.

That’s when things started getting more complicated. We may have achieved standardization of connectors, but still required dedicated chargers for some devices.

Continue reading “The Belkin Conserve Valet: Dishonorably Discharged?”

Rant: American Auto-Makers Still Need a Clue

[Begin music: Beach Boys, “I Get Around”]

Recent projects have had me in Chicago, Milwaukee, Washington DC and Nashville. Suffice it to say that over the past few months I’ve rented cars on several occasions.

[Change music: Max Webster, “Battle Scar”]

Most typically I book what the rental companies call an “SCAR.” That’s their code for a “Standard Car” but I’ve come to believe that it also describes the relationship between domestic auto makers and the auto renting public…scarred.

Continue reading “Rant: American Auto-Makers Still Need a Clue”