One of the best things about the Palm Pre smartphones is the cool Touchstone wireless inductive charging solution. As you know, I have a LOT of mobile phones and having to plug them in separately, primarily via microUSB, every night is annoying. Thus, I was excited to find out that my new Samsung Droid Charge supports inductive charging with the Qi standard. I purchased an Energizer Qi-enabled Inductive Charger and the Qi-enabled back for my Droid Charge that you can check out in my short image gallery. Details and my experiences with this solution are below.
What is Qi?
Qi (pronounced Chee) is a new standard for inductive charging that is being worked on by the Wireless Power Consortium
. I have seen wireless solutions from PowerMat (inductive) and Duracell (conductive), but was pleased to see the solution supported by my Droid Charge was based on the Qi standard since that is what seems to be where the industry is moving as a basis for this technology with the most likely probability of having support for many devices.
Here's a more detailed explanation of Qi:
First, a transmitter awaits a signal from a receiver that it needs power. When it detects a receiver, the transmitter sends electricity through a transmitting coil, creating an electromagnetic field with a specific frequency. The receiving coil, designed to accept energy at that frequency, then turns that energy into something we all need, more battery life. When the receiver’s battery is full, the receiving coil tells the transmitter to stop sending energy, effectively telling the transmitter to standby. Devices talking intelligently to one another over beams of energy may not be flying cars, but it’s still pretty futuristic.
Just as inductive charging is the first generation of intelligent charging, Qi is the next generation. Before Qi, not all transmitters and receivers were designed to work together. They didn’t all speak the same language. This is why the Wireless Power Consortium came together and made Qi the universal standard for inductive charging. Now, with Qi Inductive Charging, all Qi-enabled devices that need up to 5 watts of power have coils that transmit and receive the same frequency. So now and in the future, any Qi-enabled device will work with any Qi charger.
What did I buy for my Droid Charge?
There are two pieces needed for your Qi-enabled device, a charging pad and a back or sleeve for your device. I found the Energizer Inductive Charger on Amazon
for $62.24, which seems like a great deal when the retail price at other places is $89.99.
The Energizer Inductive Charger is a pad with two Qi charging zones with two indicator lights above and one USB port for connecting another cable to charge up a 3rd device. At this time, I only have one device to use with the charging pad, but I do have a short microUSB cable plugged in to charge up another device.
I also purchased the new back for my Droid Charge from Verizon Wireless for $29.99 and couldn't find it anywhere else online. As you can see in my image gallery the inductive back is only a millimeter or two thicker than the default Charge back and I can hardly tell it adds anything to the overall feel of the device.
Experiences with the Energizer Inductive Charger
The great thing about the Droid Charge is that support for Qi charging is integrated into the device so you get status indicators appearing on the display itself as you use the Energizer Inductive Charger. After placing the Droid Charge on the pad a status pop-up appears (shown in my image gallery
) stating that wireless charging has started while the blue LED above the side of the pad where you placed your device will light up as well. When your Droid Charge is fully charged another status indicator will appear and the blue LED light will turn off.
This charging solution is smart so after your device is charged up the pad will stop sending energy to charge up the device. I have been using the Energizer Inductive Charge for a few days now and am finding it charges up my Droid Charge at about the same rate as through a microUSB cable, but in a MUCH more convenient manner.
Unlike the HP Touchstone device, there are no magnets to let you know you have placed your device in the right spot. The Energizer Inductive Charger is not as particular about placing your device in an exact location so you have some flexibility in placing devices on the pad. It is angled, but just slightly, and I have not noticed my Droid Charge sliding around at all.
I can't wait to have all of my devices supported by this method where I can just set them down on the pad when I get home and not worry about fiddling with cables, dealing with a bunch of tangled cables, and worrying about energy being wasted for no reason. I would like it even better to see these pads in hotel rooms and in other public areas where I can drop my device to charge it up.
What else works with the Energizer Inductive Charger?
Currently, the Energizer Inductive Charger supports the Droid Charge and BlackBerry Curve 8900 through replacement backs. There are sleeves for the iPhone 3G, 3GS, and iPhone 4. The backs are the nicer solution because you can leave them on all the time and not have to worry about storing your sleeve somewhere. We are sure to see more replacement backs and sleeves in the future.