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Commentary
1/10/2007
04:04 PM
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Keeping Your Energy Up At CES

With all the gadgets and devices that are being shown at CES (a large portion of them mobile) something has to power them. This can be really apparent during a big trade show, where the use of notebooks, PDAs, and especially phones is constant -- and you really don't want to drag around a power cord along with the hundreds of product info brochures and CDs that you've piled into your bag.

With all the gadgets and devices that are being shown at CES (a large portion of them mobile) something has to power them. This can be really apparent during a big trade show, where the use of notebooks, PDAs, and especially phones is constant -- and you really don't want to drag around a power cord along with the hundreds of product info brochures and CDs that you've piled into your bag.As a result, there are quite a few power solutions for iPods, phones, notebooks, and other power-hungry hardware being shown here.

For example, Sanyo is pushing its Eneloop, a nickle-metal hydride battery which, the company says, can be used right after purchase (as opposed to most reusables, which have to be charged for several hours before using), and a long shelf-life with a lower loss of energy than other rechargeables. Right now, the Eneloop comes in AA and AAA types, with adapters for C and D batteries underway.

While there are a lot of companies offering battery-powered chargers for your cell phones, iPods, and GPS units, Freeplay Energy is offering chargers that are human-powered. Its FreeCharge 12-Volt personal energy source is an sleek 11-ounce item with the same 12V adaptor as a car. You crank it for about 60 seconds, connect your mobile device via its automobile adapter, and you can get three or four minutes of use. Crank more, you get more. This may not be impressive if you need to call your stockbroker and discuss the latest prices, but if you're on a three-day hike in the outback and need to power your GPS unit, this could be a lifesaver.The $30 unit will ship in February.

Finally, my current favorite for a good idea that just doesn't work is the $179 i.Tech Virtual Laser Keyboard (VKB), which projects a full-sized laser-light keyboard onto a flat surface so that you can type into your PDA or other Bluetooth device. Which is a nice thought -- I carried around a fold-out keyboard for my PDA for years, and it did double the weight and space I needed -- but I found that even hunt-and-peck typing resulted in an incredibly number of errors, and touchtyping was nearly impossible. Still, I applaud their ingenuity.

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