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The new VHS vs. Beta: wireless phone charging

The new VHS vs. Beta: wireless phone charging
Powermat

Imagine a future with no more cables or cords. You'll never lose, tangle or wear out your charger. You won't clutter up your outlets with dozens of "wall-wart" adapters. Just put your phone down on a table, desk or counter and let the charging begin.

That future is now. Already, Starbucks has begun offering wireless charging at some of its West Coast stores, with other major cities to follow next year. Samsung, Nokia, HTC, LG and other major smartphone and tablet makers offer gadgets with wireless charging built in. Soon, every phone could have it.

But what most people don't realize is that not all wireless charging technology is created equal. There are actually two standards for wireless charging and neither is compatible with the other. The New York Times wrote:

Both use a similar technology that allows users to place smartphones or tablets on a charging mat and power up in no more time than using a cable would take. For the wireless connection to work, a receiver — which could be in the device but at this point is more likely to be in a special case that you have to buy — picks up an electrical charge from a transmitter coil in the charging mat.

It's just like the battle between VHS and Beta, or more recently, Blu-ray and HD DVD.

In one corner there's Qi (pronounced chee). This technology is used by Sony, Samsung, LG, Philips and more. In the other corner there are Powermat, A4WP and the Power Matters Alliance, which have teamed up to champion a different standard that allows charging at greater distance.

We don't know who's going to prevail. We do know that when it comes to these technology wars, the market favors one standard technology. In other words, there can be only one.

That's why I think you should hold off on choosing wireless charging - for now. On one hand, the technology isn't quite ready yet. On the other, you don't want to end up buying all new charging equipment if the horse you backed falls out of favor. Click here to get my advice on which smartphone you should buy.

 

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