By Todd Bernhard on Fri, 01/08/2010
For several years, various vendors have used CES to demonstrate wireless charging prototypes. This past year, however, was the year these technologies started to become commercially available. BestBuy even has several examples for sale, for phones and video game controllers. Palm has been promoting the Pre's induction charging as a competitive advantage.
With wireless charging, you just place your gadget on a pad and it starts charging! It's a great concept but in practice, there have been drawbacks. For starters, you have a limited set of devices and compatible cases to choose from. The charging pads have been bulky, making them impractical for travel.
Powermat (http://www.Powermat.com), a leader in wireless charging accessories, used CES 2010 to unveil Powermat Portable Mats, about the size of a deck of playing cards. Powermat also introduced a variety of cases to appeal to a wider variety of users.
Case-Mate has a similar offering, in partnership with Fulton Innovation, called the Hug, but it charges one device at-a-time (Powermat is available in different sizes, including support for up to 3 devices). Traditional chargers typically draw "phantom power", even when the device isn't charging, which isn't very green. Case-Mate's device, which is compliant with the Wireless Power Consortium's universal standard for wireless charging, stops drawing power when the iPhone is charged.
Energizer may have a leg up on other competitors, thanks to their name brand and distribution channels. Energizer also supports many more devices, in particular gaming controllers. As popular as iPhones are, Wii, PS3, and XBox are pretty popular as well, and those owners have two to four controllers each!
I still think the end goal needs to be built-in wireless charging, independent of the case, but it's nice to see these new options.