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The Perfect Charger (Almost)

Time:2016-11-25 18:00Shoes websites Click:

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And since it can charge five doodads at once, the mat also reclaims four power outlets on your wall, freeing them up for more important jobs; the mat’s own power cord uses only a single wall socket. If you’re a business traveler, you’ll find the apparatus simpler and lighter to carry than a mess of black wall warts.

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The first time you plop your BlackBerry or Razr onto the WildCharge and see it light up with the “battery charging” message, without your having had to fiddle with a single cord, plug or connector, you can’t help smiling. This, you think, is how things should work.

Now, WildCharge is not the only company pursuing the dream of cordless-recharging surfaces on desks, counters and bureaus. A number of companies are working on it — or have gone out of business trying.

WildCharge, however, is the first company to bring such a product to market. The difference, it says, is in the technology it uses. Its rivals are trying to incorporate something called wireless inductive power, where rapidly changing magnetic fields transfer the power. That’s how cordless electric toothbrushes get recharged. The advantage is that you don’t need visible metal contacts to conduct the power; the disadvantages are low efficiency, susceptibility to interference — and, evidently, difficulty bringing a product to market.

The WildCharge uses conductive power, meaning that the little metal charging terminals on your phone, iPod, or whatever come in direct contact with the charging mat’s metal strips. There’s no radiation. There are no magnetic fields, either, so there’s no danger to credit cards, hard drives or videotapes. And there are no electric shocks; if flesh, liquid or some metal object touches the metallic strips on the pad, the power cuts off instantly (yes, I tried it, and felt nothing but relief). The charging resumes once the offending object, puddle or limb is removed.

All right, so the charging mat works like a charm, it solves all kinds of problems and it’s wicked cool. So what about the trade-off — the WildCharge’s equivalent of the chain mail, the exercise bike and the 72-page form?

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The WildCharge mat powers up several devices at once, but it works with only certain models.

The problem is that the electricity somehow has to find a pathway from the charging pad to the gadget. Any WildCharge-compatible gadget has four tiny raised nubbins on its back panel, metal pinhead contacts strategically arranged so that they’ll get the necessary power no matter how sloppily you toss the device onto the pad. Unfortunately, no gadgets are made that way today.

Therefore, you have to retrofit each of your existing appliances with back-panel contact dots — at a price of $35 apiece. For the BlackBerry Curve and BlackBerry Pearl, you get a rubbery silicone “skin” that slips over the phone like a galosh. Not only does this skin have the requisite contact points on the back, but it doubles as a handy protective case for the BlackBerry itself.

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(As a bonus, the BlackBerry skin leaves the phone’s traditional charging jack — the little USB jack on the side — unobstructed. The BlackBerry happens to have a second set of charging contacts, intended for charging docks, on the back panel. They connect to the WildCharge skin.)

For the Motorola Razr phone, the retrofit is much sleeker: you get a replacement back panel (battery cover) for the phone. This approach adds no bulk to the phone in your pocket, although there’s a two-inch rubber arm that snakes down to the phone’s charging jack. You have to yank it out when you want to plug anything else in there. (Be sure you order the correct panel for your phone. There are more than a dozen Razr models, but WildCharge panels are available only for the V3, V3c, V3e and V3m.)

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