There's one thing missing from all those ads depicting youthful business folk leaving their desks to enter the world of wireless communication: the moment when their battery dies.
Face it, the promise of wireless technology extends only to communication, not power, leaving us scurrying for plugs when that dreaded low battery icon starts flashing.
Slightly reassuring is the fact that truly wireless devices have been in the works for some time now.
If you want old school, check out the Sidewinder ( www.smarthome.com/9616.html ). After a good two-minute crank, the generator inside converts mechanical energy into electricity that powers the phone for six minutes of talking or 30 minutes on standby. The only down side is that, like that bike light clipped onto your front wheel as a kid, it isn't the sleekest design.
The closest thing to a completely self-sustaining alternative energy option that won't leave your forearms sore comes from solar power.
Power Booster, created by Sun Power ( www.snpower.com ), is a solar-powered battery that sells for around $60 and clips onto pretty much every make of cellphone available in North America.
Konarka ( www.konarkatech.com ) manufactures a thin solar panel that unrolls like a place mat to power up cellphones, iPods or laptops, using either indoor or outdoor light.
Freeplay ( www.freeplayenergy.com ) is a company in the vanguard of truly wireless technology. It has focused on manufacturing working radios and cellphones for developing countries, where reliable electricity or a steady supplies of batteries are hard to come by. Their most popular product, the solar-powered Lifeline Radio, was originally conceived as a hub for communities to disseminate information, education and current news from village to village.
If a bulky solar panel isn't your thing, how about the nanotechnology version? Researchers at the University of Toronto have invented solar cells so tiny that they can be sprayed onto any surface, including fabric. These cells can be used even when it's cloudy, because they convert the sun's infrared energy into electricity instead of using just visible light. A sweater sprayed with the stuff could run a cellphone or an iPod, leaving the user battery-free.
Laptops, notorious for their short battery lives, are also experimenting with new power sources. About a month ago, IBM and Sanyo Electronics unveiled a prototype battery based on fuel cell technology, electricity generated from the combination of hydrogen and oxygen. The new prototype isn't very portable, though, increasing the thickness of IBM's ThinkPad by about half, and it still needs to be recharged. But there is increasing pressure on these companies to push the technology until it is entirely self-sufficient.
The weirdest recent innovation is definitely the wind-powered cell-phone developed by students at the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi. It's a pocket-sized turbine that generates 3 to 4 watts of electricity, sufficient to charge a phone.
So instead of remaining shackled to your power outlet, drawing on the electricity flowing from power plants across the province, consider severing all ties to the wired world. Me, I'd better send this article off before my laptop goes dead.