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When You're Taking a Charge, Wired Is Better

by Keith Gatling | 11 months ago

Well, I’ll have to admit that one of the upsides of being pretty much confined to my house for the past two or so months has been the ability to catch up on some of my reading. And I don’t just mean my pleasure reading, which I’ve actually done very little of, but my technical reading for work. The stuff I read so that I can help more of you people out.

One of the things I read recently was about wireless charging. Yeah, I’d heard of it, but hadn’t paid much attention to it. But now here was a whole article explaining how it works, what devices it works with, and the advantages and disadvantages of it.

After I finished reading it, I reached the same conclusion that I’ve reached with other wireless technologies: 

Wireless is more convenient, but wired is often better and more reliable.

Let’s start with something we all know and are familiar with...wireless internet, or WiFi. How many of us can even remember a time when WiFi didn’t exist, and if you wanted to use the internet, you had to sit in one place, with your computer tethered to an Ethernet cable (yeah...you’re like “What’s an Ethernet cable?”).

WiFi made it possible for us to move around, and use our laptops anywhere in the house. But there was a price to pay, and that price was in speed. There used to be a much bigger difference, but now a wired connection is only about twice as fast as a wireless one. And let’s face it, it doesn’t really matter that much to most of us. We’re so used to the slower speeds that come with the convenience of WiFi that whatever came with Ethernet would seem like doing 120mph on the autobahn.

Then there’s Bluetooth. Oh please. Let’s talk about Bluetooth.

Don’t get me wrong, Bluetooth is great for wirelessly controlling things (provided you have enough power), but for listening to things, it leaves a lot to be desired.

In my old car, we connected my iPod, and later my iPhone, to the sound system with an analog audio cable that plugged into the headphone jack, and the sound was perfect...as long as the audio cable was good. But if the audio cable got frayed, there went the music.

My new car had a jack for an audio cable, but it also had the ability to do Bluetooth. Not only did it mean that the music got sent to the sound system via a low-power radio signal (that’s what Bluetooth is) that didn’t require a cable that could be easily broken, but it also meant that you could control the music from your steering wheel.

Just one problem though...that low-power radio signal is digital, and drops out...or skips...every now and then. This is something that never happened with my somewhat trusty audio cable. I suppose there are trade offs.

However...what was bearable in the car was totally unbearable while walking. The occasional skip in the car while listening to music...or even while listening to podcasts and audiobooks was just something I couldn’t deal with while taking a walk with my Bluetooth headphones. Actually, I didn’t mind missing a beat or two of the music, but what were last two words the speaker said? And since I tend to listen to podcasts while I’m walking, that was a problem. It was back to wired headphones for me.

But wait...the new iPhones don’t have headphone jacks anymore. Everything’s Bluetooth. What’ll I do? Well...there’s a little dongle I can buy that plugs into the Lightning port and gives me a standard headphone jack, but how good will that be? I guess I’ll have to try it out on my wife’s phone; she’s got one of those new ones.

Which brings us back to wireless charging. I don’t know about you, but to me this seems like a solution to a problem that no one was having. I mean, was it really that hard to plug your phone in at night? And for all its convenience, it still takes longer to charge a device wirelessly than it does with a wire.

Besides...that wireless charging pad...it has to be plugged in somewhere.