Battery Efficiency Improved 400 Times by Accident!

Everything these days uses batteries of some kind or another, from the smartphone you use to text your friends to the tablets and electronic tools you use at work or school every day. In a surprising twist, researchers at UC Irvine may have discovered a way to increase the time a battery holds the charge by complete accident.

The discovery comes as the researchers were looking at creating a solid-state battery using an electrolyte gel, similar to the ones developed by Cockrell School of Engineering in Texas. The idea was to use the gel to replace the lithium inside a battery, a component that corrodes and creates the nasty smelling ooze you get on batteries you find at the back of your kitchen draws when you go looking for just one more battery.

Using gold nanowires to store the electricity within the battery, the new design lasted through 200,000 recharges without any significant decline in battery life or corrosion, something which they can’t explain. Reginald Penner, the lead author of the paper, stated that they “don’t understand the mechanism of that yet”.

Lasting more than 400 times longer than a traditional battery, Penner explained their experiment was like pouring water between two cups, the end results was the new batteries losing only 5% of their charge over 200,000 times.

While a great start to making effective batteries, introducing gold to any electrical component increases its cost and raises the question, could this new style of battery, combining a gel with thin wires of metal, use something other than gold to achieve similar results?

Toshiba Recalls Batteries Amongst Fears of Melting

Toshiba is a company known for their laptops and SSD’s, offering hardware to hundreds of people. If you are one of those people it may be best to double-check your laptop as Toshiba recalls batteries amongst fears of the batteries overheating and melting.

That’s right, the batteries can actually melt. Affecting nearly 40 different including popular Satellite models, the recall is expected to affect over 100,000 devices in the US and Canada alone.

In order to check if your battery, be it an original or one you’ve ordered as a replacement, you can go to Toshiba’s website and download a utility that will check if your battery is one of those affected by the recall. You can check the battery manually by comparing its battery part and accessory party number to the list provided here. As part of the recall, anyone who is found to have an affected battery will receive a replacement battery, with reassurances it won’t be one known for overheating and melt.

With large companies like Microsoft and Amazon having recalled equipment, all amongst heating and safety risks, the risk that a bad battery or charger is far too great to ignore. People have reported mobile phones exploding due to charging and most recently a mobile phones was found to have burst into flames on a plane, both examples of why we as purchasers and users of technology should be careful and check their devices when recalls such as these are announced.

Tesla Quietly Drops its 10kWh Powerwall

Elon Musk’s Tesla has quietly removed all mention of its 10kWh Powerwall home battery from its website and press kit, leaving the 6.4kWh model as the only version on sale, only a year after the pair were launched. Tesla has since admitted that the 10kWh iteration of the Powerwall has been discontinued.

“We have seen enormous interest in the Daily Powerwall worldwide,” Tesla told Greentech Media. “The Daily Powerwall supports daily use applications like solar self-consumption plus backup power applications, and can offer backup simply by modifying the way it is installed in a home. Due to the interest, we have decided to focus entirely on building and deploying the 7-kilowatt-hour Daily Powerwall at this time.”

Tesla’s 10kWh Powerwall, while a useful innovation, was significantly overpriced at $3,500, especially when compared with back-up generator options that can provide greater power output for around the same money.

“Even some of the deep cycling lead acid batteries offer 1,000 cycles and cost less than half of the $3,500 price tag for Tesla Powerwall,” Ravi Manghani, Senior Energy Storage Analyst at GTM Research, said. “For pure backup applications only providing 500 cycles, lead acid batteries or gensets are way more economical.”

The 10kWh Powerwall also failed to reap the benefits of California’s Self-Generation Incentive Program due its size, which meant that it did not meet the requisite five cycles-per-week threshold.

“In current discussions on SGIP program overhaul, it is very likely that stronger performance requirements may get added, which will make a 10-kilowatt-hour/500 cycles product outright ineligible (if cycled only once a week), or last only 2 years (if cycled every weekday for about 500 cycles over 2 years),” Manghani added. “In short, the market’s expectation is that for a $3,500 price tag, the product needs to have more than just 500 cycles (i.e., only backup capabilities).”

 

ASUS Travelair N Wireless 1TB Hard Disk Review

Introduction


When it comes to storage you can either go the ordinary and boring route, or you can opt for something that breaks with the norm with more features than you would expect. I’m taking a closer look at ASUS’ Travelair N today which is a portable USB 3.0 hard disk drive that also works wirelessly with a built-in access point, comes with an SD card reader built-in, and has One-Touch NFC capabilities on top of the 1TB storage capacity.

The ASUS Travelair N ‏(WHD-A2) is a 1TB portable USB 3.0 hard disk drive at heart and that in itself isn’t without. You can easily carry 500 movies, thousands of photos, songs, and files with you where ever you go. An ordinary portable drive has some limitations on the road, mainly the connection interface. What if you would like to access the drive from your mobile phone or tablet? What if you are far from a power outlet? Well, that is no problem with the Travelair N that comes with built-in wireless network capabilities and a battery.

Using the 2.4GHz band, the Travelair N can connect to pretty much any wireless devices available. It is compatible with IEEE 802.11b, g, and n-style connections which cover the entire spectrum of the wireless band. The antennas are internal, so you don’t need to worry about connecting them or breaking them off either. The Travelair N uses enterprise-level WPA2 wireless security to connect with your smart phone or tablet, ensuring all of your content is kept private and secure.

Not only does it come with built-in wireless capabilities, the drive also features a built-in 3300 mAh battery that is rated for up to 8-hours usage. This should be plenty of time until you’re near a charging ability again.

And no, ASUS didn’t stop here and added more features to this drive. The Travelair N supports NFC technology for instant one-touch connection to supported devices without any configuration needs. Simply touch your NFC-supported smart phone or tablet to the drive and you can browse your media library and files straight away.

The final feature of the drive itself is the built-in SD card slot that lets you back up your data from memory cards with simple steps. This is the perfect solution to empty the memory cards onto a larger storage medium and keep shooting those photos while you got the opportunity.

ASUS created the AiDrive companion app which is available on almost any platform: iPhone, iPad, Kindle Fire, or Android devices. The app features an intuitive user interface to let you quickly and easily view and share your photos, videos, and files.

The Travelair N can connect with up to five devices simultaneously when transferring files and up to three devices when streaming movies in HD quality. This allows you to easily share a single drive between multiple systems, devices, and people.

A portable drive needs to have a better resistance to environmental hazards and the Travelair N features an IP43-rated water-resistant design. This should guarantee a protection from accidental splashes and spills onto the drive.

With all the talk about USB 3.0 for PC connections and wireless for mobile devices, we shouldn’t forget that we also can connect a drive like this to all our other smart devices with USB or wireless capabilities, may they be gaming consoles, smart TVs, or something else.

Feature Highlights

  • One-Touch NFC for easy connection
  • Integrated SD Card reader expands storage capacity
  • Connect up to five devices simultaneously
  • Splash-proof design with IP43 water resistance
  • Intuitive, easy-to-use companion app

Package and Accessories

ASUS packed the Travelair N in a horizontal shaped box which is unlike most that come more square. That’s very fitting for a drive like this that is anything but ordinary. The front will let you know what you purchase in a simplistic design including features and capacity.

On the rear of the box, you find a lot more details to the different functions such as environmental protection, wifi, and NFC.

Inside the box was a USB 3.0 cable, a warranty card and safety notice as well as the quick start guide. Normally there would also be an AD/DC power adapter for charging purposes, but that was missing in my review sample.

Solar Cells So Small They Don’t Even Pop Bubbles

Solar panels are hardly small things, they are so big that some places even create large fields covered in just the devices, some laws even state that you either use them on your roof or you have grass. With recent advances in the field, increasing both how much energy each solar panel can absorb but also what they look like, it was no surprise that people are more and more keen to adopt the new technology, but sometimes giant panels, even hidden ones, are just too inconvenient to be considered useful; introducing the solar cells so small that they don’t even pop bubbles.

The solar cells were created by researchers at MIT, who while they state they are years away from commercial products, the proof-of-concept means that soon your phones and even your clothes could soon be powering all your gadgets. The process involves a vacuum chamber and avoids the use of solvents, something that differs from the traditional approach of high temperature and chemicals in solar cell production.

The researchers were able to demonstrate how light and thin their solar cell was by placing it atop a soap bubble, the bubble then remained intact. The problem with the cell though is it may be too small, making it maybe a little too prone to blowing away in the wind or after a heavy breathe.

Would you like to see solar panels integrated into more things? Your house windows or your roof, why not your watch or the back of your phone? The possibilities are endless!

Atlas The Robot Is Now Battery Powered and More

Boston Dynamics is a company that keeps pushing us further and further in the field of robotics. From Spot the Dog to giant canine like robots designed for military purposes (except for their noise apparently). The latest from Boston Dynamic though is something a little more human.

Atlas is Boston Dynamics humanoid robotics model, with two legs, two hands and all the abilities that could soon make it take our jobs. Atlas not only operates off battery power, an issue which has long left large robots plugged into the wall like a phone charger, but it also has the ability to self-balance. Demonstrated in the video, if you try to push over Atlas it rebalances itself to avoid falling over. Just in case, Atlas can also pick itself up off of the ground, for those unfortunate accidents.

Atlas isn’t just restricted to the office or warehouse, with the ability to open push doors (not so sure pull doors would work as well) and with the help from the balancing systems, can even go for those long walks in the woods with you.

We warn you, if the robots ever do rise up against their human overlords, chances are this video will be used as evidence of our abuse against robots.

LG G5 Bridges the Gap Between Modular Phones and Reliable Hardware

LG are a company known for many things, such as the 98 inch 8K UHD Television they showed off at CES this year. One of the things many people own that LG does well is their mobile phones, offering reliable and dependable hardware for your everyday use, but even LG are not blind to the latest crazes that are coming along, the most recent one being modular phones like the Ara.

Modular phones like the Ara are said to be the next stage in development because you will be able to pick your favourite parts for the phone and clip them together, just like when you are building a Lego house. It would seem LG wants to help you bridge the change from the brick you hold to the new snap and click design in their LG G5 mobile.

The G5 smartphone looks like any other smartphone at the moment, a large screen and minimal physical buttons on the phone. What’s new about the G5 though is the decision to go with a metal body, something that does nothing but to help you keep the phone alive for longer. The G5 will also feature a 2,800 mAh battery, something that tends to last most phone users through the whole day. If this isn’t the case for some reason though the G5 will bring back the concept of a swappable battery, an idea that should never have left mobile phones in my opinion.

If this wasn’t enough the phone will feature an “expansion slot” an area that means you can quickly add a module to enhance the phone just the way you like it. Going out for a day with the family at the zoo? Take the CAM Plus module, with autofocus, exposure lock and made to feel just like that DSLR everyone is lugging around, all with the added bonus of another 1,200 mAh of battery power for your phone.

Going to a party? Take the Hi-Fi Plus Module, offering support for high-definition audio files, the perfect companion for your latest album. If this wasn’t enough the phone will be joined by several “companion” devices, such as the 360 cam, giving you the ability to capture 360-degree photos and videos using just your phone.

With all these features and a step towards modular upgradable phones, LG could be onto a winner with the G5.

£500 Battery Opened – Contains Only £22 Worth of Batteries!

We’ve all had bad experiences with buying things, from ordering something online and never receiving it to misrepresenting a product to the point where you can sell something completely different from what people are expected to buy. This is even worse when the technology you use is something quite expensive, and replacement components costing quite a bit. At least, that seemed the case until Markus Fuller revealed a shocking secret via YouTube.

The Nagra VI (6) Digital recorder is used by a lot of people for recording everywhere including your favourite TV shows to the latest movies. In the video, you can see Fuller take off the case to reveal components that add up to £22 worth of batteries, which is terrible given that the model he takes apart would set you back £498.

If you ever wondered what £500 worth of batteries looked like the video may come as a bit of a disappointment as the small battery pack comes with just 6 batteries that are often used in laptops.

I don’t know about you but when you have to pay £500 for a replacement battery, you expect to receive at least a fraction of the cost to cover in the quality you receive.  With each battery only costing £3.75 each, replacing the whole pack in the replacement would cost you less than 5% of the cost they are charging you. What adds insult to injury is that in the pack he takes apart, only two of the batteries are “dead”, meaning that for £7.50 you can replace a battery pack that would cost you hundreds.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Battery Could Last Two Days on a Single Charge

Since the introduction of Apple’s first generation iPhone, mobile handsets have become more than a basic communication tool and many users rely on a huge selection of applications. While this provides incredible functionality on-the-move, the use of WiFi, mobile data and multiple applications at once puts a huge strain on battery life. Usually, it’s quite common for mobile devices to require daily charging especially if you’re a heavy user. This really is a major flaw of modern handsets, and reduces the convenience factor of having a music player, camera, and mini-PC in one portable device. Furthermore, there’s been a recent trend to prevent users to replacing the internal battery. This really does have a significant impact because over time the battery’s charging capacity decreases, and owning two batteries can help in an emergency.

According to Tweaktown, this could be an outdated concept on higher-end phones in the near future. A Russian blogger, Elder Murtazin claims he’s been using the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S7 and the battery reportedly lasted 17 hours on a single charge. Not only that, this was achieved with the screen brightness at 100% while playing video content. Murtazin also tested the handset with 75% brightness with LTE enabled and this resulted in a charge of over two days! These numbers are extremely impressive but it’s important to adopt a cautious approach. The source might be genuine, but it’s only from one user, meaning there’s no substantial evidence at this time. However, battery technology is destined to improve and a more power-efficient manufacturing process on the CPU should help matters.

Hopefully, modern handsets will be able to provide superb functionality without impacting on essential longevity. Manufacturers need to move away from the absurd notion of soldering the battery onto the PCB and giving consumers the option to make their purchase last longer.

Image courtesy of PCAdvisor

Lithium-Ion Battery With Heat Control Created

Lithium-ion batteries are used in everything, from your phone to handheld gaming devices. They are the basis for most portable powered devices but by design, they are typically quite old. While they’ve received their upgrades over time, lithium ion batteries have the same flaw a lot of technology has these days, overheating. Ever wondered why a phone or a hoverboard exploded? Fear not, Stanford researchers have come up with a new lithium-ion battery with heat controls!

The new design allows the lithium-ion battery to shut down when it gets too hot, then when it’s cool enough it will automatically restart. Zhenan Bao, a professor of chemical engineering at Stanford state that not only can the device turn itself on and off repeatedly but it does so “without compromising performance”.

Typical a lithium-ion battery contains two core elements, two electrodes and a form of gel or liquid that carries charge between the two electrodes. People have tried to solve this problem before by adding a flame retardant to the gel used in some. When punctured or overcharged, a lithium-ion battery tends to rise in temperature and at around 150 degrees celsius they catch fire, eventually exploding.

The new battery, however, uses a tiny bit of nano-technology, by coating an electrode with a poly ethylene film with tiny nickel particles with spikes extruding from the plastic surface. When the battery heats up, the film expands meaning the spikes are pushed away from each other and the electric charge can’t be carried through the nickel elements. When it cools they retract and the charge can start to flow again.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Tesla Model 3 Will Be Released

Tesla has been pioneers in the electric car field, this has helped by charismatic CEO Elon Musk who has pushed Tesla firmly into the mainstream with innovations that capture consumer imagination. Tesla now plans to launch the “Model 3” with speculation that it will be unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show on March 1st, 2016; this new model will sit alongside the current range that includes the model S and X.

Tesla’s chief designer Franz von Holzhausen had stated that the Model 3 will be conveyed to journalists and the public alike at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, but that year has well and truly passed without a sign of Tesla’s new model. Now, Tesla’s spokesman Khobi Brooklyn has confirmed that the Model 3 will follow the original plan of it being released in March of this year, a slight caveat to this is that the car is not expected to be on general sale until around 2017.

As for the price, reports suggest that it will be around the $35,000 mark (£24,103.85) or around £30,000 once various taxes have been added on. Reports also suggest that this car will be limited to 300,000 units, although, this could change depending on the popularity etc.

 

Tesla’s projects are always worth following and this one should be no different.

Razer Orichi Mobile Bluetooth and Wired Hybrid Gaming Mouse Review

Introduction


Razer is one of the most recognisable gaming brands on the market, having a huge range of mice that are suited for virtually any kind of gaming environment. Their latest mouse, the Orichi, is certainly a bit different from the usual crop of Razer gaming mice, but that doesn’t mean we’re not expecting great things from it. The Orichi features a compact design, making it ideally suited for those who travel a lot. Having a huge gaming mouse isn’t always ideal when you’re playing on a notebook, or even if you just have limited space, or simply prefer a smaller mouse. The benefits are obvious, as a smaller mouse is lighter and much easier to store, but has the cut-down size affected the performance.

Bluetooth technology is great and virtually any modern laptop comes equipped with it, meaning you’re no doubt already capable of quickly connecting the Orichi and getting into the action. Of course, when it comes to gaming competitively, there are many who refuse to use wireless tech, but don’t worry, as the Orichi comes with a dual function and can be used in a wired mode for lightning fast response times.

“Engineered with Bluetooth 4.0, the Razer Orochi is designed for portability and is the ideal companion for gamers who are always on the move. Switch conveniently to the wired mode to experience gaming-grade performance, control, and accuracy at a blistering 1 ms response time.”

Equipped with an 8,200 DPI laser sensor, wired and wireless modes, extra long battery life, 16.8 million colour RGB lighting and more, the Orichi is certainly well equipped. Let’s jump in and take a closer look at what it has to offer.

The packaging follows the usual Razer theme of black and green, as well as a nice image of the mouse on the front of the box, and a few major features detailed along the bottom.

Around the back, we can see more features, such as the dual function wired/wireless, fully programmable buttons, RGB lighting and the ambidextrous design.

In the box, you’ll find everything you need to get you ready to play. There’s all the usual documentation, some cool stickers, a protective carry pouch, USB cable and two Duracell AA batteries.

EE Power Bars Recalled Due to Safety Concerns – Again!

Mobile phones, tablets, handheld games consoles, many things these days can be charged off of a USB port and while many use their PC’s or laptops to charge their devices, some have taken to other ways to charge them. From a plug, a USB adapter or the more mobile solutions, people are able to store and charge with devices as small as your watch.EE made headline news when it revealed that it would be releasing their Power Bar’s, a small tube which you can plug into your phone or tablet and give it that last-minute boost.

EE made headline news when it revealed that it would be releasing their Power Bar’s, a small tube which you can plug into your phone or tablet and give it that last-minute boost. With the added incentive to be able to pop into any EE store and replace your drained power bar with a charged one, they became quite popular and many companies followed suit. That was until trouble struck. Back in April, EE gave out over a million Power Bars only to then have to recall any Power Bar with a E1-06 model number, thanks to the “small risk” of them bursting into flames and exploding.

This wouldn’t be too bad for them, except that EE has now identified a “very small number” of incidents where Power Bars can overheat, this means you could end up with a flaming battery in your pocket pretty quickly. As a result, EE is recalling every Power Bar that was ever handed out, as detailed in their statement released today on their website.

To help give you a little motivation if you are an “eligible” EE Customer, upon returning your Power Bar to an EE store, you will receive a £20 voucher.

With no information about a possible replacement or Power Bar Version 2.0, I can only praise EE for taking the hit and saying that the risk (no matter how small) is still too great.

Huawei’s Battery Prototype Charges to 50% in 5 Minutes

With the increase in screen size and power of smartphones, power is always a concern, many devices only lasting a day on a single charge. Current quick charging technologies go a long way to offset this, being able to charge a battery to full in around an hour. Huawei look to be setting a new benchmark for charging speed, however, showing off a battery capable of charging to 50% in just five minutes.

Revealed at a Japanese industry conference, Huawei’s fast charging battery is based on current lithium-ion battery technology, rather than some prototype fast charging technologies that use exotic developments such as injecting quantum dots of iron pyrite or switching to aluminum-ion cells. What gives this battery the ability to charge quickly is from atoms of graphite that are bonded to its anode. This means that the battery can be charged more quickly, with no cost to power output or life of the battery.

The battery has been showcased in two formats, a 3000MAh, which is comparable to modern phone batteries and a much smaller 600MAh version. The larger battery reached 48% charge over 5 minutes, while the smaller recharged as much as 68% in just two minutes. The videos do bring to light, however, one key limitation to their fast charging ability: the charger. With the battery needing to be removed from the phone and placed in a (rather bulky) charger, it is clear the product is still in its early stages, with no indication as to when it can be miniaturized enough to be embedded into a device.

I for one welcome a chance to never worry about charging times on my personal devices again. Afterall, who wants to sit tethered to a USB port for hours?

Facebook to Blame for Poor iPhone Battery Life

As an avid user of an iPhone 6 Plus, I’m sure that most will be aware of how great the battery life can be, but on the other hand, how downright bad it can also be. There are times when I find that even a whole day is pushing it for general use of my Apple device.

The iPhone 6S Plus is said to have some slight improvements and with the latest iteration of the operating system from the mobile mogul; iOS 9, one would hope that battery life would be greatly improved and while it was, there are certain aspects that hinder it at the same time, and a prime example of this would be the illustrious and popular Facebook app.

The news of this issue came to light by Matt Galligan on Twitter when he vented his anger at the issue.

https://twitter.com/mg/status/653239766780022785/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Feel free to check this yourself, as I did just that and can confirm that the app is indeed hogging a lot of my resources, and yes it’s worth noting that I am currently charging my iPhone as it comes towards 5pm.

A fix is apparently in the works according to Tech Crunch but when this will be rolled out is anyone’s guess.

An official statement to them reads:

“We have heard reports of some people experiencing battery issues with our iOS app. We’re looking into this and hope to have a fix in place soon.”

Until then, you will either have to put up with the terrible battery drain or delete the Facebook app for now until a fix is released, and for those wondering, Android is not affected.

Beats Launches New Beats Pill+ Bluetooth Wireless Speaker

The brand Beats and its Pill lines have been somewhat a revelation since entering the market in 2012, from celebrity endorsements to a booming sales forecast, this form of portable wireless unit has certainly captured the imagination of consumers. Now, the company has announced a new incarnation of the successful Beats Pill series with hopes of expanding its base even further.

Today, (7th October 2015) Beats have introduced a new product by the name of the Pill+ speaker, below are the announced features within the press release.

Sound – The Beats Pill+ is slightly larger than the original Beats Pill speaker, allowing for a bigger and fuller sound. The stereo active 2-way crossover system creates an optimized sound field for dynamic range and clarity across all genres of music. Tweeter and woofer separation uses the same acoustic mechanics found in professional recording studios around the world.

Design – . Compact and durable enough to throw in your bag, the Beats Pill+ has implemented convenient button controls which are now at the top of the speaker.

Power management – The Beats Pill+ speaker has a 12-hour battery life to stay charged on the go. The lightning cable and power supply provide a quick full charge in just 3 hours. Keep track of your power levels with the fuel gauge so you always know how much battery is left and use the USB port to charge out.

Additionally, a new feature by the name of the “Beats Pill+ app for iOS and Android devices” takes full advantage of app functionally. The additional features include controlling two Bluetooth sources, allowing consumers the chance to play from two Pill Plus speakers and also the opportunity to sync two units together for dedicated left and right playback and also a dynamic experience.

These features may be “added value” in order to increase the price instead of being of use to many consumers. The product is priced at $229.95, but it remains to be seen concerning the RRP for other countries and the release date is expected to be around November 2015 for the US.

Thank you businesswire for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of wired

Reports of iPhone 6S & Plus Randomly Powering Down

Smartphones have moved on leaps and bounds over the last decade, the processing power which is confined within a portable device is quite mind-blowing. But, these devices do have their problems which include generally poor battery life and a tendency to break if dropped, unlike that Nokia 1100 model which would puncture the floor while leaving the phone unharmed.

Talking of glitches, there seems to be a new problem which has been reported by many consumers who have upgraded to iOS 9 while using the iPhone 6S and iPhone Plus. According to reports via various tech forums, the devices in question “randomly and unexpectedly power off” which is certainly inconvenient. Users also report that their phones power down even if the battery is fully charged while others have noticed the home button felt warm or even hot. These reports have been mainly attributed to the above models, although one consumer noted similar problems on the iPhone 5S.

Below are responses from consumers concerning this issue

“I overslept this morning, because my phone quit working overnight! (no alarm) I tried the power button, but it was unresponsive. When I went to try a hard reset, I BURNED my finger on the home button”

The screen was off, and the phone rang. The screen remained dark, but the ringing kept going, but couldn’t be answered. The home button was EXTREMELY hot, and the only way to get the screen back on was to hard boot it (home and power buttons)”

“Happened twice, bought 6s+ (9.1 beta 2) on Friday was dead on Saturday night while charging. Happened again Monday afternoon. Reset all settings and nothing since. Am currently running beta 3.”

Consumers have since upgraded their phones to iOS 9.0.2 and are waiting to see if the problem reappears. There is speculation although no firm conclusion as of yet that the glitches might be down to the A9 processor within the iPhone 6S, which had two manufacturers; TSMC and Samsung.

Unfortunately, the nature and power of these phones will always lead to glitches and errors, Apple will need to ensure such instances are dealt with in a speedy manner with the aim of avoiding potential negative consumer views of the brand. Consumers will also be hoping that any bug fix updates do not introduce new problems to their devices, as in the case of the botched bug fix for iOS 8.

Thank you cnet and macrumors for providing us with this information.

Ambri’s Quest For a New Grid Battery Hits Problems

Rechargeable battery-based technology has steadily improved over recent years as demand has risen for lithium-ion based implementations, which include storing energy from intermittent renewable sources. The problem lies with the fore mentioned lithium based tech which are as yet both too expensive to run and also provide a shorter life span than desired for a wider scale role out of grid storage on an industrial scale.

This is where a start-up by the name of Ambri hoped to change that by committing resources with the aim of producing a new type of grid-scale battery. Unfortunately, Ambri has revealed disappointing test results for its novel technology which has led to the company axing one-quarter of its staff in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The start-up has also revealed plans to push back commercial deployment indefinitely.

Where did it all go wrong? The companies CEO, Phil Giudice explained that its down to the seals which keep Ambri’s liquid electrodes enclosed. “These liquid-metal batteries are housed inside steel cans that must be hermetically sealed with materials that hold up for many years”. Researchers have been working on this issue with the aim of developing the correct seals for the most part of this year (2015). However, after much tinkering it was concluded that current designs had failed to meet the correct performance standards which they are expected to achieve.

Ambri’s technology focuses on the usage of two liquid metals as electrodes; these are then separated by a liquid-salt electrolyte.

Another challenge which Ambri faces is the reality of challenging the market dominance of standard lithium-ion batteries, which have more or less taken over the market for electric vehicles and also for residential energy storage. These batteries continue to go up in performance and down in price, so much so that current market prices have dropped by half in the last few years. On top of this, there is also the view that “commercial and industrial use of lithium-ion batteries for energy storage could become economically viable in the next three to five years if the decline in battery prices persists.”

Ambri will need to perfect the technology behind this venture if it’s to challenge current tech at a comparable price point, if not then it will be a steep learning curve which could ultimately end in failure. I do feel there needs to be a more advanced battery power design which is kinder on the environment, after all, the huge quantities of materials and chemicals which are used to produce each battery and the disposal element all need to be factored in.

Thank you technologyreview for providing us with this information.

Apple iPhone 6S Teardown Confirms Weaker Battery

IFixIt has performed a comprehensive technical Teardown of the iPhone 6S to examine the handset’s build quality and overall construction. The iPhone 6S features an Apple A9 processor with embedded M9 motion co-processor, 4.7-inch 1334×750 (326 ppi) screen containing 3D touch functionality, 7000 series aluminium enclosure and Ion-X glass making for the best protection on the market today. Additionally, the device opts for a 12-megapixel iSight rear camera featuring 4K video recording. The front shooter is a fairly standard 5-megapixel sensor and you can choose between 16GB/64GB/128GB SKUs.

As with any modern Apple device, a range of tools and patience is required to do a component rundown. This is only a brief overview, and the complete guide can be found here. Apple utilized the usual array of ribbon flaps and hidden screws, but the new Taptic-engine takes up quite a large amount of space. Furthermore, the display assembly is rather hefty at 60 grams, and marks a 15 gram increase from the previous model. Rather surprisingly, the panel section weighs the same as Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus handset.On another note, the 3D touch sensor is labeled 343S00014 which doesn’t pinpoint to any major manufacturer but falls in line with Apple’s ICs. The battery capacity has been reduced from 1810 mAh to 1715 and comes in at 3.8V, 6.55 Whr. Apple had to reduce the battery size and capacity due to the Taptic Engine and thicker display. Finally, here is a complete rundown of the logic board ICs:

  • Apple A9 APL0898 SoC + Samsung 2 GB LPDDR4 RAM (as denoted by the markings K3RG1G10BM-BGCH)
  • Qualcomm MDM9635M LTE Cat. 6 Modem (vs. the MDM9625M found in the iPhone 6)
  • InvenSense MP67B 6-axis Gyroscope and Accelerometer Combo (also found in iPhone 6)
  • Bosch Sensortec 3P7 LA 3-axis Accelerometer (likely BMA280)
  • TriQuint TQF6405 Power Amplifier Module
  • Skyworks SKY77812 Power Amplifier Module
  • Avago AFEM-8030 Power Amplifier Module
  • 57A6CVI
  • Qualcomm QFE1100 Envelope Tracking IC
  • Toshiba THGBX5G7D2KLFXG 16 GB 19 nm NAND Flash
  • Universal Scientific Industrial 339S00043 Wi-Fi Module
  • NXP 66V10 NFC Controller (vs. 65V10 found in iPhone 6)
  • Apple/Dialog 338S00120 Power Management IC
  • Apple/Cirrus Logic 338S00105 Audio IC
  • Qualcomm PMD9635 Power Management IC
  • Skyworks SKY77357 Power Amplifier Module (likely an iteration of the SKY77354)

The Apple iPhone 6S has some rather subtle under-the-hood changes but feels quite iterative compared to its predecessor.

What do you think of the iPhone 6S hardware?

Thank you IFixIt for providing us with this information. 

Solid State Batteries “Could” last a Lifetime

Among the many annoyances of a tech lovers life which includes, overheating, constant patching, hacking and dropped connections, there is the term battery or lack of considering your average smartphone is dead by the end of each day. Don’t get me started on your run of the mill double A battery, it was fine for a Gameboy, until you had to unreel a long wire with a plug on the end to continue playing, but not for today’s hi-tech toys.

Hopefully, an evolution is on the horizon after researchers at MIT and Samsung have developed a new approach to one of the three basic components of batteries, which in this case is the electrolyte. The premise involves developing a solid electrolyte instead of the current liquid used in today’s most common rechargeables. Current batteries use a liquid organic solvent whose function is to transport charged particles from one of a battery’s two electrodes to the other during charging and discharging, this process has been responsible for the overheating and fires which have caused high-profile disruption.

Another advantage of a solid state electrolyte is the ability to limit degradation to near 0; therefore such batteries could last for “hundreds of thousands of cycles.” Researchers also state these batteries provide a 20 to 30 percent improvement in power density. This means the amount of power that can be stored in a given amount of space can be increased.

By reducing these factors, researchers are hopeful this technique will improve efficiency and waste of the common battery, which in turn will benefit consumers. On a side note, it will be interesting to note how you would put this into practice with the aim of analysing if these batteries would really last for hundreds of thousands of cycles. Indefinite lifetimes in theory, let’s see what a Galaxy S6 makes of that.

Thank you MIT for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of computerworld

Silent Ads Are Slowing Your Smartphone and Stealing Data Allowance

Ever wondered why your battery is going down faster or your data allowance is just evaporating, though you’re not really using your smartphone that much? The answer is ads… and a lot of them. You may not see them on-screen, but research company Forensiq has said that they are there and found over 5,000 such apps available on iOS and Android.

Forensiq tells that an estimated 20 ads per minute are delivered, summing up to 700 ads per hour. That’s quite a lot, even though they are not displayed on your screen. This may not seem that bad, but take note that the ads need internet connection to work. So when you are not home and have no Wi-Fi available, your data plan is just wasted on ads you don’t want and can’t stop.

The research company notes that a single app may be able to download 2GB of data per day. In addition to data allowance loss, poor battery life will be a side effect of the apps that keep downloading and shuffling these ads. So you not only lose a lot of your monthly data allowance, but you can also find yourself with a dead phone when you need it.

A full report has been made on this issue, but it does not mention any specific apps in question. However, Google Play recently suspended three apps that had the above mentioned behaviour, namely Waxing Eyebrows, Celebrity Baby and Vampire Doctor. The latter are not available on iOS, though other similar apps are present on Apple’s store too. You may think that Apple is more strict when it comes to their store, but truth be told, silent ad-serving is not on the company’s priority list when it comes to choosing what goes on the AppStore and what doesn’t.

While you don’t really have a way of detecting these apps, you can start to take notice of how much data your phone uses daily and how much battery individual apps use. I know the Google Store has some pretty neat apps for that, but even so, the native built-in features in the latest iOS and Android operating systems should be enough to give you an idea if you have silent ad-serving apps installed.

Thank you MacNN for providing us with this information

Microsoft Found a Way to Improve the Battery Life of Wearables

A team of researchers over at Microsoft have finally found a way to improve the battery life of wearables. We all know that the latter don’t come with a big battery pack, so finding workarounds to extend their battery life has always been a priority for manufacturers.

The technique is said to involve pairing wearables with smartphones via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi in order to shift all heavy workloads to the smartphone, hence having your smartphone acting as an external processing unit. This means that your wearable will act mostly as a way of displaying data from your smartphone, having it draw just enough battery to sustain the pairing connection.

Researchers over at Microsoft are said to have tested the system, named WearDrive, on an Android phone. The results showed an improvement of over three times in energy consumption for the wearable and an acceptable energy consumption impact on the handset. In addition, the wearable had its execution performance increase eight times compared to it not being paired to the smartphone.

While wearables don’t have the performance nor battery life of a fully fledged smartphone, the technique seems to help quite a lot in performance as well as battery life. Also, WearDrive is said to automatically deactivate itself when not in range of a paired smartphone, so you don’t have to worry about it running in the background.

Thank you TechSpot for providing us with this information

Patriot, Luxa2 and Antec USB Battery Head-to-Head Review

Introduction


Smartphones, eBook readers, tablets, portable gaming devices and so much are vital to our daily lives. Ok perhaps not all the devices we use each day are vital, but they’re important to each user in their own way. One thing many of these devices, if not all of them, is that they run on batteries and these days you’ll find that most devices have a built-in battery that is charged via USB, or if you’re an Apple fan, a lightening cable. There’s nothing worse than being on a night out, away on a business trip, out camping, or even just relaxing at home, only to find out your battery is dying or has died. We’re not always within easy reach of a charging socket and carrying around the mains adaptor isn’t always the most practical solution. This is where mobile USB battery recharges come into play and today we’ve got three solutions to try out. The real question is, which one is best suited to your needs?

In the office today I have the Patriot Fuel+, the Antec Lifebar 10 and for something a little different, the Luxa2 PL1. Each of these is designed a little differently from each other, so let’s get right to it and see what they have to offer.

The PL1 was included in this test, as I loved the unique approach to its design. It doesn’t come in a leather pouch, it is the leather pouch.

The stitched design is really nice and it’s quite slim too, meaning it’s going to fit easily in your jacket pocket or handbag very easily. It’ll also look more stylish that a big hunk of plastic.

There’s a magnetic cover on one end, just flip it open and you’ll find the microUSB charging socket (in) and the standard USB charging socket (out). The PL1 is rated for 2800mAh.

The compact size is easy to hold in your hand and the overall quality feels very good.

The Fuel+ is a lot bigger than the Luxa2 device. It’s got a stylish white and red theme, but it’s quite clear that this is a big mobile battery. There’s a set of LED lights down the side to show you how much charge is remaining, as well as a master power button.

There are two charging ports on the Fuel+, a 2.5A and a 1A; perfect for charging a high power device such as an iPad, as well as a mobile phone at the same time.

The Fuel+ is rated at 900mAh.

It’s not very big overall, as you can still hold it in the palm of your hand, but it is quite thick, meaning it’s not going to be suitable to fit in your pocket.

The Antec Lifebar is the largest and the heaviest of the three devices and comes with a metal exterior that not only looks great but also makes the unit feel more durable than the others.

Like the Fuel+ it has two charging ports, a 2.1A and a 1A.

There’s a small power button on the end, which could be a little better in terms of quality if I’m honest, but there’s also an LED light that can be used a torch if you double tap the power button. There’s also four small LED lights above the charge (in) MicroUSB that show the current charge remaining.

The Lifebar is slim enough to hold in your hand, but it’s length and weight make it a little too much to keep in your pocket.

Silicon Power Introduced High Capacity Power Banks

Nothing is worse than having your mobile gadget run out of power while you’re on the go and that is where mobile power banks come into play. An extra large battery to charge your batteries. Silicon Power has just introduced their newest two power banks, the Power S102 and the Power S82.

The Power S102 features an impressive 12000mAh while the Power S82 comes with an 8000mAh capacity. Both come with two charging ports, allowing you to charge two devices simultaneous with up to 2.1A each.

When fully charged, the Power S102 has enough juice to charge an iPhone 6 around 4.4 times which in return means that you can go a long time without having to be near an outlet.

S102 and S82 offer a 10-second Power Saving Mode so that the power bank will turn off automatically in ten seconds when devices are fully charged and conventional protections such as over current protection under voltage, over voltage and SCP are built in to provide safety for both the power bank and your mobile devices. A 4-level LED indicator lets you easily see the charging status at any time.

They S102 and S82 both come with a warranty of 13 months and product liability insurance up to USD 10 Million.

Samsung’s Cutting Edge Research Could Theoretically Double Battery Capacity

Samsung’s Institute of Research and Technology has developed an innovative production process based on a new silicon cathode covered in high-crystalline graphite to double the battery life compared to existing products. This results in a huge density increase without any concessions being made in terms of battery size. In Hyuk Son, a specialized researcher on the team explained“The research has dramatically improved the capacity of lithium-ion batteries by applying a new synthesis method of high-crystalline graphene to a high-capacity silicon cathode. We will continue to improve the secondary cell technology to meet the expanding demand from mobile device and electric vehicle markets.”

(a) A low-magnification TEM image of Gr–Si NP. (b) A higher-magnification TEM image for the same Gr–Si NP from the white box in a. (Insets) The line profiles from the two red boxes indicate that the interlayer spacing between graphene layers is ~3.4 Å, in good agreement with that of typical graphene layers based on van der Waals interaction. (c) A high-magnification TEM image visualizing the origins (red arrows) from which individual graphene layers grow. (d) A schematic illustration showing the sliding process of the graphene coating layers that can buffer the volume expansion of Si.

The diagram above provides a synopsis of the technical research paper and indicates how the symbiosis of silicon and graphite merge into a high-capacity battery. While this is exciting news, I cannot see it being widely implemented on an affordable, mainstream product line for many years. Samsung are undoubtedly at the cutting edge of technological advancements and aiming to distinguish themselves from Apple, HTC and other competitors. Handheld devices have consistently become more capable of multi threaded and demanding tasks which puts great strain on battery life. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to carry the computational horsepower around without having to perform daily charges?

Thank you The Korea Times for providing us with this information.

Google Chrome Is Ready to Stop Draining Your Battery

If you stopped using Google Chrome on your notebook or smartphone, then you most likely did it because of its battery draw rate. Nobody wants to see their battery go from 100 to 0 faster than an F1 racing car and Google finally saw that their browser really had a big issue.

The search giant is said to have made a few changes to its Chrome browser involving Flash content. The browser is now able to turn off unimportant content and improve battery life on mobile devices and notebooks.

Google is also taking a smart approach for Mac users. They now see that when someone focuses on a browser tab, it means that he or she is interested in that particular web page and not the dozens more opened and running alongside it. What I’m talking about is an ancient feature, already present in other browsers, which makes foreground tabs take priority and shuts down content in background tabs. But this does not mean you can’t still listen to your YouTube or SoundCloud songs in background tabs.

The browser will also see an improvement in terms of CPU usage when running in the background, going down from 0.3 to 0.1 percent. While this does not mean a great deal, I can tell you that 0.1 percent battery usage is the same amount all mobile device applications use in the background. This includes your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Mail and so on.

It is said that the new battery improvement features will be made available for the beta version of Chrome in about six weeks. Chances are that it will hit the stable version in twelve weeks, provided that no big issues crop up.

Thank you TechSpot for providing us with this information

Emergency Smartphone Charging with USB Type-C

With the recent announcement of Android M at the Google I/O developers conference, it has been stated that smartphones running this operating system and that are equipped with USB Type-C (or USB-C that Apple has fondly called it); has the ability to charge another smartphone or similar device with the use of a reversible USB-C cable.

This effectively turns any Android M and USB-C smartphone into an emergency battery pack. Just say your friend needs a quick boost of juice, simply plug the phones together and hey presto, you’ve just given life. This could be used across a wider range of products, such as smart watches (if they use cables) and possibly even laptops and tablets; however, we charging a larger device probably wouldn’t yield huge power transfer due to the comparable size of the smartphone battery compared to the tablet or laptop.

USB-C is the future, not only is it reversible at the plug, but it can give power, provide video output and transfer data. Larger hardware such as laptops and desktop computers haven’t fully embraced USB-C due to the lack of components out there that use the new standard.

I can’t wait for this to become the true USB standard; not having to worry about what way the cable goes in just seems like a dream when you’re constantly unplugging peripherals.

Thank you to Mashable for providing us with this information.