Editor’s Picks: What We Like

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A Cord-Free Future

Commonplace electronics may go completely cordless in the next few years. According to a CNN article, wireless electricity isn’t too far off. One way that wireless electricity could function is by converting power from an electrical socket into a magnetic field that is then sent through the air at a specific frequency — a technology called magnetically coupled resonance.

“Five years from now, this [technology] will seem completely normal,” Eric Giler, CEO of WiTricity, said in the article. Giler’s company, which was developed from a Massachusetts Institute of Technology research team, is one of several groups working on the concept. (Check out his demonstration of the technology at TED.com.)

Wireless electricity, in whatever form it may appear, could have huge societal and environmental implications. Eliminating the need for power cords could lead the way for the adoption of electric cars, while decreasing the production of disposable batteries could benefit the environment, the CNN article stated. Additionally, wireless electricity could simply make recharging laptops, cell phones and MP3 players much more convenient.

The Smart Phone War

This fall, The Wall Street Journal reported that Dell will build a mobile phone for AT&T using the Android platform, likely available in early 2010. This is exciting news on the mobile device front, as it has the potential to further diversify the booming smart phone market.

The phone is Dell’s first foray into cell phone development. Dell’s phone will be based on Android, a mobile operating system running on the Linux kernel. Originally begun as a small startup, Android was acquired by Google and then folded into the Open Handset Alliance. It’s been available as open source software since last year.

Its key features are high adaptability to third-party applications and libraries, a high rate of compatibility with various networks and support of a range of media formats and hardware. It’s billed as easily maintained and able to support open-air download of applications, without the use of a PC. Further, it supports a high level of functionality in touch-screen usage.

Application of Android was already seen in the mobile phone market in Google’s HTC Dream — often referred to as the gPhone — but to date that has seen sales of roughly 1 million, compared to BlackBerry’s estimated 28.5 million and iPhone’s more than 21 million. We’ll see whether Dell’s input will make for a sleeker, smarter design that captures the public’s imagination and excels Google’s entrance into the mobile phone market.

eBay to the Rescue

One of our editors has a cell phone that’s been on its last legs for a while, but recently it developed a new quirk. If it’s touched with damp fingers, it dials itself until it dries out. (It really likes the number seven.) Plus, while it’s happily dialing that one number — without stopping — our editor can’t access text messages or dial out. While she can accept incoming calls, whoever is calling hears the number seven beeping over and over. Needless to say, it makes holding a conversation a little tough.

She looked into buying a new phone, but she didn’t want to have to renew or extend her contract. So, after sending out numerous feelers and asking around, she discovered — dum, dum, dum! — eBay sells phones sans contracts.

Now all she’s got to do is perfect the fine art of bidding online.


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