One of the latest and more unique products to hit electronic store shelves is the Energizer Inductive Charge. The $89 unit allows mobile phone users to charge their phones wirelessly and requires a sleeve for the various Blackberry and iPhones models. Not sure if I can wait until next Christmas to get this device!
Tired of dealing with wires to charge your mobile device? The Energizer Inductive Charger lets you place your iPhone or Blackberry on its shiny black surface, where it immediately begins charging wirelessly.
Energizer’s $89 inductive charging station has been available for a few months, and the company’s been working on the various sleeves that must be placed on devices so they can work with it. So far, there’s a sleeve for the iPhone 3G and 3GS, a replacement door for the BlackBerry Curve 8900, and now, Energizer’s finally finished its iPhone 4 sleeve and sent it to us for review.
The charging station is a wedge-shaped piece of piano-black plastic that’s a little larger than a paperback book. It has two spots where you can place your mobile devices for wireless charging, and can accommodate both at once. There’s a USB port in the back to connect an additional device, letting you charge a total of three at the same time.
This inductive charger is compatible with the Qi (pronounced “chee”) wireless charging standard adopted by the Wireless Power Consortium. Qi shows great promise — in fact, we’re so impressed, we named it one of the 8 Gadgets to Watch in 2011. The consortium members include Samsung, Panasonic, Sony, HTC, Verizon, Duracell, Energizer, Black & Decker and a few others — but notably missing so far is Apple. The idea is for all the products made by consortium members to be interoperable with each other.
Here’s a diagram showing how it works:
Does it work? Yes, and it seems like magic. The Qi system uses an electromagnetic field to transfer energy instead of wires. When I plugged my iPhone 4 into its sleeve, all I needed to do was place it onto one of the targets on the charger, and its blue light began to glow, indicating that charging had begun. I like the way each of the two lights turn off, indicating the associated device is fully charged. When all are fully charged, the charging station goes into its energy-saving standby mode.
The plan for the Qi system is to build this wireless capability into devices, eliminating the need for an external sleeve, or in the case of the BlackBerry Curve 8900, a replacement door. Energizer says that according to iSuppli, there could be 234.9 million units with built-in wireless charging by 2014.
So is it worth it? Are we so lazy that we can’t bother to plug in our phones to charge them? Probably. Maybe it’s not laziness, but the desire for convenience that makes wireless charging so appealing. I found myself much more likely to lay my iPhone onto this charger than to plug it in. And, it’s good to know this charger will still be able to accommodate any device that’s compliant with the Qi standard in the coming years. That’s when this will really pay off — when many devices have this wireless charging capability built in, and no sleeves required. Until then, even with the sleeves, I enjoyed using the system and highly recommend it.