A Gift For Geeks: Charge!

two-chargersCell phones, tablets & related accessories are very personal items. I am increasingly of a mind that items of technology are too personal to be a gift. However, there are a few some cases where that’s not true. For example, unusual chargers.  In particular, high-current USB chargers built into standard receptacles.

These handy devices cost around $20 and are available from a variety of sources. Locally, I have found them at Lowe’s and Home Depot, although Amazon has a great selection which afford you the opportunity to match a particular décor. Those who are handy with a screwdriver might include the act of installation along with the gift itself.

If that’s not your thing, you might consider a wireless charger. Where a year ago wireless chargers were still pricey, in the $50+ range, they have since fallen to $25 or less. It takes a little research to determine if your intended target has a  mobile device that features one of the common wireless charging mechanisms, the most common of which is known as Qi.

From my own experience I know that our Nexus 4, Nexus 5 & Nexus 7 mobile devices all have Qi wireless charging built-in. If their cell phone, like the almighty iPhone,  doesn’t have Qi built-in you can add it by way of aftermarket  wireless receiver. These are also very affordable, and available in designs that fit just about any phone.

Wireless chargers potentially extend the life of the handheld device by avoiding the mechanical wear & tear common to repeated use of the micro-USB charging port. Further, a wireless charging stand puts a tablet at a convenient position resting on a desktop or night stand. That makes it more practical to use the device as an alarm clock or streaming music player. It’s reliably held at an appropriate position even while keeping it continuously powered.

Advanced chargers are good gift ideas.They are items that people usually don’t buy for themselves, yet they can significantly improve quality of life with handheld devices.

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?”

Wired vs Wireless For A Home Office

Wired vs Wireless NetworksNot long ago Colin Berkshire made an interesting observation about a trend in new home construction. He noticed that builders are no longer pulling cable for telephone and network connections, which leads to an “RJ-free” home. This makes a lot of sense for most homes, but it’s not what I would want for a home office.

Of course, Wifi is phenomenally convenient. Hereabouts we use a Ubiquiti PowerAP N device configured as a wireless bridge/access point. We’ve used various devices over the years. The Ubiquiti PowerAP has been without a doubt the best of the bunch. Sadly, the product is not available anymore, although they can occasionally be found on E-bay.

With a population of over forty devices, ours is a considerable home network. While many of the devices we use are connected via Wifi, much of the network remains connected by traditional Ethernet cables. Wired networks are more trouble to install, but the effort is rewarded with more consistent performance and reliability.

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Brough Turner, Netblazr, Freemium & Redundant IP For SOHO

This video is Brough Turner at the International Summit for Community Wireless Networks 2010 in Vienna. I truly admire the way this man thinks.

To be plain, anyone who works from a home office professionally should not be without redundant IP connectivity. Period.

In my case it’s Comcast Business Class cable backed by Covad DSL. However, I’d jump on Netblazr in a New York minute if they were offering the service in Houston. I very nearly switched to Sprint’s ill-fated point-to-point terrestrial wireless as my backup plan before it was discontinued.

That Netblazr is leveraging beam-forming via consumer hardware, and without a truck-roll, is absolutely perfect. I’m  not a big fan of the freemium business model, but I’d pay for their service.

Gigi Sohn Of Public Knowledge On AT&T+T

Public Knowledge President Gigi B. Sohn testifies on the AT&T-T-Mobile merger before the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee on May 11, 2011. I caught a portion of the testimony via the web stream. You can find that C-SPAN coverage here.

I found that AT&T’s arguments for the merger were hollow at best, and deceptive at worst. I hope that the Congress will act via the DOJ where it seems unlikely that the FCC will see fit.

For more information, check out http://www.publicknowledge.org/tell-president-obama-stop-unthinkable-att-t-mo….