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Print 20 comment(s) - last by Motoman.. on Feb 24 at 11:02 AM

New standard could enable laptops to charge via smart tables, or to charge other devices with built-in circuits

While it might be pricey, using a large inductive or resonant desktop charger as a base for a laptop would arguably be one of the best applications of wireless technology.
 
Unlike a smartphone where when you lay it down to charge generally you have to stop using it, a laptop inductive or resonant charger would allow you to continue to work in a normal fashion.  And many users are already comfortable with the idea, given the popularity of laptop bases with extra storage and/or traditional charging capabilities.  Last, but not least, a unified wireless or wired standard was desperately need giving the horrible mess of proprietary laptop charger designs.
 
Yet Dell's announcement that it is "the first major PC original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to join a wireless power standards organization" suggests it's taken almost half a decade since the first mass market inductive chargers were introduced for PC makers to even begin to adopt the technology.

Dell 6430u
It's somewhat surprising that Hewlett-Packard Comp. (HPQ) isn't the first to be pioneering the wireless technology in laptops.  After all, it purchased Palm, which pioneered the technology in the smartphone market, releasing the highest profile wireless charger to date back in 2009.  But it appears that like the rest of Palm's business, Palm's wireless charging legacy at HP remains fairly dead.
 
With wireless charging nearing ubiquity in high-end smartphones, at last another PC OEM has stepped up to the plate.  Dell is joining the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP), which maintains the Rezence charging specification.  As the name implies, the standard operates on magnetic resonance charging, the first kind of resonant charging to be ready for commercialization.  Rezence is backed by Witricity, a familiar name in smartphone wireless charging.

Rezence Power

A4WP's other semiconductor/circuit technology partners include:
  • Broadcom Corp. (BRCM)
  • Gill Electronics (a Grand Rapids, Mich. based firm)
  • Integrated Device Technlogy (IDT) Inc. (IDTI)
  • Intel Corp. (INTC)
  • Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM)
  • Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KRX:005930) (KRX:005935)
  • SEMCO Energy, Inc.
In addition to Samsung -- who doubles as a mobile OEM -- other device or peripheral OEMs onboard the project include: The A4WP spec already has multi-device charging support, and leverages the Bluetooth Smart wireless charging standard, which is backed by Apple, Inc. (AAPL) and others.  To kick off Dell's ultrabook wireless charging push, A4WP is introducing a new higher power charging spec that can offer between 20 and 50 watts to devices.

Rezence wireless charging

Glen Robson, the chief technology officer and vice president at Dell, says his firm is eager to offer up wireless-charging laptops.  He states:

The development of magnetic resonance technology will improve the customer experience when it comes to wireless charging and bring the capability into more homes and businesses over the next few years.  We are excited to work with other industry leaders in the A4WP to deliver on the promise of easy, flexible wireless charging across an array of mobile devices including smartphones, tablets and laptops.

Dell's decision to step up to the plate is drawing praise from its partners.  Sanjay Vora, a strategic planning general manager with Intel's PC Client Group cheers:

The A4WP continues to make progress on its mission to cut the power cord for all mobile devices.  Extending the Rezence specification to include higher-power, more capable devices like Ultrabooks and 2 in 1’s is a necessary evolution that will help to accelerate charging station installations and bring a truly enjoyable ‘No Wires’ user experience to more users.  We are excited to have Dell joining the Alliance and help expand the specification.

Devices supporting the new standard are expected to arrive within the next couple years.  Among the novel kinds of chargers that are under discussion are "smart furniture", such as charging tables or nightstands.  Intel and IDT have also proposed putting secondary charges into your laptop to allow it to charge your smartphone or tablet when not in use.

Source: Rezence





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Cool I guess?
By laviathan05 on 2/21/2014 11:02:30 AM , Rating: 2
I see the benefit of this with a phone, since you need to charge it basically everyday after carrying it around with you, and it's easier to just put it on a charging pad than to try and get the mini-USB or iPhone plug in. But does anybody really move around with their laptop enough that this would be a desirable solution over a regular docking station?




RE: Cool I guess?
By inighthawki on 2/21/2014 11:09:02 AM , Rating: 3
I can see this used in business offices where people move around between conference rooms a lot. If they could integrate into the conference room tables that would be convenient. Then again we're reaching the point where batteries last all day anyway, so it's less of an advantage than it would've been say, 5 years ago.

Could also be nice to just go on battery all day and then set it on the charging table for the night and come back to it fully charged in the morning without worrying about power cords and outlets.


RE: Cool I guess?
By Motoman on 2/21/2014 12:26:45 PM , Rating: 2
With all the work that IT departments have done to make their data centers more efficient, why would they jump at the chance to make charging their laptops *less* efficient?

Any kind of induction charging always has a loss. It's required to by physics.

Energy costs and waste are high enough. Spend the half a second to plug your thing in.


RE: Cool I guess?
By MrBlastman on 2/21/2014 1:27:30 PM , Rating: 2
Ahhhh but you see... suits trump IT and logic, all the time. What the ivory tower wants, the ivory tower gets. IT gets to make it happen, whether they like it or not.


RE: Cool I guess?
By CaedenV on 2/21/2014 2:15:42 PM , Rating: 2
3 reasons come to mind:
One is that new laptops sip power. Even with the step back in efficiency, they will still likely take less power than the laptops they would be replacing.
The 2nd thought is that even a small army of 45W laptops running 8 hours a day (and idle for most of that time) are not going to compare to the data room filled with 500+W servers that run 24/7. Heck, modern laptops don't even show up on the radar compared to things like lighting costs, so I doubt people will care about energy use when compared to them being able to keep charge all day long.
And lastly, if it is a fancy new toy for the executive staff, then the added energy cost is 'worth it' to them, so they will pay for it.


RE: Cool I guess?
By inighthawki on 2/21/2014 2:19:53 PM , Rating: 2
This was my initial thought. Even with decreased efficiency, I would think the potential convenience it offers to employees outweighs the marginal cost increases compared to everything else.


RE: Cool I guess?
By p05esto on 2/22/2014 6:22:49 PM , Rating: 1
Maybe your laptop. Mine has a 17" screen and is a workstation replacement, with desktop CPU/GPU and all the fixings. I need real power, there is no sipping of anything. I don't even use wireless internet because I want more speed and don't mind plugging in. Some people are ok with hybrid tin cans and some want V8 SUV tanks....


RE: Cool I guess?
By lolmuly on 2/21/2014 6:21:41 PM , Rating: 2
I would like this to work in my bed, with the charging pad underneath the mattress. Watching movies on a laptop in bed is fantastic, but that damned power cord always gets in the way


RE: Cool I guess?
By Motoman on 2/21/2014 9:01:57 PM , Rating: 2
Oh, it would work. If they amped it up enough. And if you were OK with 60% energy loss.


RE: Cool I guess?
By inighthawki on 2/21/2014 9:20:27 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe it is. To some people such convenience is worth it. Although instead I'd recommend you just get a laptop with more than an hour of battery life :). I sit in bed for hours at a time watching TV and movies on Netflix and when I'm done I often still have 50% battery or more.


RE: Cool I guess?
By Motoman on 2/22/2014 10:19:06 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
To some people such convenience is worth it.


There is no conceivable way in which it is ever "worth it" for electricity to be generated, transported through the infrastructure (which itself has huge environmental losses), and delivered to the end user, only for the end user to throw it away.

It's not a function of whether or not an individual person is so infinitely wealthy that they can afford to throw away money because they're too lazy to spend half a second plugging their laptop it. It's a matter of being wasteful of a primary social resource...and especially considering the degree to which coal power plants are still in use ant the teetering nature of our ancient grid.

Spend the trillion dollars to put in our new smart grid, and a whackload more nuke plants to go with it, and *maybe* I won't care anymore. But until then...don't be a f%cktard. Plug your thing in.


RE: Cool I guess?
By donkey_donkey on 2/22/2014 3:39:58 PM , Rating: 2
There is no conceivable way in which it is ever "worth it" for FOOD to be generated, transported through the infrastructure (which itself has huge environmental losses), and delivered to the end user, only for the end user to throw it away.

It's not a function of whether or not an individual person is so infinitely wealthy that they can afford to throw away money because they're too lazy to spend half a minute chewing and swallowing. It's a matter of being wasteful of a primary social resource...and especially considering the degree to which family farms still in use and the teetering nature of our ancient aquifers.

Spend the trillion dollars to develop new GMO crops, and a whackload more mega farms to go with it, and *maybe* I won't care anymore. But until then...don't be a f%cktard. Clean your damn plate!


RE: Cool I guess?
By Motoman on 2/24/2014 11:02:38 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
But until then...don't be a f%cktard. Clean your damn plate!


I do. In perfect honesty, I *hate* throwing any food away, specifically for those reasons.

Thank you for understanding and supporting my position that vital, primary social resources must be conserved and not simply discarded by lazy, stupid f%cktards.


RE: Cool I guess?
By fteoath64 on 2/22/2014 9:29:03 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. It is overkill for a laptop. Smaller devices like tablets, phones, watches, fitness-bands, cameras needs wireless charging more so. Maybe Dell seeing it can sell more charging pads can say,

"Hey, our charging pad allow you to charge ALL for little devices as above and your Dell laptop at the same time!". Now that would be a smart idea!!!.

ie a 50w charging capacity, if it draws 30w for Dell, it leaves 20w for 4 additional devices at 5w trickle charge each. What a bright idea!!!.


By thermopyle2 on 2/21/2014 2:58:01 PM , Rating: 2
http://www.dell.com/us/business/p/latitude-z600/pd

The z600 came out over 4 years ago and had an optional induction charging base. I guess they're trying (poorly) to relaunch the concept and don't have any other way to play it up than "OMG FIRST EVER!!"




By JasonMick on 2/21/2014 5:31:29 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
http://www.dell.com/us/business/p/latitude-z600/pd

The z600 came out over 4 years ago and had an optional induction charging base. I guess they're trying (poorly) to relaunch the concept and don't have any other way to play it up than "OMG FIRST EVER!!"
Good find, but I disagree with your conclusions.

I think you're kind of missing the point.

Even if Dell already is quietly marketing its own in-house wireless charging base, that solution likely isn't compatible with the chargers for other devices. With this you can now charge all your electronics -- laptop, smartphone, tablet -- off a single pad. That's the benefit of a cooperate hardware standard like this.

Otherwise you go from a mess of proprietary cords to a mess of proprietary charging pads.


Very cool
By CaedenV on 2/21/2014 2:22:42 PM , Rating: 2
I hear the nay-sayers out there talking about efficiency, but this is still very cool tech.
While I didn't think much of it when I bought it, I have found wireless charging to be one of the coolest features on my phone. The ability to simply pick up and go is pretty awesome. The ability to then slap it on the car mount without having to plug things in, or worry about it falling off and having the wire tugged brings a real peace of mind.

I would not advocate wireless charging for everything... but for small portable devices, it is a must-have option. Everything from remotes, to phones, to controllers, to laptops should all use wireless charging. One less thing to break, less cable to worry about, it is way better than you would think until you have it.




too late...
By zodiacfml on 2/22/2014 1:09:24 AM , Rating: 2
i don't see this benefits a notebook with probably larger batteries, and nowadays, longer battery lives.




limited benefits
By Murloc on 2/22/2014 4:58:14 AM , Rating: 2
This would be especially useful in cars where cables really a hassle and sometimes there's just one 12v port and you need it for the fridge.
Having a slot where you can just throw your phone in and get it charged would be useful.
Smartphones are the devices who need help reaching the end of the day, this would be perfect since many people commute in a car.

Ultrabooks don't really need to be charged during the day nowadays so it's a matter of convenience.




Wireless charging
By mrwassman on 2/22/2014 3:24:26 PM , Rating: 2
The pickup coil in my phone heats up the battery too much while charging, degrading the battery faster than normal. I stopped using the wireless charge feature for this reason.

All phones should come with at least a 48 hour battery life from now on and laptops can easily last 6-12 hours. I'd rather have a device that I have to plug in once every few days rather than charge it every day. The batteries will last longer too, assuming you use it every day. If they were really smart than they would incorporate the same battery charging techniques used in hybrid vehicles.

The industry moves extremely slow in some aspects.




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