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Chargers would be replaced with a ubiquitous USB 3.0 solution, supporting up to 100 watts of draw

Today, other than Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) iPhone, smartphones have made the leap from proprietary connectors to a single ubiquitous standard -- micro-USB.  This is a huge relief for phone users, as it means whether you have a Windows Phone or an Android phone, it's easy to find replacement chargers.

But the situation in the world of laptops remains far worse.

Virtually every manufacturer has its own proprietary brand of A/C adaptors, most of which use some kind of post-style plug.  

But the USB 3.0 Promoter Group has published a new standard [PDF], which proposes using new USB 3.0 power cables as a ubiquitous replacement to proprietary adaptors.  Under the proposal, laptops could draw up to 100 watts off of bi-directional, backwards compatible USB 3.0 cables.  

The USB cable could be plugged into a "mains adaptor" -- an adaptor that converts household alternating current to a useable direct current supply fed into the USB.  Currently, such adaptors are commonly used to charge smartphones.  As the connector to the device -- a USB cable -- is common and the amount of power delivered predictably defined by the USB standard, the choice of current adaptor is inconsequential.

USB 3.0
[Image Source: Cleveland Leader]

This will make replacing power supplies much easier -- if it’s adopted.

The USB 3.0 Promoter Group is the group responsible for successfully developing and pushing the third-generation USB standard on the world.  Its members include Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), Hewlett-Packard Comp. (HPQ), Intel Corp. (INTC), Texas Instruments, Inc. (TXN), Renesas Electronics Corp. (TYO:6723), and ST-Ericsson -- a joint venture between NXP Semi. NV (NXPI) and STMicroelectronics N.V. (EPA:STM).

Still, even with past successes and a super-star ensemble of industry power players there's cause for skepticism, given the long history of fruitless efforts to move laptops away from proprietary adaptors, as commemorated in the well-known XKCD comic "Standards".  Let's hope this effort bears more fruit that those past failed bids.

Source: USB 3.0 Promoter Group [PDF]

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By StevoLincolnite on 7/24/2012 11:48:30 AM , Rating: 5
Please do!

Universal adapters are far from cheap. - But they also need to be able to charge the notebook from any USB plug on the notebook (And not just provide a dedicated USB port for power.) as the actual sockets aren't immune from breaking either.

RE: .
By MadMan007 on 7/24/2012 11:52:51 AM , Rating: 3
True, USB ports aren't immune to breaking, but in my experience the physical connectors are pretty good and they would be vastly better than the post-style connectors most laptops use.

Simple reason this won't be adapted though: OEMs love to sell their replacement overpriced laptop power bricks :(

RE: .
By DanNeely on 7/24/2012 1:03:19 PM , Rating: 3
Do you have any cites for USB being more durable than post style connectors? It would surprise me; most posts I've seen have lower insertion/removal resistance than a USB plug (in addition to being naturally immune to various types of rotational stress). As a result I'd expect that if you knocked a laptop off a table/etc and it was briefly suspended by the power cord the post connector would be more likely to pop free without breaking anything internally than the USB cable would.

RE: .
By SunLord on 7/24/2012 1:53:46 PM , Rating: 2
Post style plus are far more durable then USB ports. Micro-usb (10,000 cycles of insertion and removal) for instance reverse the mounting interface compared to normal usb (1,000 cycles of insertion and removal) by making it so the cheap cable wears out before the port

RE: .
By inperfectdarkness on 7/25/2012 2:05:44 AM , Rating: 2
So what do you do for voltage selection? Do you need a bunch of dials/sliders to select appropriate charge? Does it detect automatically--and if so, what happens if it incorrectly determines the voltage? Who is responsible then?

As much as I would love to have a "universal" charger for every electronic device I have, in order to make such a charger truly useful, all devices would have to adopt the same charging parameters. I just don't see that happening.

RE: .
By theapparition on 7/25/2012 12:14:06 PM , Rating: 2
Almost all laptops charge using very similar voltages. The biggest issue is the actual connectors being different.

However, if there was a universal charging standard, you can bet there would also be a input voltage associated with it as well.

For example, current USB standards use 5V on the connector. Is there any issue with any other devices not using 5V? Any compatibility problems? If it has the USB logo, then it is certified to work. You're worrying about something that would already be taken care of.

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