Cords? The Wireless Power Consortium Thinks They’re Old-Fashioned

Subject: Mobile | January 13, 2012 - 02:27 PM |
Tagged: CES, wireless power, wireless, tablet, smartphone, mobile, charging

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Where was the most interesting technology at CES? Intel’s booth? Nope. Nvidia’s booth? Guess again. Perhaps you could find it at Qualcomm’s stand? Guess again.

If you ask me, the most interesting technology was tucked away in the back of the lower level of the South Hall, which is where you’ll find smaller companies and organizations that have decided to forgo a normal booth and instead just rent out space for a meeting room. That’s where you’ll find The Wireless Power Consortium and its Qi wireless power standard. 

Wireless power is exactly what it sounds like. You may have already heard of the charging mats made available by companies like Energizer. These allow users to charge a smartphone simply by placing them in the right location, forgetting about cords entirely.

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Sounds nice, doesn’t it? But there’s been a problem with them – until recently, they’ve all been proprietary. You had to use a special charging case to get the mats to work with your phone and that case wouldn’t work with competing products. You also were limited to charging in your home (or wherever you place the charging mat) which kind of defeats the point. 

To fix this, there must be a standard, and that’s what The Wireless Power Consortium has created. It’s called Qi, and it’s a coil-based charging solution that can be implemented in all sorts of mobile devices. Currently the standard can handle up to 5 watts and can work within 5mm, but both of these figures are to be expanded. New technology that can handle 10 watts is being tested, and the hope is for 120 watts to be achievable in the near future. That would allow for wireless charging of PCs and appliances. 

But enough about the specifications. Why am I excited about Qi? Let me explain.

Many current smartphones have mini-USB ports for one reason only – charging. Everything else, from syncing music to downloading files, can be achieved through a wireless connection. If that port could be removed entirely, it would allow for more design flexibility. Take the current Droid Razr, for example. It is extremely thin except for a bulge that houses the camera and the ports. If you could charge your phone wirelessly, designers would have one less port to design around.

Battery life is another part of this equation. As technology in our mobile devices continues to improve at an amazing rate, battery technology doesn’t seem able to keep up. I know – I own a HTC Thunderbolt. My phone has notoriously bad battery life with 4G LTE enabled. 

One solution is to make batteries bigger, but that increases weight, size and cost. Wireless power offers an alternative – make charging easier and more frequent. If you had wireless power in your car, at work and at home, your phone could easily maintain a high level of charge. And since it’s wireless, you don’t have to do anything except place your phone in the right place. 

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The Wireless Power Consortium booth – er, meeting room – had some interesting examples to show me.  One was a table with a built-in Qi compatible charger that can be deployed at restaurants, coffee shops and other places. In fact, some such tables can already be found in Japan and China. They number only in the hundreds, but it’s start.

For our Asian friends, who use more public transportation and tend to live in more densely packed cities, charging tables make a lot of sense. But here in North America we tend to get around with our own private vehicles. To help the standard get traction here, The Wireless Power Consortium is working with auto manufacturers to place wireless charging in automobiles. They hope that we’ll see it offered in a few vehicles starting the 2013 model year. 

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There are a lot of pieces that need to find their place in order for Qi to really take off, but they at least have the necessary partners including big names like Motorola and Texas Instruments, among many others. Keep an eye on this over the next year – it could end up being a true game changer. 

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

BigFoot Networks may have found their Killer app

Subject: General Tech | August 10, 2011 - 02:38 PM |
Tagged: killer nic, bigfoot, wireless, Killer-N 1102

The KillerNIC has had an odd relationship with the PC world, with most reviewers initial impression being that of a solution in search of a problem.  In some cases when a person wanted to get fancy with downloading torrents, especially when they were gaming online at the same time, the initial product did offer some advantages.  From there it found its self integrated onto some high end motherboards, offering more features than a regular gigabit NIC but again offering limited benefits.

New to the market is the Bigfoot Killer-N 1102 Wireless N device, integrated into some new laptops.  AnandTech had a chance to try it out; once they could determine a way to review a wireless device.  Finally it seems that BigFoot managed to knock one out of the park, the performance was significantly better than what is offered by the current generic wireless NICs present in most laptops.  Check out why it is such an improvement in their full review.

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"With that out of the way, let’s discuss what Bigfoot brings to the table, specifically with their Killer 1102 part. Note that there is a faster Killer 1103 part now shipping with 3x3:3 MIMO support; we will try to get a sample for future testing, but for now we’ll confine our benchmarks to the 1102. The core hardware actually comes from a well-known wireless networking company, Atheros. The 1102 uses the AR9382 wireless chipset, but Bigfoot has added their own “special sauce” to improve performance."

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Source: AnandTech

More than just a monitor, Samsung's C27A750 27” LCD is a wireless station

Subject: Displays | July 26, 2011 - 02:58 PM |
Tagged: wireless, tn lcd, samsung C27A750, Samsung, 27

The Samsung C27A750 27” Central Station Wireless Monitor is a 27" 1080p TN LCD monitor which is intended to solve your wiring problems.  It sports HDMI and D-sub for video, along with a wireless USB 2.0 dongle but there are also a pair of USB 3.0 ports, a pair of USB 2.0 ports, a 3.5mm jack for speakers and a network port.  Essentially it mimics a multifunctional dock while also being a 27" monitor which can be connected wirelessly to a PC.  As positive as this multi-functional base sounds, Hardware Canucks were disappointed with its physical stability as the base is the same size as the 24" model.  Their testing revealed good points and bad points about the display and dock, perhaps the biggest being that you should not even consider gaming over the wireless connection.  As well, a 27" display at 1080p is not optimal but for use as a secondary display with a laptop, netbook or even smart phone the dock and wireless capabilities are impressive.

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"During this year's CES, Samsung debuted their Central Station technology which promised to combine an all in one connectivity and networking hub into a high performance monitor. This centralized approach will surely appeal to notebook, tablet and netbook users since it can expand screen real estate while eliminating the need to attach unwanted wires to an otherwise quick setup. One of the first products to feature Central Station technology is the C27A750 27” monitor."

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Can you go with wireless HDMI over USB 2.0 with VStream?

Subject: Systems | July 13, 2011 - 12:55 PM |
Tagged: wireless, htpc, hdmi

At its heart the VStream WPCTV1080H is comprised of an L-shaped USB 2.0 dongle for your PC and a second dongle which plugs into the base station which also has a  power cord and HDMI plug.  This setup, along with a 2.4GHz dual core processor, is intended to transmit up to a 1080p signal wirelessly from the computer with the dongle to the base station and on to your TV.  The Tech Report gave the $120 VStream a try and found that the bandwidth available over USB 2.0 caused some problems, ranging from dropped frames and colour banding when watching movies to nasty aliasing on 2D application, especially when they tried using it to connect to a 24 " monitor and used it to browse the web.  Lets hope there is a USB 3.0 version in the works, or even a wireless DisplayPort model.

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"This $120 adapter promises to output 1080p video wirelessly via nothing more than a USB dongle. Does it fulfill its promise, and is it worth the money?"

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Gigabyte goes wireless with their new Aviva mouse

Subject: General Tech | May 5, 2011 - 06:04 PM |
Tagged: mouse, wireless, gaming, gigabyte

Gigabyte has joined in the attempts of many companies to convince gamers that wireless mice are cool.  With 50 hours of battery life and 6500DPI sensor the Aviva M8600 sounds good on paper but until you get it on the mat you will never know how well it performs.  Hardware Secrets were certainly impressed by its ambidexterity, they were just as uncomfortable using it with the left hand as with the right.  No complaints about input lag though.

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"Gamers usually shun wireless peripherals, always wary of a possible energy loss. No one wants to rummage around for a cable and lose an online match. With that in mind, Gigabyte has released a wireless gaming-grade mouse with a long lasting 50 hour battery that comes with an extra battery that you can rapidly switch. Besides those characteristics, the Aivia M8600 reaches 6,500 DPI and features a design for both right- and left-handed users, plus ten reprogrammable buttons. Let's talk first about its physical aspects and then test its wireless operation."

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Can you really stream uncompressed 1080p wirelessly with the brite-View Air SyncHD

Subject: Displays | May 2, 2011 - 06:46 PM |
Tagged: widi, wireless, hd, 1080p, stream

Wireless video streaming is nothing new to PC Perspective, in 2010 we saw Intel's WiDi technology and Ryan was streaming 1080p Iron Man using the Galaxy GeForce GTX 460 WHDI card (aka Little Cthulhu).  A new way to achieve the same results is with the brite-View Air SyncHD which Missing Remote just reviewed.  Read on to see if this is worth ~$230 of your hard earned money.

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"If wirelessly transmitting a Blu-ray stream (which tops out around 50mbps) is questionable, transmitting uncompressed 1080p/60 video seems downright impossible. Yet, that is exactly what brite-View claims to do with their Air SyncHD transmission kit. In a nutshell, the brite-View Air SyncHD transmission kit promises to wirelessly bridge an HDMI source device and HDMI receiving device, freeing you to place the devices anywhere within the system’s wireless range. Further, the system manages to send 1080p/60 video, audio and infrared (IR) with less than one millisecond latency up to 66 feet. It sounds great on paper, but can it deliver?"

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Displays

Wireless touch mouse roundup

Subject: General Tech | April 18, 2011 - 06:10 PM |
Tagged: input, mouse, keyboard, mouse pad, touch mouse, wireless, roundup

The touch mouse is a species very different from gaming mice, eschewing total size as well as the number of buttons to provide a very mobile but still functional mouse.  The main solution that these mice use is to incorporate the functionality of a touch pad, like those found on laptops, directly onto the mouse.  TechSpot grabbed three of the main contenders, Microsoft’s Arc Touch, Mad Catz's Eclipse, and SpeedLink’s Cue Wireless Multitouch to see how well these mice do the job.

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"When it comes to input peripherals and more specifically pointing devices, the options available to the end user are near limitless. Our most recent mouse reviews and roundups have had a heavy focus on gamers and enthusiasts, but it’s important to remember that not everyone falls into these particular demographics.

Today we'll be looking at three mice that aren’t necessarily as high-end or feature-packed as some we have previously tested. These wireless mice are smaller and simpler in what they entail, yet they all feature one distinct characteristic – touch sensitivity."

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Source: TechSpot