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Tag Archives: Power

[CES 2010] RCA Airnergy Charger Harvests Electricity From WiFi Signals

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By Evan Ackerman

This thing is, seriously, the highlight of CES for me (so far) this year. 3D TVs and eBook readers are fine, but there’s nothing amazing about them.

The Airnergy Charger is amazing. This little box has, inside it, some kind of circuitry that harvests WiFi energy out of the air and converts it into electricity. This has been done before, but the Airnergy is able to harvest electricity with a high enough efficiency to make it practically useful: on the CES floor, they were able to charge a BlackBerry from 30% to full in about 90 minutes, using nothing but ambient WiFi signals as a power source.

The Airnergy has a battery inside it, so you can just carry it around and as long as you’re near some WiFi, it charges itself. Unlike a solar charger, it works at night and you can keep it in your pocket. Of course, proximity to the WiFi source and the number of WiFi sources is important, but at the rate it charges, if you have a home wireless network you could probably just leave anywhere in your house overnight and it would be pretty close to full in the morning.

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Here is the really, really unbelievable part: RCA says that the USB charger will be available this summer for $40, and a battery with the WiFi harvesting technology will be available soon after. I mean, all kinds of people are pushing wireless charging, but this would hands down take the cake… It doesn’t need a pad and it’s charging all the time, for free, in just about any urban environment.

We didn’t think you’d believe all this, so we made RCA explain it all on video:

Yeah, we’ll definitely be keeping you updated on this one.

[CES 2010] Flipower Plug-less USB Charger

Flipower Plug-less USB Charger (Image property OhGizmo!)
By Andrew Liszewski

Apple has managed to significantly shrink the size of the AC to USB power adapter it ships with the iPhone, but I think these Flipower devices edge them out just slightly when it comes to their compact size. And the simple secret to slimming them down was to just remove their prongs. Instead, you’ll find a flip out panel that almost looks like a wall socket, and in a way it is. You see the Flipower is designed to sit between a wall socket and a power plug as you can see it doing with the power bar in the upper corner of that photo, and thanks to a set of thin metal wires, it’s able to draw power from the outlet and pass it onto a connected USB device.

The obvious downside of course is that you need to have something plugged into a wall or power bar before the Flipower is actually usable, but in reality finding someplace to do so isn’t really that hard. But it doesn’t really matter since pricing and availability info for the US, or anywhere, are currently unknown.

[ Powertech ]

Panasonic Home Storage Battery

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By Evan Ackerman

If you’re one of those uber-hip hipsters with the solar panels on your roof, I envy you and your free electricity. But until somebody invents a solar panel that generates electricity in the dark, there are always going to be times when you’ve got more electricity than you need (high noon) and times when you’ve got less electricity than you need (low noon, aka high moon). If you’ve been generating excess energy, you’ve probably been selling it back to your energy company at a tidy profit, but that doesn’t exactly help you achieve grid independence… The way to do THAT would be through some kind of energy storage system, which lets you store up excess energy and use it when you need it. This is just what Panasonic would like to install in your house, in the form of a giant lithium ion battery.

This household battery, which Panasonic says should be able to power the average home (whatever that means) for a solid week, will be available sometime in 2011. It will be somehow hooked up to your TV, which will allow you to monitor energy usage. We don’t yet have any information on how much this thing will cost, but I bet it’ll be hard to justify in terms of storage benefits and cost savings (and possibly convenience) versus the up-front cost of the system. As with most micro-energy generation systems, it’ll probably end up being more of a feel-good measure than an actual boost to efficiency, but at least it’ll keep your computer on for an extra week when the revolution comes and there’s no more grid power.

VIA [ Physorg ]

Dual USB Wall Charger

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By Evan Ackerman

While we’re still (apparently) a long way away from the mythical standardization of cell phone chargers, more and more phones (and other gadgets like portable music players and digital cameras) have come to rely on (or at least accept) USB connections for recharging. The current supplied by most USB connections probably won’t charge your gadget as fast as whatever proprietary wall plug that came with it, but the epic level of convenience of only needing one plug and one cable more than makes up for it.

Unless you need to charge two things at the same time, in which case multiple powered USB ports are a necessity. Your laptop probably has multiple powered USB ports, but sometimes leaving your laptop plugged in and turned on just to charge some stuff isn’t especially convenient, sometimes you don’t want to carry around your laptop at all, and sometimes you just don’t want to deal with all the crap that happens when you plug something in that also uses USB to transfer data.

So after all that ranting, you’re probably expecting some kind of fantabulous thing that will solve all of your USB charging needs. Sorry. All I’ve got is this wall jack that has TWO USB charging plugs instead of ONE. And it’s small and black and has foldy plugs. And it only costs $7. Find it at USB Geek.

VIA [ CrunchGear ]

Powerzoa Internet Connected Outlet Adapters

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By Evan Ackerman

Powerzoa is a little cube that sits in between a wall socket and your electronics. It has the magical ability to turn power on and off all by itself while monitoring energy usage, and each Powerzoa cube includes some kind of wireless internet connection that interfaces with a website that lets you track how much power you waste and gives you the option of turning each individual cube’s power off. Powerzoa touts these features as a great way to “save electricity, lower energy costs, and help the environment.” And that’s, you know, great. But for me, the big appeal is the ability to turn individual appliances and lights and stuff on and off over the internet.

Powerzoa is almost identical in principle to the Visible Energy UFO, except at the level of an individual socket as opposed to a power strip. While the Visible Energy UFO is supposed to be ready to go by the end of this year, Powerzoa is still in the prototype phase, but if it’s cheap enough and easy enough to set up, it could be quite a bit handier thanks to a small form factor.

[ Powerzoa ] VIA [ DVICE ]

9v USB Charger Is An Excellent Excuse To Learn To Solder

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By Evan Ackerman

There are lots of ways to charge USB devices on the go using disposable or rechargeable batteries, but none of them are as small or as cheap as this DIY one. It’s basically just a female USB connector stuck to the top of a 9v battery, with a voltage regulator in the middle to make sure that there’s only 5 volts coming out. Total cost? If you have a soldering iron and a scrap female USB cable, the voltage regulator will run you about $1.59 plus tax at RadioShack (which I refuse on principle to call “The Shack” like they want me to). The real beauty of this thing is that you don’t have to use a 9v battery. You could use a whole series of D batteries, for example, and go on vacation for a month with your iPod.

Now, yes, you do have to know how to solder if you want to make one of these yourself. But seriously, soldering is easy. And it’s fun! You get to MELT METAL! You can pick up a basic soldering set at The Shack for all of eight bucks, and there are a bazillion beginner guides online (try Instructables or even YouTube). So, have a fun afternoon and learn a useful skill while making a handy little gadget at the same time. Or, you can always just do it with glue, you wimp.

[ AnythingButiPod ] VIA [ Gizmodo ]

OhGizmo! Review – Duracell Instant USB Charger

Duracell Instant USB Charger (Image property of OhGizmo!)
By Andrew Liszewski

It’s no secret that advancements in battery technology have not kept pace with advancements in gadgetry. Smartphones equipped with giant LCD displays that are capable of playing movies, surfing the web, GPS’ing your location, taking photos and even occasionally making calls are great and all, but they’ve made the ugly downside of poor battery life even more of an issue.

Now sure, it would be fantastic if companies like Duracell stumbled across some miraculous solution to the problem in their research labs, but for the moment external backup batteries like their Instant USB Charger are the next best thing. I had a chance to try it out, and you can read my full review after the jump.

Continue Reading

Belkin Conserve Surge Powerbar With Built-in Timer

Belkin Conserve Surge Powerbar (Image courtesy Belkin)
By Andrew Liszewski

Belkin’s new Conserve Surge powerbar features a built-in timer that will automatically cut power to six of the 8 outlets after 11 hours. The idea is that an employee will turn the powerbar on in the morning when they get to work, starting the 11 hour countdown, and by the time the clock runs out, they should in theory have already gone home. It’s designed to reduce the amount of electronics that are still wasting energy when they’ve gone into a standby mode, and to ensure that power isn’t accidentally cut off when it’s still needed, a flashing light will warn when the timer is about to run out, allowing you to override the auto-off. $34.99 available now.

[ PR – Belkin’s Conserve Surge with Timer Reduces Energy-Related IT Costs at the Workstation ] VIA [ SlashGear ]

OhGizmo Review: iGo Netbook Charger

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By Colin Ackerman

We’ve been fans of iGo’s power accessories for a while; with a system of interchangeable tips to charge as many gadgets as you own (almost) from any source iGo supports, you have to carry around far less self-tangling cableage keep all of your stuff juiced up and happy. iGo’s latest offering is a Netbook Charger, designed specifically for, uh, netbooks. It’s just like the power brick that came with your netbook, with few key exceptions: it can power any netbook you have a tip for, it includes a powered USB port, and it’s pretty. Read all about it, after the jump.Continue Reading