Everyday Tech

How do batteries work? How much energy is your plugged-in gadget using? How do UPC codes work? Find this out and more with Everyday Tech.

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Your appliances use electricity all day, whether you're there or not. Some manufacturers are helping consumers out by making their electronics more efficient.

By Dave Roos

Ever wonder how flat cell phone keys vibrate to let you know you've pressed a button? It's called haptics, and you can use it for lots more than just phones.

By William Harris & Zach Taras

Has your storage closet turned into a gadget graveyard, where your old electronics go to die? Most people are forgoing the cell-phone cemetery and discarding their devices as e-waste.

By Jessika Toothman


Forget the wooden stake -- the only thing that stops this vampire is unplugging your electronics. Vampire power sucks energy at a rate that would make anyone scream in horror.

By Robert Lamb

A typical home probably has five to 10 transformers plugged into the wall at any given time. It turns out that these transformers consume power whenever they are plugged in, whether they are connected to a device or not.

You need a new computer, but you don't have enough cash to buy the latest model. You're perusing the classifieds looking for a used one, when you come across an ad for a refurbished laptop. What does that mean?

By Chris Pollette

How about, instead of your standard AA, we used flexible, incredibly thin batteries that could be powered by blood or sweat? Seems like an improvement, right?

By Jacob Silverman


Unless you're particularly organized and good with those little twist ties, you probably have a few dusty power cord tangles around your home. But wireless power transmission could soon cut the clutter and lead to clean sources of electricity.

By Tracy V. Wilson

If you're lucky enough to unwrap a sweet new iPhone or Kindle Fire this year, what are you going to do with that relic you've been using up to now?

By Julia Layton

Lithium-ion batteries are incredibly popular these days. You can find them in laptops, PDAs, cell phones and iPods. Find out why.

By Marshall Brain

You've probably used a restaurant pager, but have you taken one apart? We have -- see how it works.

By Jeff Tyson


Location tracking is one of those double-edged swords of technology. It can help find people in an emergency, but it can also make your whereabouts known to strangers. Where are these systems starting to appear?

By Kevin Bonsor

The little disposable battery testers you see on batteries or battery packages are a great example of combined technologies -- several existing technologies have been combined in a completely new way!

The "self-recharging" feature of a battery is most noticeable in a car battery. In some cases, you can crank the engine until the battery seems totally dead, then come back an hour later and crank it again.

Ever wonder why some appliance plugs have three prongs and others have only two? What does that third prong do? And what would happen if you plugged a three-pronger into a two-prong outlet with an adapter?


Have you ever noticed the CE certification logo stamped on consumer products and electronics? Find out what this logo says about the product you're buying.

A large number of electronic devices carry "UL" marks. You can find them on everything from Christmas lights to digital camcorders. What does this logo mean?

Batteries power all sorts of things — they're in our cars, our PCs, our cameras, our cell phones. How do these tiny cans of chemicals provide power for so many of our daily conveniences?

By Marshall Brain, Charles W. Bryant, Clint Pumphrey & Yara Simón