Technology explained

  • What Can You Do With a 20800mAh Power Bank?

    What Can You Do With a 20800mAh Power Bank?

    20800mAh Power Bank

    In the next two weeks, eeco will unveil an all-new 20800mAh power bank. This is double the capacity of our first power bank. Using your feedback and looking at how popular our 10000mAh Type-C power bank became, we wanted to create something equally great.

    Built using a full aluminum case like its predecessor, our new 20800mAh monster is sleek, ergonomic and beautiful. An inevitably larger size does not mean gross bulk – but it does allow us to fit more ports inside.

    Three powerful ports providing the fastest charging speeds on the market accompany the Samsung-branded batteries contained inside. QC 3.0, Type-C and our very own smartIC port are standard.

    QC 3.0 charges your device up to 80% in just 35 minutes, while the Type-C port is powerful enough to charge a MacBook. Finally, our smartIC port is 20% faster than a conventional 2A port in most power banks.

    Truly a triple threat to batteries everywhere.

    So – it begs the question: what can you do with a 20800mAh power bank?


    1. Charge Your Nintendo Switch

    Provides you with up to 15 hours of Legend of Zelda playtime. Check out this blog post for more.

    2. Power Your MacBook

    Keep working in peace with enough juice for one full charge with some left over.

    3. Charge Your iPad/iPad Air/iPad Pro and Other Tablets

    Watch movies, play games and FaceTime for a long, long time. 

    4. Watch Movies All-Day Long on Your Smartphone

    Unlimited Netflix pleasure.

    5. Travel for a Week Without a Wall Charger

    Backpack in peace without needing to be stuck to a wall outlet.

    6. Charge a Fitness Band

    Very much on-the-go.

    7. Charge Your Drone’s Batteries

    Fly high and stay high – just follow aviation rules. 

    8. Charge Your E-Cig/Vape

    This proves that USB technology is in just about everything.

    9. Power a Raspberry Pi and Compute Anywhere

    You can play Pacman, too.

    10. Power a One Can Refrigerator

    Only one can. For those who can’t resist cracking open a cold one.  

    11. Charge Another Power Bank for Unlimited Power

    It’s not really unlimited… 

    12. Take it Camping

    Fun under the stars. 

    13. Keep Your Digital Camera Charged

    Snap, snap, snap away.

    14. Power a Wireless Charger

    Yes, you can do that.

    15. Power a USB Fan for the Hot Weather

    Cool off – perfect when you’re stuck watching Peewee games. 

    16. Charge Your Smart Belt

    Health, fashion… style?

    17. Charge Your Robot Cat

    And other robots, too.

    18. Run a Mini Fish Tank

    Do take care of the little ones. It’s a snazzy home for them.

    19. Power a Digital Photo Frame

    Show off and relive those precious memories day after day.

    20. Doubles as a Paperweight

    If all else fails, the weight will keep your important documents in place.


    There are many, many products that can be charged with a power bank – but we’ll stop here. What can you do with a power bank? We’d love to hear from you!

    六月 19, 2017 By masy@eeco Blog Technology explained
  • smartIC: eeco’s Newest, Fastest and Safest Charging Technology

    smartIC: eeco’s Newest, Fastest and Safest Charging Technology


    smartIC Logo


    Recently, eeco is releasing brand new products with smartIC technology. But what is this technology and why does it matter? smartIC is a charging technology that makes charging better and faster, while keeping it safe for your valuable mobile devices. Our exclusive technology is similar Anker’s PowerIQ and Aukey’s AiPower. All three perform the same function, however, smartIC provides more safety features than others.

    The Dumb Wall Charger

    Most wall chargers that come bundled with phones and other gadgets are not smart. What this means is that they serve one purpose and provide only one purpose: charging. Wall chargers send the most power they can provide to any device, no matter the device. If you have a wall charger that can provide 2A of power, but a device that can only handle 1A, the charger will send 2A instead of 1A. Therefore, it’s dumb.

    With smartIC, our power banks and wall chargers recognize which device is connected, sending only the most power your device can safely handle. Our chargers can send 2.4A of power or more, but if your device can only take 1A of power, smartIC will automatically adjust to a lower amperage. In conclusion, it prevents harmful side-effects of charging such as overcharging, overcurrent, and overvoltage that can short-circuit your device.

    Overcharging

    A simple explanation of overcharging is this: a dumb charger will send too much power that causes heat, which degrades the life of a battery. Once a battery hits 100%, a dumb charger will continue to send power. smartIC chargers have a chip which allows them to sense when a device is fully charged. Our chargers stop charging your device when it is full. This prevents overheating and a shorter battery life. It sucks having to change your battery every year.

    Overcurrent

    Without smart charging technology, mobile devices can become victim to overcurrent (excess current). When too much of an electric current is passed onto a device from the charger and cable, it creates excess heat. This carries the risk of damaging the device and/or causing a fire.

    Overvoltage

    Overvoltage occurs when voltage sent by a power source to a battery is higher than normal. This is dangerous. Overvoltage can cause every object in use to get very hot, burst into flames or cause objects like cables to melt because of the high heat.

    smartIC: Your Device’s Personal Bodyguard

    Designed to prevent damage to your mobile device. Imagine the following example. When you connect your mobile device to a smartIC enabled charger, the cable sends a coded message from the device to the charger. To provide power to your mobile device, the charger must crack the code. By doing this, it sends the right amount of power every time. It doesn’t matter which device is connected, smartIC will crack the code.

    What eeco Products Are “Smart?”

    smartIC is one of the cornerstone technologies in our products. Along with Guard+ Technology, you can find smartIC in all of our USB products. It is specially placed inside every wall charger, power bank and USB hub. You’re guaranteed a fast, safe charge every time with any of our USB products.

    Questions? Contact us directly at any time to learn more about smartIC. We’re more than happy to talk with you!

     

     

    六月 5, 2017 By masy@eeco Blog Technology explained
  • USB-C 3.1: The Battle of Generations

    USB-C 3.1: The Battle of Generations

    USB 3.1 Generations Infographic


    USB-C THE BATTLE OF GENERATIONS

    What is USB-C?

    • USB-C is the latest version of Universal Serial Bus (USB).
    • It is a low-profile connector that is reversible, putting an end to fumbling with ports.
    • Its biggest advantage is the ability to provide power, video and audio output, data transfer and Ethernet all in one connector type.

    Confusion: USB 3.0 & USB 3.1

    • In a nutshell, USB 3.0 is exactly the same as USB 3.1 – but only Generation 1. USB 3.1 brings with it the Type-C connector, but provides the same power and data transfer capability as USB 3.0.
    • Visible difference: USB-A 3.0 is blue inside.

    Benefits of USB Type-C

    USB-C knocks out the need for cables and dongles – just one cable can do so much.

    • It is slim, small and reversible
    • Ultra-fast data transfer speeds up to 10Gbps
    • Up to 100w of power that can safely charge laptops
    • Universal compatibility with all USB devices and legacy devices
    • Removes the need for legacy ports/cables

    Generation 1 vs. Generation 2

    •  Gen 1: 5 Gbps data transfer speed => Supports up to 65W => Max cable length: 6ft => Thinner cable
    • Gen 2: 10 Gbps data transfer speed => Supports up to 100W => Max cable length: 3ft => Thicker cable

    Who wins?

    • USB 3.1 Gen 1 is good, but Gen 2 is better. Moving 4K UHD movies, huge photo galleries, music albums and other large data is nearly instant. All it requires is a USB Type-C 3.1 Gen 2 cable.
    • As with anything USB – Gen 2 is backwards compatible.
    六月 2, 2017 By masy@eeco Blog Technology explained
  • Smart Home and Home Automation Protocols: Breaking Them Down

    Smart Home and Home Automation Protocols: Breaking Them Down

    Smart Home products are quickly taking over the buzz around consumer tech, and so are their proprietary home automation protocols. Every Smart Home product comes with a protocol for control and use. What are these home automation protocols? Which one is the best?

    More devices than people

    2014 was the first year in which mobile devices surpassed the number of people on Earth, and they are multiplying five times faster than we are. IDC (International Data Corporation) and Ericsson predict there will be at least 28 billion Internet of Things enabled devices by 2020.

    That’s a lot. There’s also no arguing that mobile devices like smartphones are ubiquitous in a smarter future. Read more about Smart Home products in our previous post.

    With a sleuth of IoT connected devices, there are also multiple protocols that control them. There is no single standard when it comes to home automation protocols. Luckily, there are only five major protocols that guarantee control of most Smart Home products. The best part is, you already own two of these home automation protocols.

    Big Five Home Automation Protocols

    Wi-Fi

    Every major Smart Home product has Wi-Fi capability. Wi-Fi was never intended to be a home automation protocol, but because it’s so widely available and everyone has access to it, companies quickly adopted it for home use. Wi-Fi is not particularly power-efficient nor is it very strong when a lot of devices are connected (unless you have range extenders throughout the house). But it does have a big advantage: Smart Home devices connected via Wi-Fi do not require a smart hub for control. It’s easy to set up Smart Home devices with a quick connection to the home’s Internet.

    Wi-Fi is one of the best home automation protocols. It’s ease of use and ease of connectivity makes it user-friendly and provides device control from anywhere in the world (with the respective app).

    Bluetooth

    Every smartphone available on the market today comes with Bluetooth. It’s a low-energy home automation protocol that allows control of smart devices by using a phone or tablet. Bluetooth is power-efficient, and a single charge on a Bluetooth device can provide standby times of a month or even a year. Unlike Wi-Fi, Bluetooth devices have a short range (usually 10m indoors). So, if you want to dim the lights using your smartphone or tablet, you must be in physical range to do so.

    Master & Slave

    Master & Slave is one of the most useful connection types for Bluetooth. Bluetooth acts as the master and connected devices are slaves. One master can connect to multiple slaves, and the slaves can only connect to one master. For example, your mobile phone’s Bluetooth can connect to your thermostat, lightbulbs and your car’s audio system. As you walk through your home, the thermostat automatically sends a message via Bluetooth about the current temperature and efficiency; lightbulbs automatically turn on/off as you walk in/out of a room and your car plays music from your phone as soon as it turns on.

    Z-Wave

    Z-Wave is currently the most popular home automation protocol. Over a thousand devices and a hundred companies make Z-Wave compatible products, and the numbers continue to grow. It uses a proprietary method for home automation that all manufacturers of Smart Home products must abide by. If a company wants to make a Z-Wave compatible product, it must license the use of chips from Sigma Designs. These chips simplify software and hardware development, ensuring that all Z-Wave devices can work together.

    Z-Wave products must also be certified before they can use the official logo. It’s all very similar to Apple’s MFi Certified program.

    Unlike Wi-Fi, Z-Wave requires the use of a smart hub to send signals and control devices. Built using sub-1Ghz frequencies, it doesn’t interfere with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (~2.4Ghz) signals. A useful feature is Z-Wave’s repeater function. Each additional product in the home repeats signals, extending the network reach so your entire home is covered and nothing is out of range.

    ZigBee

    ZigBee is the first wireless home automation protocol for the Internet of Things. It offers low-power use and mesh networking – making each connected device act as a repeater. Mesh networking allows home automation networks to grow with each device added. If one ZigBee device only provides 10m of range, adding five more devices can theoretically increase the range to 50m. This ensures operating range is never blocked by big objects like tables and sofas or walls or anything else.

    ZigBee may have been first on the scene, but it’s popularity and use is declining. Bluetooth is better at power-efficiency and Z-Wave also offers mesh networking. Is ZigBee here to stay? Time will tell.

    Thread

    Thread is a home automation protocol created by Google Nest, in collaboration with major players such as Samsung, ARM, Qualcomm and others. It aims to become the sole home automation protocol of the future by uniting existing protocols. It creates a dedicated network (IPv6 address) that doesn’t rely on an Internet connection/Wi-Fi. Running on its own IPv6 address means it’s easier to connect to the Cloud.

    Thread also runs on the same IEEE 802.15.4 physical radio standard as ZigBee and Z-Wave. The advantage of this is huge. By using the same radio standard, Thread is compatible with ZigBee and Z-Wave devices. ZigBee and the Thread Group have already started working on interoperable products between the two standards.

    Which home automation protocol is the protocol for me?

    Even with these five major home automation protocols summed up, it’s still a tough decision. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are must-haves in any Smart Home product. Having one or both ensures your devices will remain compatible with their respective app on your smartphone. But what about Thread, ZigBee and Z-Wave? Thread is still very new and there’s not many devices that use this protocol, but collaborating with ZigBee may prove to bring about worthwhile products.

    As for ZigBee, it’s an older standard that is losing the Smart Home market every year to Z-Wave. Z-Wave does everything ZigBee does, but better. Mesh networking (additional products acting as repeaters) ensures a Smart Home network never goes down. Using a sub-1Ghz frequency means no interference with Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. There are also more Z-Wave compatible products on the market than any other home automation protocol.

    Whichever home automation protocol you decide to choose, remember that any additional Smart Home products you purchase down the road will need to be compatible with what you already have.

    It also helps to think about the category of products you will buy to better narrow your decision on home automation protocols. Our previous blog post covers a few Smart Home product categories.

    Choose wisely.

    五月 19, 2017 By masy@eeco Blog Future Living Technology explained
  • USB – A History: Evolution from USB A & B to USB Type-C

    USB – A History: Evolution from USB A & B to USB Type-C

    USB A HISTORY

    USB-C has gained considerable traction since it was first released two years ago. It is the go-to connector for most mobile phones, tablets and even laptops, today. The only exception is Apple’s Lightning connector – but even Apple has adopted USB-C for its MacBooks.

    To better understand USB’s current evolution to Type-C, it’s important to go back in time and see where USB started.

    USB Type-A

    A very, very long time ago, USB started with Type-A, which is most familiar to any person on Earth. It’s the easily recognizable flat rectangular shape. Type-A is the original design for the USB standard, one that continues to survive today.

    Of course, Type-A has been upgraded, all the way from 1.1, 2.0, 3.0 and 3.1 today. USB Type-A is backwards compatible so 3.1 works with 2.0 and 1.1.

    As the most numerous of all USB designs, you can find it everywhere. Cables are one object, but desktops, laptops, flash drives, wall chargers and car chargers and a sleuth of other devices use Type-A.

    USB Type-B

    Enter the B. Type-B came into the scene and changed things. On one end (male side) is Type-A and on the other end (female side) is Type-B. Type-B came with several new designs, often creating confusion. Out of five common designs, only one remains most popular: Micro-USB.

    It’s the most prolific of USB Type-B ports, found on any smartphone and tablet that isn’t an Apple device. Its small design meant it was perfect for compact devices and the design allowed both charging and data transfer ability.

    Micro-USB once reigned as prince of USB design, but its days are coming to an end. USB Type-C is quickly taking over the throne.

    What about…?

    Is Lightning and the 30-pin connector considered a USB design? Yes and no. On one end, the proprietary design belongs to Apple, but the USB end is still USB Type-A.

    The updates in USB

    As USB designs changed and technology pushed forward, revisions were made to bring better functionality. USB 1.1 came out in 1998 and was only able to provide data transfer at speeds of 12Mbps. Then in 2000, USB 2.0 introduced charging capability and provided a mind-blowing top speed of 480Mbps data transfer.

    It wasn’t until eight years later when 2.0 was upgraded to 3.0. USB 3.0 crashed through the gates with a theoretical transfer speed of 5Gbps – 10 times faster than its predecessor. Ports and connectors are colored blue to differentiate them from 2.0.

    The 3.x confusion…

    USB 3.0 is a worthy upgrade, but then the USB Implementers Forum – the group responsible for the development and certification of USB products and standards, decided to rename it 3.1 Generation 1. It’s the same thing as 3.0.

    3.1 brings us to 3.1 Gen 2

    This is now the era of USB 3.1 Gen 2. It doubles the speed from 5Gbps to 10Gbps, but also increases max power output to 20V-5A for a total of 100W. Enough to charge Macbooks and other laptops, this new iteration of USB brings with it the Type-C connector.

    USB Type-C

    Still backwards compatible with all USB types (you’ll need an adapter, though), the Type-C connector is a massive upgrade. No more flipping and turning the connector type this way or that way to squeeze into a port; the connector is now fully reversible like Apple’s Lightning connector.

    Type-C also revolutionizes the USB world by making many of the connector types we use today – obsolete. USB-C (a.k.a. Type-C) provides audio, video, power and data transfer all into one connector. It’s no wonder new mobile devices and laptops are choosing to become slimmer at the expense of losing bulky legacy ports.

    The ability for USB-C to deliver 100W of power means laptop AC chargers are a thing of the past. All it takes to charge laptops like the Macbook Pro is a USB wall charger and a USB Type-C 3.1 Gen 2 cable. Those same accessories can then be used to power a smartphone or tablet as USB-C automatically adjusts the amount of power delivered by detecting which device it is connected to.

    One Port and Connector to Connect them all

    For consumers, USB-C is a connector of convenience. Not having to fumble around with three different USB-B cables for three different devices and not having to carry around a 3.5mm audio cable, an HDMI cable and a power cord is a blessing in disguise. Just one cable replaces all the former connector types and their respective cables.

    Yes, it’s true there are not that many USB-C devices out there. Companies continue to make Micro-USB and legacy port devices. As with all new technologies, early adoption is a slow but steady process.

    However, it is a guarantee that USB-C will be the connector of the future. Apple’s Thunderbolt 3 connector uses USB-C and Intel claims it has developed a USB audio standard to make the 3.5mm audio jack totally obsolete. These are two tell-tale signs of the C revolution.

    To learn more about USB-C and what it replaces, read our previous blog post.

    五月 15, 2017 By masy@eeco Blog Technology explained
  • Smart Home and Smart Products Explained

    Smart Home and Smart Products Explained

    Smart Home Explained

    Wireless technology continues to advance every year. It leads to innovations in many ways, one of which is Smart Home technology. Smart Home is a blanket term for home automation, which consists of wirelessly controlled devices replacing conventional devices in the home. Examples of these devices include doorbells that let you see and talk to visitors, thermostats that automatically adjust temperatures by learning your behaviors, and lightbulbs that can dim and change color to suit your mood. Other examples include automated cookware, appliances and security.

    Why do we have Smart Home technology?

    Smart Home technology is intended to ease the stress of home maintenance and provide home owners with security and control over their place of comfort. It is also intended to reduce energy waste by letting computers do all the hard work.

    Eco-friendly

    Products such as Nest’s Learning Thermostat aim to save energy and reduce monthly bills. Over time, the thermostat learns when you’re at home and when you’re not, and automatically adjusts the temperature accordingly. Thanks to a mobile app, the thermostat can be controlled via Wi-Fi, allowing you to fire-up the heat/air-con when you leave the office or turn it off when you’re on the other side of the world.

    Smart lightbulbs like the popular Philips Hue provide the ability to change color and dim the lights using a Wi-Fi enabled app. While changing color provides no energy-saving benefits, the ability to dim the bulbs does. When you’re not in need of a bright room, dim the lights and save money on your energy bill. Up to 50 Hue bulbs can be connected at once, leading to a controlled home from anywhere in the world.

    Smart plugs for auto on/off

    Smart Plug Appliance Control

    Several companies create smart plugs, which can also be wirelessly controlled. Smart plugs are possibly the best Smart Home product. Any device or appliance plugged into a smart plug can be turned on/off by using a mobile device. A few apps allow the plugs to be scheduled, so they turn on at exactly the right moment. For example, a coffee maker connected to a smart plug can be scheduled to turn on at 7am, giving you a freshly brewed pot of coffee when you get to the kitchen. Additionally, when you get to work and can’t remember if you turned the stove off, a smart plug helps to make sure it is.

    Security

    Smart Home Security

    While saving energy and cutting your monthly utility bill is a major reason to upgrade to a Smart Home, security is another reason. Smart Home technology has made home security much more affordable. Installing security cameras, door cameras and motion sensors has never been easier. Wi-Fi capability provides the ability to see who is ringing your doorbell when you’re not home; motion sensors detect if an intruder is inside and sends a notification to your mobile phone; and cameras installed inside the home let you see if Fido is going through the trash again.

    When it comes to security, not everything revolves around Wi-Fi. Most devices that are controlled via Wi-Fi can also be used with Bluetooth. Bluetooth enabled door locks can unlock the front door when you get home, so you don’t have to fumble with keys or worry about getting locked out.

    Be a better cook

    Do your cookies come out unpalatable? Are you just too tired to mix up the right amount of ingredients after a long day? Smart Home kitchen products are making cooking effortless. Ovens, air fryers, fridges and coffee makers are becoming smarter. The June Intelligent Oven makes roasting a breeze. Place a dish inside, select what you’re cooking using the app, and the oven uses built-in cameras to cook food to perfection.

    Meanwhile, the Perfect Bake Pro ensures you use the right amount of each ingredient to make the perfect baked goods. It’s a Bluetooth kitchen scale that comes with an app containing recipes and step-by-step guides. By placing a container on the scale, it tells you how much to add of each ingredient and when to move onto the next one. Your next batch of chocolate chip cookies will be one to remember.

    Finally, Crockpot has got a Wi-Fi enabled version for the most delicious slow-cooked recipes you can come home to. Sure, security and energy saving is nice – but cooking delicious food with little to no effort is even better.

    Voice control

    Smart Home Voice Control

    By now, you’ve heard about Amazon Echo or Google Home. These are two major Smart Home products created by their respective companies. Voice control brings a sleuth of features and convenience to a Smart Home. All your Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connected devices can now be controlled by voice – from anywhere in your house.

    “OK Google, turn down the temperature to 23 degrees.”

    “Alexa, turn on the home alarm system.”

    “Siri, dim the lights to 50%.”

    Voice assistants are convenient to use on a mobile device, but become even more so when it comes to home automation. Most Smart Home products on the market are compatible with one or more voice assistants.

    The future is smarter

    Home automation is the future of our homes. Smart Home products are innovating our “dumb” devices and appliances, leading to a truly futuristic home. Anything and everything we use today will eventually be controlled by our smartphones. The convenience, security and savings are major advantages to a Smart Home.

    What does a Smart Home look like to you? Have you bought/will buy Smart Home products? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.

    五月 9, 2017 By eecotech Blog Future Living Technology explained
  • Debunked: setting straight the top five charging myths

    Debunked: setting straight the top five charging myths

    5 Charging Myth

    “Don’t charge your phone all night.”

    “Don’t charge your phone before draining the battery.”

    “Don’t use a phone while it’s charging.”

    We’ve all heard these “don’ts” many times before. These are just a few of the many battery and charging related myths out there. It’s time they were examined and… debunked!

    Charging Myth #1

    Don’t use your phone while charging

    Many people believe that using a mobile device while it’s charging is bad for the battery. The belief is that the combination of use, charge and heat will reduce battery life faster than normal. Then there’s also the danger of overheating.

    Truth: Mobile device batteries have come a long way and so have chargers. Quality chargers will only send enough power to the phone as necessary. With technologies such as Quick Charge and Dash Charge, overheating is a thing of the past. So go ahead, watch movies, play games and connect with your friends while charging.

    Charging Myth #2

    Charging a phone overnight will damage the battery

    Truth: Battery and charging technology has advanced. Smartphones are smart enough to know when a device is fully charged. Once a phone hits 100%, it stops drawing power from the charger. This means the battery isn’t being used at all. There is nothing wrong with leaving your mobile device charging through the night.

    Charging Myth #3

    Drain the battery before charging

    Truth: Draining the battery all the way close to 0% is detrimental because it causes batteries to become unstable. The optimal amount of charge for a phone is anywhere between 40%-80%. Don’t drain; hold a charge.

    Charging Myth #4

    All chargers are the same

    Truth: No, not all chargers are the same. Some chargers are made with better quality and materials in mind. It’s tempting to buy a cheap charger to save money, but the trade-off is safety. If a charger comes without warranty or safety certifications, you can risk damage to your mobile device or worse: battery explosion and/or fire. Be sure to purchase a charger that complies with international standards and certifications.

    Charging Myth #5

    You don’t need to turn off mobile devices

    Truth: Electronics are not invincible machines that can run 24/7 without encountering any problems. Mobile devices like smartphones need to take a break occasionally. It may be an inconvenience to turn off your phone and miss important updates, but you don’t have to do it every day. Turning off your mobile device once a week is enough for it to rest and get back to work the next day.

    There are many more battery and charging related myths out there. Before Li-ion batteries came along, these myths held some truth. However, technology is more efficient and much smarter than ever before. Before believing what aunt Helen says about sticking a battery in the freezer, read the manuals your product came with. If the answer is not there, contact the company directly.

    五月 5, 2017 By eeco Blog Technology explained
  • 5 things to consider before buying a power bank

    5 things to consider before buying a power bank

    5 Things to Consider Before Buying A Power BankPower banks make life easier by keeping portable devices charged wherever you go. Whether you are going camping, traveling overseas or commuting to work, power banks are a must-have electronic accessory. But there are so many brands making a variety of power banks, which one is the best? Here are five things to consider before buying a power bank.

    What is a power bank?

    A power bank is a portable charger for mobile devices. Like a smartphone, it contains multiple Li-ion batteries allowing you to charge on-the-go. They come in various shapes and sizes but all perform the same core function: charging.

    1. Capacity (battery size)

    The capacity – or how much power a portable charger holds – is an important factor to consider. Capacities can range from 2000mAh to over 30000mAh. If your smartphone or mobile device has a battery size of 3000mAh, you can charge it fully once with a 4000mAh power bank and still have some juice left over. With a 10000mAh power bank, you can charge your mobile device up to three times! However, the larger the battery, the bigger the size and weight.

    1. Physical size and weight

    If you need a power bank with a large capacity, then you’ll have to sacrifice a little bit of portability. 2000-4000mAh power banks are not much bigger than a permanent marker and are convenient for daily commutes and short trips. Power banks with capacities of 10000mAh to 20000mAh or more are considerably bigger and heavier because of how many batteries are inside the device.

    1. Number of ports

    How many devices do you need to charge at one time? The amount of ports on a power bank can severely limit you and your friends if you need to charge more than one device. Ideally, a power bank with two or more USB ports is best. With two ports, you can charge a phone and a tablet or laptop at the same time.

       3.5. It’s also important to consider the type of port: USB-A or USB-C? USB-C can charge faster than Micro-USB or Lightning. As more devices adopt USB Type-C ports, it’s an advantage to have a power bank with such a port.

    1. How fast it can charge

    Wall chargers can charge a mobile device within one hour. Standard power banks take longer to fully charge a mobile device (an hour or more!). But there are proprietary charging technologies from several brands promising to charge a smartphone up to 60-80% in 30 minutes, for example Qualcomm’s Quick Charge.

       4.5. While Quick Charge is an excellent way to charge your device faster, USB-C is another option. USB-C provides enough power and speed to charge large devices such as laptops and the new Nintendo Switch.

    1. Extra functions and cool tricks

    Power banks are not just limited to charging a device. There are a handful of power banks on the market that do more. Some come with a handy LED flashlight to light up the night; others heat up to double as hand warmers for the winter season. Finally, some power banks are built rugged to handle falls and even the occasional dip in water.

    There are other factors to consider when purchasing a power bank, such as safety certifications, price and brand reputation. eeco’s power banks meet safety certifications like FC, CE & RoHS. Thanks to the eeco Promise, it anything goes wrong, all products are covered by a 24-month warranty.

    四月 28, 2017 By eeco Blog Technology explained
  • Wireless Charging – the magic of inductive charging

    Wireless Charging – the magic of inductive charging

    Wireless charging is magic. Actually, it’s not. But if you weren’t living in the 21st century, it might as well be. Wireless charging is – literally – charging without the need of a wire. No cables, tangling or frustration. Simply drop your smartphone on a wireless charger and watch the magic begin.

    It’s not magic – so what is it, scientifically?

    Wireless charging – or inductive charging – is a method of charging electronics that uses an electromagnetic field to send energy between two objects. Both objects require an induction coil within them to transfer energy a.k.a. charge.

    Phone charging wirelessly

    1. Power is provided to the wireless charger via a cable connecting it to a battery charger.
    2. Energy provided is alternating current (AC).
    3. The wireless charger then sends that energy via induction coil to the device’s induction coil.
    4. Alternative currents between the two induction coils create a magnetic field.
    5. The magnetic field generates a current within the device.
    6. Current flowing into the device’s induction coil (receiver coil) is converted into direct current (DC).
    7. The device is thus charged.

    Key advantages

    The key advantages of wireless charging are:

    1. No wires to connect the two objects to charge.
    2. Electronics are closed and nothing is exposed to water or air or particles. Corrosion and electrical faults are therefore not a concern.
    3. Without having to plug or unplug anything, charging ports remain durable and in good condition.
    4. It is aesthetically pleasing. No cables are involved.

    Wireless charging is magical, but it does have disadvantages. For example, because a direct current is not sent from charger to device, the device charges slower. Much of the energy is lost during conversion. At the same time, inconvenience is an issue. To charge a device wirelessly, it must remain on the wireless charger. Moving it away cancels the charge. This means you can hardly use your phone while charging.

    Lastly, a big issue is heat. Wireless charging causes phones to heat up considerably, which could potentially harm its battery.

    It’s still a baby

    Wireless charging is still a baby, but there is much more technological innovation and development planned. Multiple standards currently exist, but for smartphones and tablets, Qi is the one to look at. Most smartphones that support wireless charging use this standard.

    Samsung Galaxy S6/S7/S8, Google Nexus 5/6 and Nokia Lumia lines use Qi wireless charging. With the vast amount of smartphones out there, consumers can expect Qi and other standards to be adopted in the future.

    It’s not just smartphones adopting wireless charging as a safe and convenient method of charging. Wearable tech like smartwatches are next in line. It’s much easier to charge a smartwatch by dropping it on a wireless charger than plugging it in and out each time.

    Companies have also developed ways to bring this convenient method of charging to electronic devices that use AA batteries. Video game controllers, remotes, toys and many more consumer electronics use AA batteries. PowerbyProxi has developed a method to create wirelessly charging AA batteries. Imagine dropping your PlayStation controller, drone or RC car onto a wireless charger without needing to carry and fumble around with cables. It even becomes unnecessary to remove batteries from electronics to charge them.

    It’s an eco-friendly method that will reduce battery waste, which is a difficult and hazardous material to dispose.

    Don’t have a Qi compatible phone? Don’t worry!

    Charging adapter for wireless charging

    There are a few ways to bring wireless charging to your device. If you’re lucky enough to have a phone with a removable back cover, you can apply a wireless charging adapter to the back, such as the one in this video. As the adapter sticks onto the battery and is hidden under the back cover, an attached cable inserts into the phone’s charging port. This then delivers power to the phone via wireless charging.

    Some phones like the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 have stick-on wireless charging coils that don’t require the need for a charging port. They simply stick onto the battery and provide wireless charging capabilities. Check out this video to see how it works.

    If your phone is sealed and can’t be pried open, you may still be in luck. For example, Sony’s Xperia Z2 and Z3 can be wirelessly charged by purchasing a case that has a battery and wireless capability built-in. You’ll always need to have the case on, though. A few products with the same function also exist for Apple’s iPhones. If you’re looking for longer battery life and protection, these two-in-one wireless charging cases are a handy phone accessory.

    Is wireless charging the future?

    A wireless charging future is a convenient future. Technologies are being developed where devices can be charged simply by entering a room. Wireless charging may one day be an invisible wavelength always around us. But that is still a future to look forward to.

    We are heading towards a wireless future, but a wirelessly charged future is still in the works.

    四月 10, 2017 By eeco Blog Technology explained
  • The dangers of using damaged cables

    The dangers of using damaged cables

    The wireless revolution has gained significant traction in the past decade, but the world’s dependence on cables continues. Cables are an everyday and necessary item for each mobile device. Apple is cutting down on how many cables consumers need for their products, but it’s still chained to them.

    Cables are inexpensive and widely available. Most of us are abusive with them. We’ll tug them straight out of the outlet or throw them into a pocket or bag without properly wrapping them. Eventually, the rubber tears and the wiring inside begins to fray.

    Damaged cables are dangerous

    When a cable is forcibly bent in a particular direction or the rubber casing begins to tear off, it means a cable is damaged. It’s a warning sign: get a new cable.

    Using damaged cables is dangerous. Not only is it dangerous to your mobile device, but it can have greater consequences such as electrocution and can be considered a fire hazard.

    The National Institute of Technology and Evaluation (NITE) in Japan warns consumers about the danger of charging cables. Over a five-year period, 48 cases were recorded in which cables caused minor injuries and property damage. To prove how much a hazard damaged cables can be, NITE produced a video that shows a cable purposefully bent, then straightened. Once in use, the cable begins to emit smoke.

    According to the Office of Compliance (USA), 53,600 home fires were caused by electric failure or malfunction from damaged power cords in 2008. In dollar cost, that is $1.4 billion in property damage.

    Don’t use a damaged cable

    Not only is there a danger of electrocution from a damaged cable, but you can also cause shorting of your expensive mobile devices.

    Once a cable is frayed or pinched (bent or chewed on), it doesn’t deliver power in the same, safe way it used to. A smartphone may charge slowly, intermittently or not at all. By continuing to use the damaged cable, you can risk shorting your smartphone.

    What to do if a cable is damaged

    As soon as a cable shows signs of wear and tear, stop using it and replace it immediately. Continuing to use a damaged cable is not only dangerous, but it is also a violation of the US National Electrical Code.

    eeco’s cables are made to withstand abuse by using a Kevlar-like material. These cables can withstand up to 10,000 bends. But even these cables can fail, so make sure to replace them when needed!

    For tips on how to make your cables last longer and take better care of them, check out our previous blog post!

    四月 6, 2017 By eeco Blog Technology explained
  • Why Quick Charge 3.0 is Worth Caring About

    Why Quick Charge 3.0 is Worth Caring About

    Browse around Amazon’s electronics section or go shopping for a new smartphone and you are likely to encounter the term “Quick Charge 3.0” quite a lot. The trouble is, a recent consumer survey showed that only a small minority of consumers had ever heard of QC 3.0 and fewer still could explain how it works. Given that we are preparing to release a series of QC 3.0 products, we felt the time was right to produce a little explainer and make sure we’re all the on the page, after all, Quick Charge 3.0 is an exciting technology that provides a practical benefit that anyone would welcome.

    What does it do?

    Put simply, Quick Charge 3.0 will charge your phone much faster than standard charging. With QC 3.0 it takes just 35 minutes to charge a typical 3000mAh smartphone battery from 0% to 80%. With normal 1 amp charging you’d only be able to charge up to 20% in that time. When you’re in a rush this kind of time saved can make all the difference. Getting to 80% with regular charging can take a glacial 2 hours or more.

    Quick Charge Infograph

    The reason fast charging is measured up to 80% is because that’s the period when you can make full use of the extra speed. From 80% onwards charging has to be done more gently at low current so as not to overload the battery. Nevertheless, if you wake up in the morning to find your phone completely out of power, being able to charge it to 80% in the time it takes for a shower and a bite of breakfast could be a lifesaver.

    How does it work?

    You might assume that faster charging comes from increasing the current, but it isn’t as simple as that. Most devices have a hard limit in the amount of current they can accept, usually around 2.4 to 3.0 amps, so increasing the current beyond this won’t give you faster charging. Rather than increasing current, Quick Charge improves charging through what Qualcomm calls Intelligent Negotiation for Optimum Voltage (INOV). This determines the exact power level that the battery requires at any given time and adjusts the voltage accordingly. In other words, the speed increase comes from charging that is smart and efficient rather than simply more powerful.

    What’s the difference between QC 2.0 and QC 3.0

    The main difference between QC 2.0 and QC 3.0 is that the former could only adjust the voltage in large increments (5V, 9V, 12V). With Quick Charge 3.0, the voltage can be adjusted anywhere from 3V to 20V in tiny increments of 200mV which is a far more efficient and effective way of charging. It should be noted that Quick Charge 3.0 is fully backward compatible, so if you have a slightly older device supportive of only QC 2.0, the QC 3.0 charger or power bank will detect this and adjust accordingly.

    Which devices are compatible?

    As a Qualcomm standard, Quick Charge is mainly compatible devices equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, which can be found in the majority of Android devices. QC isn’t limited to Qualcomm processors though, Samsung’s Exynos processor is an example of a non-Qualcomm chipset also supportive of Quick Charge technology. QC 3.0 is still relatively new so broadly speaking only devices released in 2016 support it, for example the HTC 10, LG G5 and Xiaomi Mi 5, but this list is increasing all the time and it won’t be long before most Android phones support it. Apple devices are of course the main exception and aren’t compatible with any type of Quick Charge, although a QC wall charger or power bank will still be able to charge a non-compatible device at maximum current, just without the INOV feature.

    Do I need a Quick Charge 3.0 charger?

    If you exclusively use iPhones then Quick Charge 3.0 isn’t something you need to be too concerned about. However, for Android users it’s definitely a technology you should be aware of as the boost in speeds is significant enough to be able to change your daily routine. If you own a compatible device then getting a charger that supports QC 3.0 is a no-brainer. With a slightly older device chances are you’ll still be able to take advantage of not-to-be-sniffed-at QC 2.0 speeds until you upgrade. Faster charging is something that everybody wants and the progress made in recent years has been very heartening. Quick Charge technology is definitely something worth looking out for and taking advantage of if you can.

    十二月 14, 2016 By eeco Blog Technology explained
  • Survival of the Fittest: Only USB-C Will Reign

    Survival of the Fittest: Only USB-C Will Reign

    It’s now clear USB Type-C’s march to dominance is unstoppable, but what does this actually mean for you and the way you use your devices?

    The major manufacturers are all starting to make the switch, from Apple with the MacBook and MacBook Pro to Google with the Pixel. 2017 is sure to be the year that USB-C becomes mainstream, replacing Micro-USB as the primary charging method for new phones. However, the impact of USB-C won’t just be limited to smartphones, it will completely shake-up almost every area of tech.

    What is USB Type-C?

    type-c-web-1

    USB-C actually has little in common with previous versions of USB, whether the chunky Standard-A or the fiddly Micro-B. Previous versions of USB all used a similar layout with generally 4 or 5 pins, and could only be connected one way up (as we all know only too well…). Type-C has a bountiful 24 pins and is fully reversible, meaning there is no right or wrong way up. It isn’t just an addition to previous versions, it seeks to unify and replace them all with something much better.

    What will it replace?

    One thing that’s clear is that the adoption of Type-C is going to be extremely disruptive to other cable types and technologies, even those that previously seemed far removed from USB. Below is a summary of just some of the standards that could fall victim to USB-C.

    usb-c-replace

    • Micro-USB/Standard USB – This goes without saying, Type-C was specifically designed to replace previous USB versions, whether for charging devices or connecting hardware.
    • Lightning – It might take a few years but the writing is on the wall for Apple’s Lightning connector. USB-C will become too ubiquitous to avoid, and with the MacBook and MacBook Pro Apple have already shown they’re a fan.
    • HDMI cables – USB-C can carry 4K video and digital audio which puts it in direct competition with HDMI. HDMI themselves are developing a Type-C version of an HDMI cable (more on this below), so it may be a case of “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”.
    • Laptop power adapters – USB-C can carry up to 100W, enough to charge and power laptop computers. Consumers will be only too happy to see the back of the bulky power adapters that were needed previously.
    • 3.5mm audio – The latest specification of USB-C supports digital audio, which is bad news for the old 3.5mm audio jack. The process of it being replaced is already underway and it won’t be long before all new phones ship without a dedicated audio port.
    • USB-A Flash drives – An obvious one, but major nonetheless. All the millions of flash drives in circulation are going to slowly become obsolete, replaced by faster and more compact USB-C flash drives.
    • USB-A charging ports – The charging ports that you find on the back of plane seats, in hotel rooms, on public transport and all over the place are going to have to be changed at some point.  
    • DVI connectors – The bulky connectors that connect a desktop computer to a monitor will be among the first to fall. The display capabilities of Type-C are more than up to the task and the monitor could potentially be powered through the same cable.
    • Ethernet cables – Ethernet cables are on the way out anyway as more people switch to wireless, but once an ethernet compatible USB-C cable is produced it’s fate will be sealed. An ethernet Alternate Mode for Type-C is apparently not difficult to produce, so it won’t be long before we see the back of the old ethernet connectors and ports. Speaking of Alternate Modes…

    Alternate Modes

    One further feature of USB-C that is likely to lead to the demise of other cable types is its customizability. Third-parties can apply for a USB-C Alternate Mode, which allows them to make changes to the pin layout while still complying with the USB-C standard. Examples of this include Thunderbolt 3, the extra-fast version of Type-C used on the new MacBook Pro, and HDMI. The USB-C HDMI Alternate Mode is fully compatible with HDMI 1.14b, adding lots of home cinema features that regular USB-C lacks such as surround sound and 3D support. A version compatible with HDMI 1.20b, the most recent HDMI standard, is surely in the works. If this trend continues we can expect to see more existing cable types switch to using USB-C connectors while retaining their original functionality.

    The upside to all this is that future hardware need only come with one type of port, whether it’s a smartphone, laptop or high-end television. The downside is not all USB-C cables will be equal. Consumers may assume that because a device includes a USB-C port it will work fully with an existing USB-C cable they have, but this won’t always be the case. Alternate Modes like Thunderbolt 3 or HDMI will still need dedicated Thunderbolt 3 or HDMI cables, it’s just they will all fit the same shape of port.

    USB-C vs USB 3.1

    Another slightly confusing aspect of USB-C is its relationship with USB 3.1. They are sometimes thought to be one and the same, but are actually two different things. USB-C refers to the physical shape of the connector and the layout of the pins, while USB 3.1 is the standard it uses for data transfer (up to 10 Gbit/s, twice as fast as USB 3.0 and more than 20 times faster than USB 2.0). It’s possible for a Type-C connector to use an older specification like USB 2.0, and it’s equally possible for an old style USB-A connector to use USB 3.1. However, USB-C’s compact size, reversible head and versatility gives it a huge advantage over the older connectors. No USB-A connector can carry 4K video and digital audio for example, even if it is USB 3.1 compatible; these are Type-C features unrelated to USB 3.1.

    Putting the Universal in Universal Serial Bus

    The U in USB stands for “universal”, and it seems over the next few years USB will finally start living up to that name. The whole industry is supporting it and it is probably the most versatile connector in existence. You can spare a thought or two for all the existing cables and technologies that will fall by the wayside, but really we should be cheering their demise. Having a unified connector head for everything makes life so much easier for everyone, whether it’s manufacturers, developers, or most importantly, consumers.

    十二月 7, 2016 By eeco Blog Technology explained
  • Why Put Kevlar In Cables

    Why Put Kevlar In Cables

    aramid-infographic-final

    Kevlar is best known as the incredibly strong material used by the military and SWAT teams in their body armor and helmets. This reputation as “bulletproof” has sometimes led to a bit of confusion as to the purpose of putting Kevlar in cables. Some reviewers have taken such cables to the firing range and been disappointed when the cable couldn’t stand up to being shot by a handgun at close range. Of course the purpose of adding Kevlar to cables isn’t to make them resistant to gunfire, it’s way more useful than that (for the ordinary consumer at least!). Let’s have a closer look at this fascinating material and see what it has to offer the world of electronics beyond “bulletproof”.

    Kevlar? Aramid? Twaron?

    One point worth making clear is that the name Kevlar is actually a trademark of DuPont, meaning that legally you can only call your material Kevlar if you buy from them. There are various other trade names out there for the same material, such as Twaron and Technora, but we prefer to use the actual name for this type of material, “aramid fiber“.

    Strong stuff

    kevlar-graph-1

    Aramid fiber has a pretty impressive set of properties. In terms of density (and therefore weight) aramid is comparable to linen and even nylon, yet it is also significantly stronger than both steel and diamond in terms of tensile strength. Tensile strength is a measure of how well a material stands up to being stretched or pulled apart, in other words exactly the kind of property you’d want in a durable cable. Despite being close to unbreakable it’s still barely any more dense than nylon, a material used in women’s stockings. This strength to weight ratio is pretty much unbeatable across material science and explains aramid’s popularity in extreme equipment.

    Why is it so strong?

    It’s all about the chemistry. Other polymers are relatively weakly bonded and are free to move around, creating a somewhat chaotic structure that can described as being like “spaghetti”. Aramid is unique among polymers in that the chains remain rigid and bond to each other perpendicularly through super-sturdy hydrogen bonds. This structure is extremely difficult to break, it takes a huge amount of energy to cut or penetrate a solid piece of aramid fiber. The strong hydrogen bonds also mean that aramid fiber is impossible to melt and will only begin to suffer damage at temperatures in excess of 450°C.

    aramid-polymer-grid

    How does it improve a cable?

    It’s obvious why the military would be interested in such an indestructible material, but what is the advantage of using something as exotic as aramid fiber in cables? As we covered in detail in an earlier article, the main cause of cable failure is damage to the internal wiring through bending stresses. With an aramid strengthened cable this kind of damage is massively reduced as the forces are dissipated through the strong fibers rather than the vulnerable wiring. The aramid coating also means the cable is much less likely to bend sharply or kink in the first place, despite it remaining easily flexible.

    The verdict

    Dismissed as a marketing gimmick by some, there are in fact significant advantages to be had through reinforcing cables with aramid fiber (Kevlar). The high tensile strength is the perfect property for strengthening cables, hugely reducing the damage that is usually suffered through bending and twisting, and all while adding barely any weight to the cable. It’s these properties that make aramid fiber so attractive to those aiming to produce long lasting, premium cables.

     

    十一月 30, 2016 By eeco Blog Technology explained
  • Apple’s Big Event: What You Need to Know

    Apple’s Big Event: What You Need to Know

    apple-event-2

    The new iPhone 7 was finally unveiled this morning in San Francisco and as expected, it is the confirmation that the device won’t include an audio jack that is attracting the most attention. There was plenty of other interesting announcements though so let’s give have a quick rundown of the main points of interest.

    • No headphone jack but Lightning earphones included in the box.
    • A new Bluetooth style system for wireless connectivity, used with new wireless AirPods.
    • The iPhone 7 is water-resistant.
    • Much improved camera performance with dual rear-facing cameras included on iPhone 7 Plus that allow for optical zooming.
    • New A10 Fusion processor has separate high-performance cores and high-efficiency cores for improved battery life.
    • Apple focusing more on home automation and HomeKit, now integrated into iOS 10.
    • New Super Mario game for iPhone and Pokemon Go for Apple Watch – Nintendo’s shares jumped 25%.
    • Apple Watch Series 2 with full water-resistance and GPS.

    Lightning Audio

    bye bye headphone jack

    While the lack of a headphone jack wasn’t a surprise to anyone, the announcement that Apple will include Lightning EarPods as standard in the box wasn’t so widely predicted. As expected, a Lightning to 3.5mm adapter will also come packaged with the phone. These inclusions are likely aimed at placating users angry about the new iPhone 7 not fully supporting their existing headphones. We’ll see in the coming weeks and months whether opposition fades away or if pressure mounts on Apple, but our feeling is that users will adapt quickly and that it won’t affect sales.

    Apple going big on home automation

    apple homekit

    At eeco, we’re super excited about the potential of smart home technology and follow the field closely, so Apple’s latest announcement on the subject caught our eye in particular. The new Home app is intended to simplify the process and provide a much more integrated experience for iPhone users. Apple are clearly betting the smart home technology really takes off, and Apple are rarely wrong when it comes to tech trends.

    A new type of wireless connectivity

    apple airpods

    There was speculation that Apple might include Bluetooth headphones in the box but instead they have developed their own entirely new standard that makes use of the new W1 chip. The promise is that Apple’s wireless connection system is far superior to Bluetooth, without the need to pair devices and greatly improved connection quality. At $159 though the AirPods are a bit pricey and some people are worried about how easy they would be to lose.

    Dual Camera

    iphone 7 dual camera

    Of the 10 points Phil Schiller went through, the longest time was spent on the section explaining improvements to the camera. This is the primary distinction between the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus models, with the Plus coming with an extra 12MP camera (in addition to the other rear-facing 12MP camera and the 7MP front-facing one). The extra camera is a telephoto lens that can be deployed to achieve 2x zoom without losing any detail and with software zoom up to 10x is now possible.

    two versions of iphone 7

    Apple were also keen to point out stylistic effects usually only possible on a high-end DLSR are achievable with the iPhone 7 plus using and mix of the two cameras and clever software. With all these improvements only available on the more expensive plus model, this is probably the largest the gulf has been between the functionality of Apple’s two flagship models.

    How do you feel about Apple’s decision to leave out the headphone jack? In this follow-up article here, we argue that it’s a good thing, both for Apple and for consumers.

    九月 7, 2016 By eeco Blog Technology explained
  • Apple’s 30-pin Cable: Why It’s Still Around

    Apple’s 30-pin Cable: Why It’s Still Around

    Blog-Header-30-pin

    Apple’s unglamorously named “30-pin connector” has been around for a long time now and was officially replaced by the Lightning connector in time for the iPhone 5 back in 2012. In an industry known for its love of the new and the miniature, the 30-pin connector now seems a bit outdated. Yet they still sell very well and with upwards of 100 million compatible devices estimated to still be in circulation the trusty old docking connector is going to be around for a while yet. Let’s explore the life and times of this chunky classic and reveal the secret of its longevity.

    The introduction of 30-pin: A stunning success for Apple

    First of all, a little bit of Apple history. A humble connector may not seem like much but the introduction of 30-pin in 2003 helped set Apple on the path to market dominance. The first and second generation iPod had only Firewire connectors, Apple’s rival to USB. The trouble was that the vast majority of PCs only supported USB, and the early 2000s was the height of Windows domination. In other words, the iPod was limited mainly to iMac users at a time when nearly everybody had a PC. When the 3rd generation iPod was launched in 2003 it made use of the brand new 30-pin connector, which among its many pins now included USB support, a critical addition. This opened up the iPod to PC users, well over 90% of the market at the time, allowing the iPod and iTunes to dominate for years to come. 30-pin continued to support Firewire though, and this desire to suit everyone explains partly why the connector is so large.

    30-pin-timeline-

    Why so many pins?

    Of the eponymous 30 pins, 8 are related to the now defunct Firewire and just 3 for USB (as is standard for USB, plus a ground pin). Almost half of all the pins are specifically for use with an iPod, including 9 reserved for audio and video and a couple of pins for locking into the iPod’s motherboard. The analog video pins in particular were almost never used, only a few specific iPod models could do anything with them. The special iPod connector pins were a bit more useful and were occasionally used by third-parties, for example some car manufacturers had buttons on the steering wheel that could operate a docked iPod. The majority of iPhone or iPad users today though will mostly only make use of the USB pins with the others largely redundant. This partly explains why Apple eventually decided to drop the 30-pin connector. It was unnecessarily large at a time when they were trying to slim down all their offerings and for image conscious Apple this was reason enough to ditch it for new models.

    Not bad for an oldie

    In truth though, the Lightning connector doesn’t have all that many advantages over its predecessor. In most situations transfer and charging speeds are identical as both use the USB 2.0 standard, and Lightning doesn’t bring any significant extra functionality. When it was first released Apple promoted Lightning mainly on the basis of its smaller size and reversible connector head rather than on any large improvements in performance.

    30-pin also has advantages over the ubiquitous micro-USB standard that dominates today. Firstly, micro-USB connectors are notoriously fiddly to connect, requiring both hands and your full attention. Connecting the 30-pin head is much more straightforward; it can be done with a single hand and gives you a satisfying click. The fact that it mechanically docks with the device is also a big plus point; there’s no chance of the cable not connecting properly or being pulled out during charging or data transfer. Finally, 30-pin also supports slightly faster charging than standard micro-USB, a maximum of 10W for 30-pin versus only 9W for micro-USB.

    pincompare (1)

    Why it’s still around

    The 30-pin cable may be a little bit bloated with all those unused pins, but it played a significant role in Apple’s success and is quite practical as far as old connector heads go. Critically though, it was Apple’s sole connector throughout it’s most successful period, a period when they sold well over half a billion devices. When you factor in all the third-party accessories that were made for 30-pin, you get a standard so popular and widespread that it could never just disappear in a few years. One thing we can be sure, the 30-pin connector will be around for quite a few more years yet.

    If you have any interesting stories or memories regarding a 30-pin device make sure to take part in our “throwback to thirty-pin” campaign on Facebook. Aside from celebrating Apple’s iconic connector there are also plenty of prizes to be won!

    八月 31, 2016 By eeco Blog Technology explained
  • Why Your Smartphone Battery Isn’t Good Enough

    Why Your Smartphone Battery Isn’t Good Enough

    Blog-Header-2 eeco logo 2

    The massive growth in power bank sales over the last few years can tell us one simple fact: mobile phone batteries aren’t good enough. Even with general use regular charging is a must. Watch a few videos or play a game for a while and you’ll be out of juice in no time (Pokémon Go players know this all too well). Why is it that despite so much technological advancement batteries still aren’t up to the job?

    Battery-new-01- Battery-new-02-

    In the top chart we can see battery capacities of selected mobile phones and the year they were first released. Compare this steady increase to the spectacular growth in processing power below and the contrast is clear. Moore’s Law (the doubling of processing power every 18 months) is what keeps the tech industry booming, and batteries aren’t keeping up.

    Incremental Improvement

    If we compare the iPhone 6S to the original iPhone it’s clear that mobile technology has come a long way over the last 9 years. The 2G of RAM in the 6S is 16 times what the original iPhone had, and in terms of processing power the 6S is estimated to be around 50 times more powerful. However, the battery in the iPhone 6s is only rated at 1715 mAh, compared to 1400 mAh for the first iPhone, a measly improvement of just 23%. For a more extreme comparison, the iPhone 6s is almost immeasurably more powerful than the classic Nokia 3210 from 1999, but its battery is only 37% larger. This is not particularly stellar development considering that 17 years is an eternity in mobile tech.

    That powerful smartphones with large high-definition screens can work at all using such mediocre batteries is an impressive feat in itself. Since improving battery capacities has proven to be so difficult, the only option has been to improve energy efficiency. Modern chips are much more energy efficient than those 10 years ago, and software developers have got better at producing apps that are less memory hogging. Despite all this, battery life is still a major issue and getting through a single day without charging is a stretch for many users.

    Breakthrough Still Elusive

    The trouble mainly stems from the fact that battery technology hasn’t had a major breakthrough for decades. The first lithium-ion battery went on sale in 1991 and it is still largely this same technology that powers our smartphones today. The lead-acid mobile phone batteries of the 80s were truly horrible and the step forward to nickel-cadmium was massive. The further step forward to lightweight, compact and clean lithium batteries was equally huge. Yet that was decades ago now and we’re still waiting for the next big step.

    Li_ion_laptop_battery

    That’s not to say that there haven’t been breakthroughs promised. Barely a month goes by without a cycle of articles excitedly declaring the next big thing is just around the corner. Journalists have got excited about solid state, nanowire, aluminium-air, aluminium-graphite and algae batteries, among others, but each of these has so far failed to live up to the hype. Elon Musk of Tesla has instead invested billions in his new “Gigafactory” in Nevada which will produce tried and tested lithium batteries on a massive scale, showing that he feels the old technology isn’t going anywhere soon.

    Keep That Power Bank Handy

    Battery performance is holding back progress across dozens of industries, from mobile tech, to renewable energy, to electric cars, but it seems a battery revolution is still as far away as ever. For the ordinary consumer concerned about mobile battery life, it seems the only solution for now is to invest in a good power bank…

    八月 26, 2016 By eeco Blog Technology explained
  • 10 Ways to Make Your Cables Last Longer

    10 Ways to Make Your Cables Last Longer

    blog-header-image-4

    Cables are one of modern life’s true essentials. Everybody owns them and everybody needs them. Having a cable stop working at an inopportune moment can lead to all manner of inconvenience, and having to constantly replace cables is irritating and potentially expensive. So what can we do to make sure our cables live the fullest life they can?

    Why do my cables break?

    First of all, let’s clear up a few of the basics. What is it that actually causes a cable to stop working? Contrary to popular belief, cables actually don’t tend to “wear out” internally simply through charging or being plugged in. Corrosion in the wiring will eventually become an issue, but a decent quality cable that is never moved can theoretically last decades. The most common reason for a cable to stop working is damage to the wiring caused by bending and other external stresses. So with this in mind, let’s move on to the advice!

    1. Avoid sharp bends at the joints

    DSC_0152

    The joint is the weakest part of the cable and if it spends the whole day forced into a 90 degree bend the wiring is unlikely to last long. Stretching the PVC jacket through this kind of bending can also cause it to split or become detached from from the connector casing, exposing bare wire. Often just a little bit of thought and care can avoid contortions like this take a lot of the strain off your cable.

    2. Don’t throw your cable loose into a bag

    DSC_0147

    Throwing a cable into an empty bag actually might not be too terrible, but a cable thrown loose into a crammed rucksack or squeezed into a overfilled suitcase will suffer a year’s worth of wear and tear in one journey. It will get bent, crushed and squeezed a hundred times over, all the types of stress cables hate. Best to wrap it up in the method described below.

    3. Don’t wrap your cable tightly around an object

    DSC_0142-Edit (1)

    A lot of people will wrap their cables around the object closest to hand, for example a power bank, but this is not the best way to wrap a cable. Wrapping a cable tightly around a bulky or sharp-edged object will create kinks in the cable which may take a long time to get out. These kinks are particularly damaging to the internal wiring and are guaranteed to reduce the lifetime of the cable. The ideal way of wrapping a cable is a technique called coil wrapping (seen below), where you loop the cable around several times to create a circular shape. This avoids kinks and bends while still allowing for convenient storage and transportation.

    4. Use a velcro tie or cable clip

    DSC_0135 (1)

    DSC_0138-Edit (1)

    All eeco cables come to you bound by a snazzy velcro cable-wrap. This isn’t just packaging, you can use this to help protect your newly purchased cable. Aside from using the velcro to help wrap your cables when traveling (holding your nicely coil-wrapped cable in place), you can also use it to hold an extra loop at the connector that prevents damage in the event of a sharp tug. A similar effect can also be created by using a cable clip.

    5. Protect them from pets

    Critter Cord

    If you own a pet you’ll know that some furry friends just can’t resist a good chew. Rabbits in particular will make short work of even the strongest cables. Where a problem exists a solution will never be far, and a quick search on Amazon reveals that there are sellers specializing in products designed to keep gnawing teeth away from your beloved cables. Strengthening cables is certainly an option, but the most popular solution is to apply a scent coated cover that makes your cable not seem like quite such a tasty treat.

    6. Be careful when using your phone as it charges

    DSC_0161

    Despite a few urban myths to the contrary, using your device while it charges doesn’t damage the battery, but your cable may not be so lucky. If you like to keep your phone charging while using it in bed or kicking back on the sofa chances are you are fully extending the cable and giving it all the bending and twisting it hates. If you are right beside the charging point or have a long enough cable there isn’t much of an issue, but for many people staying comfortable while charging your phone will put your cable through a lot of discomfort.

    7. Use a magnetic snap-on cable adapter

    11337077_368480940007568_7174065736223465271_o

    A solution to the issue above is to use one of the new magnetic adapters that have appeared on the market recently. Apple’s MagSafe was an early example, and recently Znaps has received a lot of attention. Such systems allow fast and easy connecting and disconnecting of cables through the use of a magnetic adapter that plugs into the charging port of your device. This means you can connect and disconnect your phone with one hand even in the dark, reducing the temptation to stretch the cable and use it while it is still plugged in. It also means that a violent tug, for example when you trip over the cable, will merely result in disconnection rather than damage to the cable or your device being thrown across the room (not to mention preventing you falling flat on your face).

    8. Buy longer cables

    DSC_0134-Edit (1)

    This is probably the simplest way to avoid stretching and straining your cable. Longer cables are often a little more expensive but they are value for money. People always underestimate the length of cable that is practical, and short cables lead to inconvenient charging and regular strain. It doesn’t help that the cable that comes packaged with most phones tends to be as short as possible to save costs. The tiny 30cm (1ft) charging cables that some manufacturers provide are almost guaranteed to be stretched to an early grave as they will constantly be pulled to their full length and more. 1.8m (6ft) cables may sound overly long at first, but in most household situations the full length will be put to use on a regular basis. Longer cables are more convenient and last longer, surely worth investing the extra few pennies.

    9. Add tape

    DSC_0145-Edit (1)

    Electrical tape may not be particularly attractive, but adding it to your cables is a great way of extending their lifetime. Adding plenty at the connector joints will strengthen the weakest part of the cable and reduce damaging bending. And of course, any part of the cable that has become frayed or where the wire is visible should have tape added straight away if you want it to last.

    10. Don’t buy cheap cables

    DSC_0143-Edit (1)

    A bit of an obvious one but always a sound piece of advice. There are several reasons why cheap cables break quickly. Firstly, the cable jacket will usually be thin and of low quality, meaning the wiring is poorly protected from stress and it won’t take much wear before you’re through to bare wire. Cheap PVC jackets are also prone to melting, even just through exposure to sunlight. The wiring itself will also have been produced with little care or precision and won’t be able to withstand much stress before breaking. Finally, many cheap cables aren’t properly compliant with the relevant specifications and don’t have correct resistors. This can lead to the cable drawing more power than it was designed for, which can burn out the wiring and in some cases even damage your hardware. Best to stick to certified cables from trusted brands.

    八月 24, 2016 By eeco Blog Future Living Technology explained
Popular Posts
What’s Coming Up
What’s Coming Up
The Switch to C
The Switch to C
Smart Home and Smart Products Explained
Smart Home and Smart Products Explained
Why Put Kevlar In Cables
Why Put Kevlar In Cables
Survival of the Fittest: Only USB-C Will Reign
Survival of the Fittest: Only USB-C Will Reign