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Wireless charging should be renamed.

My "wireless" charger for the HP Touchpad
I remember the first time that I heard the term "Wireless charging" for devices, the geek in me immediately got excited.   After all, I came from a world in the distant 1980's where remote controls for the TV and the VCR had wires, game console controllers were wired, the internet was wired, and phones where tethered to a wall.  The breaking away from the shackles of wires for each of these things were monumental achievements for human mobility (or the lack of mobility in the case of remotes) and exciting in their own ways.  I'm sure many of you dear readers remember the days when Bluetooth first allowed you to share pics and other files with each other wirelessly without needing some insane proprietary cable in order to do so.

Which brings me to wireless charging.

This is the one technology that comes to mind where "wireless" is not wireless AT ALL.   Look at the picture above.  There is a long wire attached and mobility is surely not enhanced much if at all with this device.  The actual name for this type of charging is "inductive" charging where an electromagnetic field is used to transfer energy.  The issue with this is that there must still be physical contact to transfer the energy.  Thus, it is not wireless at all.  Awesome wireless energy transfer like what the great inventor Tesla has yet to make it into consumer hands.  Wireless charging is a bit of a misnomer.  Imagine being told that to use WiFi, you have to physically attach your laptop or device to something and leave it there.  That would not be very wireless at all, would it?

My HP Touchpad "Wirelessly" charging.
Most "wireless" charging involves some kind of a mat object that you lay your device against and it will charge your device...very slowly.  It will usually charge at a far slower rate than a standard port connection.  Using your device would most likely be a pain as well, since you would have to hold both the device and the charging mat if the mat isn't built into something like a couch cushion.  Doesn't sound very convenient does it?  A standard cable for most electronics can be found from $1 - $10 online.  Inductive mats will go for $20 and up and you have to be sure that you get the right type.  That's correct, "wireless" charging is not universal either.  Just something else to keep in mind if you are thinking about making the jump and you have a supported device.

With that said there are positive and negative aspects to inductive charging.  The one positive thing that I can think about is if your device has a "picture frame" option.  You can't beat the clean look or wireless charging. Android and WebOS devices have this feature built in via "Daydream" and "Exhibition" modes.  When you connect the device to the inductive charger, it simply turns on a special mode similar to a screensaver on a PC.  It can show weather, pictures, news, etc.  It's very slick actually.
Flipboard running on "Daydream" mode via Android 4..3 Jellybean

Sadly, this will wear your screen and battery down much faster and shorten the life of your device in the long run but chances are that the tech enthusiast will replace their device long before that becomes an issue.  It sure is pretty though.

Summarizing the negative aspects however:

  1. You are still tethered to a wire.
  2. You lose mobility of your device.
  3. It's expensive compared to traditional port charging.
  4. There are multiple incompatible standards.
Those are just a few things to think about, and if you come up with a more accurate name then feel free to leave it in the comments section.  Maybe a marketing guru will use it to their advantage in the future.


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