Here's the the question: you can charge an iPhone with any AC-to-USB adapter. So how does Apple get off charging $29 for theirs? Ken Shirriff took one completely apart to figure it out, and it turns out, Apple's charger goes above and beyond what's needed--it's legitimately more complex and sturdier and more capable than other chargers. Upgrades include "super-strong AC prongs, and the complex over-temperature / over-voltage shutdown circuit," as well as a bunch of hardware designed to keep electromagnetic interference to a minimum. Of course, the added hardware probably costs a dollar, and Apple sells it for $20 more than competitors, but still! Teardowns: so useful! [via @mattbuchanan]
According to a press release, Sony is fielding proposals for a way to charge users to, well, charge. The technology would allow building owners to require authentication for power outlets, which could be used to reduce unwanted energy usage, but could also be used to demand money from, say, coffeeshop squatters who want to charge their laptops.
A pretty basic fear of the oncoming electric car boom is a concern that charging will be similar to the old cellphone-charger fiasco. Will the owner of a 2017 Mazda Thundersnake have to find particular Mazda charging stations, or will they be able to pull up behind a Chrysler EnFuego? Those fears can be allayed, mostly: seven major automakers have all agreed to adopt a single, universal charging system.
A small hydrogen fuel cell that can charge your gadgets on the go
By Sarah ParsonsPosted 05.20.2011 at 1:03 pm 18 Comments
As humanity goes wireless, the last pesky tether we and our gadgets have to escape is the power cable. Portable, battery-powered chargers tend to be both inefficient--so low-powered they struggle to recharge modern smartphones--and environmentally unfriendly. There have been off-the-grid chargers that rely on renewable energy before, valiantly attempting to rectify those problems, but most are ineffective without a steady source of wind, solar power, or abhorrent manual labor like cranking, yanking, or shaking (ech).
Enter the next generation of outlet-free power: Micro hyrdrogen fuel cells like Horizon's MiniPak. The MiniPak claims to bring the ten times the power of traditional batteries while releasing waste in the form of harmless water vapor. But is it practical?
By Sarah ParsonsPosted 05.13.2011 at 11:44 am 0 Comments
Hydrogen fuel cells have exploded onto the market as convenient chargers for your handheld devices. Plugged in via USB ports, the cells don't have to rely on wind or sun to stave off irritating "battery low!" messages.
Remember the Minty Boost, the DIY battery-powered USB charger for your portable devices that fit neatly in an Altoids tin? It was a decent fix for those constantly failing early iPod batteries, but that 2006 incarnation has had to be updated several times to keep up with the changing architectures of a certain very closed-sourced company's products. Minty Boost recently received yet another DIY update to make it functional with iPhone 3GS. Even better, that update comes with a video showing exactly how to reverse engineer an iPhone charger and create your own backup battery pack.
When my little flashlight or my electric toothbrush goes dead, some atavistic impulse leads me -- and I suspect I'm not alone -- to stare for a moment at the misbehaving gadget and then give it a violent shaking, as though the electrons are stuck and just need a little encouragement.
Soon, thanks to Brother Industries, that caveman approach to technology could actually work. The Japanese company is demonstrating standard AA and AAA batteries that incorporate vibration-powered induction generators, so they actually charge when you shake them.