Tag Archives: qi

In Praise of Qi Wireless Charging



My first experience of wireless phone charging was over ten years ago in 2009 with the Palm Pre and its Touchstone charger, which doubled up as a desk stand, tilting the phone at just the right angle. After the annoyances of multiple charger connectors, the simplicity of wireless charging was a revelation, even though Palm’s implementation had a few quirks. Wireless charging and the Touchstones were a feature of the Palm line-up right up until HP threw it all in the bin in 2011.

Joining Google’s Nexus series, my next phone with wireless charging was the Nexus 4 in 2013, which really was a beautiful device with an amazing glass back that shimmered in the light…it was lovely. On the Nexus 4, the wireless charging conformed to the Qi standard which was already looking to be the frontrunner in the wireless charging wars. To keep the Nexus 4 charged, I bought a Zens wireless charger and was sent a Mugenizer N11 wireless charging battery pack to review. The old reviews are still up on GNC for your enjoyment. Both chargers supported the Qi standard by Wireless Power Consortium. Apparently Qi is pronounced “chee” and comes from the Chinese word that translates as “air” and figuratively as “material energy”, “life force”, or “energy flow” (Wikipedia).

Sadly, after three affordable Nexus devices, Google went all up market with the Nexus 5 and I jumped ship to OnePlus who had this strange invite-only sales strategy for their new One smartphone, but, hey, it worked.

I’ve been a OnePlus owner ever since then, but I’ve had to wait over five years for OnePlus to build wireless charging into the new 8 Pro. Being OnePlus, the 8 Pro has its own fast charging standard, but it still supports the underlying Qi standard. As a result, and somewhat amazingly, the Qi chargers from 2013 for the Nexus 4 still work.. Yes, their power output of 5 W is significantly less than the 30 W the OnePlus can take, but if I’m dropping the 8 Pro on the Zens pad for an overnight charge it doesn’t really matter.

Too often technology becomes obsolete in a few years so it’s encouraging to see that wireless chargers from six or seven years ago still work, and all credit should go to the Wireless Power Consortium and the Qi standard.


Qi is Sparking a Wireless Charging Revolution



Qi Wireless Power Consortium logoYou know what Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are. Have you heard of Qi (pronounced chee)? The Wireless Power Consortium created, and maintains, Qi, which is the global standard for compatible wireless charging. Qi is backed by hundreds of industry-leading companies who support it because it allows design freedom, product differentiation and guaranteed wireless charging interoperability.

Scott spoke with Qi VP of Market Development, John Perzow, at CES 2016 at the Wireless Power Consortium booth. John explained some of the many things that Qi can enable. Qi provides an open, universal, charging standard. John discussed how Qi could be used to adapt a hotel room to match your personal preferences while your smartphone is charging. He also pointed out how Qi has automotive applications that are good for both the consumer and the manufacturer.

Scott Ertz is a software developer and video producer at F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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Wireless Power Consortium at 2016 CES



Qi EverywhereScott Ertz interviews Arun Kumar, partner presenter at the Wireless Power Consortium booth.

They discuss the current state of wireless charging technology. They demonstrate a 15 watt wireless charger hooked to a laptop. It will soon be possible to integrate wireless charging circuitry directly into laptop computers for the first time, perhaps within a year.

Scott also interviews John Perzow, vice president of market development, about longer-distance charging. John demonstrates that it is now possible to charge a Qi device up to an inch away through an inch thick block of wood. Distance charging is problematic since electrical charging efficiency drops off very quickly with distance.

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Varta Wireless Charger at Gadget Show Live



VartaVartaOne of the biggest brands in portable power, Varta’s range goes from watch cells to car batteries. As well as the all-too-familiar AAs, Varta has a pile of products for the power hungry smartphone and tablet user. With the increasing popularity of wireless charging, it’s not unsurprising that Varta is bringing a Qi charger to market. Unlike many of the puck-style charging pads, the new Varta wireless charger is rectangular making it easier to place the phone and keep it in the sweet spot. Expected to arrive later in the year, the charger will priced a little over £30.

I talk to Natalie from Varta at Gadget Show Live to learn more.


Mugenizer N11 Qi Charger with Battery Review



Mugen Power Batteries LogoHere on GNC I’ve reviewed a succession of USB rechargeable battery packs and I’ve tested a couple of Qi chargers for my Nexus 4. Now for the first time I can review both at the same time with the Mugenizer N11 Wireless Charger Power Bank. Fundamentally, it’s Qi charger with a built-in rechargeable 4800 mAh battery. Genius!

Mugen kindly sent me an N11 as soon as it was released and I’ve been using it for about a week or so. First impressions were good as it came in an attractive card box which smoothly slid open.

N11 Box

The box holds the N11, a USB-to-microUSB cable and a power supply, all in matching white.

N11 in Box

The N11 is made from a hard shiny plastic with a rubber ring in the centre to help hold the charging smartphone over the Qi charging spot. There’s a row of charge lights on the top surface and one end has the on/off switch, charging USB port and recharging microUSB port.

N11 End View

If you are wondering how big the N11 is, it’s almost exactly the same size as a Nexus 4. Here’s mine but note the Nexus is sitting back on the charger a little bit.

N11 and Nexus 4

Enough of how it all looked, how well did the N11 work? Frankly, it worked great. Unlike some of the other Qi chargers I’ve tested, it’s easy to spot where the Qi charging coil is. This makes aligning the phone with charger really straightforward and there’s a beep from the N11 to let you know everything is lined up. Here’s a screen shot from Battery+ showing the excellent charging rate.

N11 Charging

The N11 worked equally well with devices that needed a USB cable to charge. The battery is 4800 mAh which means you could recharge most modern smartphones twice from flat. Generally I was able to recharge my Nexus 4 three times from around 20%. The N11 supports charging from the USB port and the Qi charger at the same time, which can be handy. The port is rated at 1 A.

My only criticism of the product is that it was sometimes difficult to pick out the exact charge level on the blue LEDs as the light bled from one to the next. Is it fully charged or 90%? As the power level fell, it was easier to make the level out.

Charging lights aside, this is great product and it’s now my main charging device for my Nexus 4. It’s pricey enough at a nickel under US $70, but the combined Qi charger and battery pack make this essential for anyone who has a Qi-equipped smartphone such as the Nexus 4 / 5 and  some of the Nokia Lumias. You can use the N11 on your desk or on the go. Recommended.

Thanks again to Mugen Power for the review unit.


Mugenizer N11 Pairs Qi Charger with Battery Pack



Mugen Power Batteries LogoMugen Power are no strangers to innovation but their latest product is genius. The Mugenizer N11 equips a USB battery pack with Qi wireless charger to provide charging on the go. As a user of both types of device on a regular basis, I think this is an excellent idea. It’s also going to be a big win for people who hotdesk and can’t be bothered with plugging and unplugging chargers each day.

image

As you’ll see from the picture, the unit looks much like any standard USB battery pack, albeit a fairly good looking one, with a charging port and power level indicator. The battery has a capacity of 4800 mAh which will fully recharge the average smartphone about twice. The Qi charging plate is on the top and should work with any Qi-enabled smartphone like the Nexus 4. According to the spec, you should be able to charge from both the Qi plate and the USB port at the same time.

The N11 is priced just under US$60 which includes a $10 early adopter discount and free world-wide shipping. It’s pricey enough and you probably could buy a battery and a charger separately for less, but the sheer convenience of a single unit makes it worthwhile. The N11 will be available in early November and I’ll try to get one for review. More information then.


Zens Qi Wireless Charger



Although I was disappointed by the Nokia DT-900, I wasn’t ready to give up on wireless charging nirvana for my Nexus 4. With a bit of searching and review-reading, I plumped for a Zens Universal Qi Single Wireless Charging Plate which garners 4.5 stars on Amazon. Although unknown to me, Zens is a young Dutch company specialising in wireless charging products, and from first appearances, it looks like they’re doing a good job.

The Zens charging plate comes in a well-presented package but is surprisingly small. It’s bigger than the DT-900 but it’s still not large and I imagine that most large screen smartphones will overhang on one side or another. However, the extra size and the rubber covering mean that most smartphones will sit comfortably on the pad. As with the DT-900, it has a DC power supply – no USB charging here, either.

Nexus 4 on Zens Charger

In use, the Zens charging plate is far better with the Nexus 4 than the DT-900. In most instances, simply placing the the Nexus onto the pad started charging and usually, I’d get a high rate of charge without any precise positioning. With a bit of practice, I was able to get a sweetspot that worked every time and an LED on the right side of the plate turns green when the pad starts charging.

The screenshot below shows the charging rate when everything is perfectly aligned and honestly, it’s not far off the rate when the Nexus is plugged in.

Zens Charge Rate

The plate also has a feature that when the phone is fully charged, the charging turns off until the the battery levels falls to about 93%. Here’s what it looks like in Battery+.

Zens Wireless Charger - Full charge

In my opinion, the Zens charging plate knocks the DT-900 into a cocked hat, especially if you have a Nexus 4. Both are priced a little under £45 here in the UK, though the Zens charger seems quite pricey in the US at $100 (Amazon). Update – have since discovered the Zens charger on other websites for a far more reasonable $50. Recommended for all UK Nexus 4 owners.