Digital Life: Re-charging just got easier
Imagine the delicious scenario: you stop off for a cuppa at your favourite coffee shop, put your phone down on the counter and 20 minutes later it's charged up without ever plugging it in.
That's not science fiction --it's possible right now thanks to a new technology called wireless charging. Several firms have developed the magic known as magnetic induction, which means the battery in a phone (or Nintendo DS or iPod) need only be near a power source to charge up.
In the coming years, such power sources will become more widely available in communal areas such as coffee shop counters. For now, though, you need some gear sold by companies such as Powermat.
The Powermat set-up consists of a mains-connected charger resembling a small sled or skateboard and a sleeve for the iPhone or a "puck" that connects to several devices such as an iPod, a PSP or many other phones.
The sleeve idea works best because, once you've put it on like a chubby protective case, charging is as simple as dropping the phone on the sled and you're juiced up in double-quick time.
Alas, the sleeves are only available for iPhone and BlackBerry yet and so most devices require the clumsy puck, with its collection of interchangeable tips. Still, the sled can charge up to three devices at once -- though you'll need a sleeve or puck for each.
It's available from the Carphone Warehouse and costs €90 (sled), €40 (sleeve) and €40 (puck).
The smartest rivals to the iPhone come from Google's android stable and Taiwanese firm HTC leads the pack with a string of excellent phones.
Its latest offering, the HTC Desire, may just be its greatest. It hosts all the usual android goodness -- slick touchscreen, fast operation and intuitive menus -- plus HTC's graceful enhancements, such as integration of social networks.
All this runs on a slim device with a large, high-res screen and a powerful processor. Like all androids in Ireland, though, the application store is thinly populated because Google has yet to sanction paid-for apps here.
At least, unlike previous HTC models, you now have a choice of networks with the Desire available on Vodafone as well as the usual Meteor.
HTC Desire, €180 on €35pm Vodafone contract