Tag: USB

PowerTrekk Fuel Cell Charger Earns Our Title of “Most Disappointing CES Product That Should Have Been Amazing”

When I received a press email before CES titled “CES Debut: New gadget charges your phone with water”, I was ecstatic. I imagined running away from society to live in the hills, armed with nothing but a Bear Grylls knife and my water charger. I imagined all the times I had gone through the day to end up with a dead battery, and how that would never happen again as long as I had my water charger. It immediately became the thing I was most interested in seeing in the entire show of more than 3000 companies. Who cares about new phones or cases or accessories when your phone is dead? Your phone would never be dead with this. I fell in love with my fantasy of this product.


Then I actually saw it. On my trip to the Venetian CES Halls, stuffed in the back corner of an exhibit hall that had nothing to do with mobile technology, I found PowerTrekk. I was so excited! I saw the product being demonstrated as I walked up to their booth. The charger itself looked great. I walked a little closer, trying to overhear what was being said. I saw the charger get opened. I saw the water reservoir. And then I saw something I was not expecting: a removable “PowerPukk”, which provided the power. Until then, I had assumed that this was some sort of hydrogen fuel cell technology that harnessed some small amount of solar energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. Turns out, they have devised some chemical, which they claim is completely biodegradable and recyclable, which reacts with water to produce an electric current.  Still holding onto hope, I dove in and asked the pivotal question… “How long does the PowerPukk last?” The answer? “1 full charge.”


I was heartbroken. All of my dreams of perpetually water charging my USB devices were shattered. Travelling the American Discovery Trail while still connected with a fully-charged phone at all times was now out of the question. What PowerTrekk had done and failed to mention was essentially create an incredibly-expensive battery that is about the size of a small can of cat food, and then require that battery to use water in order to output any power. One PowerPukk outputs 1500mAh of power to either charge whatever it’s plugged into, or charge the 1500mAh Lithium Ion battery in the top half. The price of this madness? €199, which at the time of this writing is over $250 US. Each PowerPukk costs €1.99, which is about $2.50. So for slightly more than the cost of a brand new Galaxy Nexus on contract with Verizon, you can buy a charger that will charge your phone about 2 times and require a tablespoon of water on top of it before needing to buy another Pukk.

Granted, the company’s vision is to provide reliable, ecologically friendly power to USB devices. It does that. However, the cost of doing that is outrageous. To put it in perspective, you could buy approximately 100 replacement batteries for your phone from eBay, or 2 external battery packs with a combined output of over 50 amp hours, which is enough to charge a typical smartphone over 30 times from dead to full.

Overall, if having a renewable way of charging your phone is a priority, your best bet is solar. The PowerTrekk Fuel Cell Charger is expensive, limited, wasteful, and underpowered. Looks like my dreams of a hydrogen fuel charger are still just that.

You can take a look at the PowerTrekk charger here at the company website.

Review: Kingston Wi-Drive


With CES in full swing now, and the need for collaboration between our editing and blogging team with all the hundreds of pictures and videos everyone is taking, I was pleasantly surprised when our friends at Kingston let us try out their 16gb Wi-Drive. Essentially a USB flash drive with a wi-fi hotspot built in, this would allow everyone to share the same storage right from their phones. Labeled as iPhone/iPod only, their is also a beta Android app in the market that works surprisingly well, on top of the hidden ability to use it from any web browser on the network.

The Yay:

Battery: The Wi-Drive has a built-in rechargeable battery. I haven’t been able to find any specifics on the length of a single charge, but I haven’t been able to run it out yet.

Simplicity: This really couldn’t be any easier to use. Holding the power button turns it on, doing it again turns it off. That is the only thing you can physically do with the Wi-Drive. After jumping on the Wi-Drive hotspot, the app is very easy to use. You can even navigate to its IP address from any browser on the network, so accessing it from a laptop is just as easy as using a phone.

Configuration: The configuration options of the Wi-Drive are accessed either from the app, or from navigating to its IP on your network, exactly like you would configure a router. Once their, you can configure all your standard Wi-Fi options, including adding WEP/WPA security to it to prevent people from jumping onto it and tampering with your files.

Weight: Despite being essentially the same size as my phone, it is incredibly light, and wouldn’t be a burden at all to leave in your backpack all day.

Compatibility: The Wi-Drive is advertised as compatible only with Apple iOS devices. However, there is a Beta Android app in the Android Market that works fine.

Charger: Although not really a selling point, the Wi-Drive also comes with a 1.2amp USB wall charger. Not only does that charge the drive fast, it also charges whatever else you plug into fast. For comparison, computer USB ports charge at 0.5amps, most Android phones charge between 0.8 and 1amp, and iPhones charge at 1amp.

The Nay:

Connection Method: One fatal flaw that prevents the Wi-Drive from coming with me everywhere now is the fact that it uses Wi-Fi to connect to other devices. This causes a problem because if you’re phone is connected to the Wi-Drive, it no longer has a data connection. This means that anything besides calls and text messages are out of the question while connected to it. This is a big deal because using group chat apps like WhatsApp to collaborate with the rest of your team who isn’t with you is impossible while connected to it. I would have preferred Bluetooth, or at least a Bluetooth option. Also, it is limited to 3 concurrent connections at once, which seems a little low to me. This could potentially be raised in a future firmware upgrade, but right now it’s a little on the low side. Read more

No USB Mass Storage, Flash Support for Galaxy Nexus?

As the launch of the Galaxy Nexus here in the states draws even closer, more and more leaks are bound to pop up. In two rather surprising ones, it turns out that there will be no USB Mass Storage support, and no Flash support at launch for the Galaxy Nexus.

The lack of USB Mass Storage mode shocked me when I first read about it. Turns out that since the Galaxy Nexus doesn’t have any removable storage, and the unified structure of ICS’s file system, means that there is no dedicated partition for your computer to mount. Android Engineer Don Morrill stopped by reddit to offer up this response:

ICS supports USB Mass Storage (UMS). The Galaxy Nexus does not. This is the same scenario as Honeycomb, as for instance HC supports USB Mass Storage while Xoom does not.

If a given device has a removable SD card it will support USB Mass Storage. If it has only built-in storage (like Xoom and Galaxy Nexus) it will (usually) support only MTP and PTP.

It isn’t physically possible to support UMS on devices that don’t have a dedicated partition for storage (like a removable SD card, or a separate partition like Nexus S.) This is because UMS is a block-level protocol that gives the host PC direct access to the physical blocks on the storage, so that Android cannot have it mounted at the same time.

With the unified storage model we introduced in Honeycomb, we share your full 32GB (or 16GB or whatever) between app data and media data. That is, no more staring sadly at your 5GB free on Nexus S when your internal app data partition has filled up — it’s all one big happy volume.

However the cost is that Android can no longer ever yield up the storage for the host PC to molest directly over USB. Instead we use MTP. On Windows (which the majority of users use), it has built-in MTP support in Explorer that makes it look exactly like a disk. On Linux and Mac it’s sadly not as easy, but I have confidence that we’ll see some work to make this better.

On the whole it’s a much better experience on the phone.

So for Windows users, the end result will look identical to UMS mode. For Mac and Linux users, well, they are out of luck at the moment.

In the second major announcement, it turns out that Android 4.0 has no support for Flash yet. With Adobe’s recent announcement that it is going to discontinue work on mobile Flash, this got a lot of users panicked. Google quickly responded to the public by saying this to SlashGear:

“Flash hasn’t been released for ICS yet so as far as we know, Adobe will support Flash for ICS.” – Google

This means that at launch, the Galaxy Nexus will not support Flash. Even from their quote, Google isn’t 100% sure that Adobe will come through. As an Android user, I can honestly say that I don’t use Flash every day, but there are some situations where it comes in handy, and would rather have the option to use it than no option at all.

All that we can do at this point is count down the days until Verizon finally decides to release the beast. There are multiple rumored launch dates ranging from the week of Cyber Monday all the way through December, so it’s anybodies guess at this point.

via [Droid-Life]


T-Mobile Offers New Prepaid Mobile Data Plans

Customers have been looking for prepaid data options for sometime. T-Mobile will begin offering phone data plans on October 18th and will follow on October 20 with the release of the Jet Prepaid USB Laptop Stick.

Prepaid Phone Data Plans:

  • $70/month Unlimited Talk and Text with 2 GB of Data
  • $50/month Unlimited Talk and Text with 100 MB of Data
  • $30/month 1,500 Talk and Text (mix and match voice and text messages) with 30 MB of Data
  • Unlimited Text and $0.10/minute
  • $1.49/day Web DayPass Read more

AT&T Introduces its First LTE and HSPA+ LaptopConnect Devices

At CTIA last week AT&T introduced their first LTE and HSPA+ USB devices for mobile broadband. In addition to this AT&T will be offering a pre-paid data plan which is detailed at the bottom of this article. The pre-paid data plans are very overpriced with all the other options available. Read more