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Power cord cutters A look at four Qi wireless chargers

first_imgThe days of plugging a cable into your smartphone to charge it are coming to an end, unless you insist on living in the past. Wireless charging is becoming more common in devices, and manufacturers are beginning to put out more compelling charging solutions. The most common of the charging standards is Qi, which works with devices like the Nexus 4, Droid DNA, Galaxy S3/S4 (with Samsung charging backplate), and several of the Nokia Lumia devices.Let’s take a look at a few interesting Qi chargers and learn the ins and outs of this emerging standard.Nexus OrbDesigned with the Nexus 4 in mind, the Orb (pictured at the top) is a Qi-compatible charger that should work with any device with a smooth, flat back. All you have to do is place the handset on the slanted face, and it starts charging. The Orb has the benefit of holding the device in an upright position so it can still be used.The build quality is very good, and it uses a standard microUSB cable to get power. Many other chargers actually have non-standard plugs that won’t work in your phone if you need to go old school. Charging is reliable, and the Orb does trickle charge like it’s supposed to. However, there is no external LED to let you know the device is charging.The device is not held in place by magnets, but rather by a micro-suction rubber pad. That’s why any device you use it with needs to have a smooth back. This is quite neat technology, but the downside is that the Orb is a real dust magnet. Little bits of flotsam will accumulate on the Orb and make it less able to grab the phone. If you wipe it off every week or so with a wet cloth, it should work fine. Still a minor annoyance, though.The Nexus Orb is $60 at retail from Google.Panasonic Charge Pad TM101This device is downright science-fiction-y. You can’t buy it at retail in the US, but the TM101 is sold online at various outlets. This pad uses induction sensing technology, so you can drop the phone anyplace on the flat surface, and it will charge just fine. The TM101 is completely level, so it will be hard to use the phone while docked.More than that, the TM101 actually moves its charging coils to the phone. Accompanied by glowing blue lights, the coils slide across under the semi-transparent surface to meet your device. When charging has completed, the coils move back to the off position. It looks really cool.The main downside with this device is no trickle-charging. When the phone is full of juice, the TM101 stops charging and won’t start again until the device is lifted and replaced. That makes it impractical for overnight charging, and the mechanism moving the coils around is somewhat loud.The Panasonic TM101 is roughly $50-60 online.Next page: Energizer, Tylt, and our recommendation… 1 2last_img read more

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