Shaun Mccran

My digital playground

04
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2014

Is wireless mobile charging really here?

There seemed to be a growing movement on the wireless charging front for mobile handsets at the moment. There are more and more charging plates and compatible handsets out there, so I thought I'd investigate and see how easily I could enable my Samsung Note to charge wirelessly. Wireless chargers emit an alternating current via a transmitter coil, which then induces a voltage in the receiver coil found in the device.

For clarification I have a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 that in theory can charge wirelessly. It uses the Qi (pronounced "chee") standard which provides an inductive charge, this is a convenient and hassle free way to charge your phone.

The first stumbling block I found was that my Samsung Note 3 handset didn't ship with the correct back plate to wirelessly charge. It appears as though this wasn't an omission or product error, it seems to be firmly be Samsung's strategy. I'm confident about this as both the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy S5 are wireless charger compatible but neither ships with a back plate that allows them to charge out of the box.

So the first step to Qi compatibility is to switch out the standard back plate and fit a Qi wireless charging compatible case. Something like this: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Samsung-S-View-Wireless-Charging-Galaxy-Black/dp/B00FON947S/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407157846&sr=8-1&keywords=samsung+note+3+wireless+charge+case

Or as an alternative you could install a bridging 'card' which has a coil in it to enable Qi charging. This is effectively the coil that comes inside the Samsung Qi wireless case. Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ultra-thin-Wireless-Charging-Receiver-Samsung/dp/B00GFGL0XE/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

Now the handset should be Qi compatible. Keep an eye on some of the coil cards that you can pick up as some of them are NFC compatible and some as S-View, but there doesn't seem to be a Qi /NFC / S-View coil card out there.

Finally find yourself a Qi charging plate. The choice here is extensive but the main difference seems to be voltage and cosmetics. Simply find a plate that is the right size and shape for you. Here's a selection: http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=samsung%20note%203%20wireless%20charge%20pad

So in summary the handset is compatible with Qi, but it doesn't work out of the box. You need further accessories to enable Qi wireless charging, and you need to buy the charging plate. The Qi standard is evolving as well, the standard has just been upgraded: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/08/01/qi_wireless_charging_extends_to_30mm/ so it might be worth waiting for the next wave of devices.

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2014

Sony confuses its customers with product fragmentation

So E3 is here again, along with a flurry of consumer news, games and future predictions on the trends of technology, or at least where the big entertainment companies would like us to think it's going anyway. This is our (the consumers) big window into their (the mega corp entertainment company) plans and products that we are all too excited about buying up for the next year.

Sony released big news about new games, old games being redone in HD, new devices and new online services. The key take home message for me was all about Sony Saturation. I can't quite decide if their Vision is saturate the market in devices that all do the same thing, or whether they just don't have a Vision at all, which has led to product development, where all their devices can do the same thing. Either way what we consumers are looking at is a dizzying array of Sony hardware and software services, much of which does exactly the same as its counterparts.

Sony already have Smart TVs, many of which are getting the ability to play older PlayStation titles. Now we are also hearing about the PlayStation TV, a set top box ($99,USA only at the moment) Which seems to be able to stream PS4 content to another TV (Sony MagicEye anyone?) Then of course you've got the PS4, which cannot play older titles, only high end new ones. On top of that there are numerous rollouts of PS Now and Sony store implementations across PS VITA and Smart TVs. What's PS Now? Well it looks like a cloud based service you access through your TV allowing you access to older games and movies, oh, and you don't need a console, all the grunt work is done at a Sony server somewhere in a datacentre.

So what's the problem with having several different types of device doing the same thing? Well for both Sony and its consumers it brings a couple of interesting pitfalls, both of a technical nature and of a customer nature.

  1. 1. The product offering is confusing. As a consumer how do I select products with overlapping capabilities? Do I want a console, or a TV I can use to play similar games?

  2. 2. How do I manage my games collection? Are there custom versions of the Sony store per device to stop my buying the wrong product on the wrong device? Account management will become a much more intelligent process.

  3. 3. What impact does all this have on existing devices? How difficult are these things becoming to use? All these additional layers of software can't impede the customers too much, otherwise no-one will participate.

  4. 4. How does Sony keep them all up-to-date? TVs are notoriously bad at being updated, the big TV manufacturers would rather you buy a new TV every year than produce an upgrade roadmap for you. With more devices come more development, more testing and more releases. None of this comes cheap.

So for now, I'll wait and see how each of these pans out, but it does feel a little like Sony are rather randomly shooting at fish in a lake and seeing which one they hit first.

For further reading you can check out the BBCs article on E3 opening presentations here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-27774813