Hands-on with the WildCharger

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I got some time to play around with one of WildCharge 's products at a press event at CES. If you recall, the company had announced a system for charging your electronics wirelessly, which we mentioned last month. At the time, I reported that the system worked via induction, but company representatives at the event were firm that the system does not work via induction, though they wouldn't say how it did work, except that it doesn't involve electromagnetic radiation.

The product is a small, flat rectangle about the size of a mousepad, with strips of metal across it. Place any one of the enabled devices on it, and they begin to charge. Yes, devices need to be specially outfitted; the WildCharge reps said that they were positioning themselves as an after-market add-on at the moment, but they didn't rule out the possibility of striking deals with manufacturers.

While they wouldn't let us take pictures of the bottom of the enabled devices, I did get a chance to confirm that the system works. Or, at least, when you put the enabled iPod nano on the pad, its battery icon registers as "charging." Likewise, the little glowing globe would light up when placed on the pad. According to the product information, the power is not a trickle charge, but a full charge. And placing your hand on the charger is totally safe.

A pair of products, the WildCharger and the WildCharger mini ought to appear in early 2007. The WildCharger will supply 90 watts of power, supposedly enough for a laptop and several small devices; the mini will supply 15 watts, enough for several small devices. They'll run for $100 and $40 respectively. The convenience factor looks high, but we'll have to wait for some manufacturers to come onboard before we really get widespread wireless charging.

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