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Print 49 comment(s) - last by scrapsma54.. on Jul 27 at 1:39 PM

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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This would be awesome!
By retrospooty on 7/24/2012 1:17:07 PM , Rating: 5
Every laptop using the same charger... Except of course Apple, because they just cant do anything in a standard compatible way that helps consumers.

It's really irritating about their new smaller connecter for iPhone's. I could understand the use of the old one and not wanting to change due to the multitude of existing devices, but now that they did change it, why the f%^k not go with micro USB? ugh...




RE: This would be awesome!
By KPOM1 on 7/24/12, Rating: -1
RE: This would be awesome!
By retrospooty on 7/24/2012 2:15:59 PM , Rating: 5
"Let's see what Apple has in store for their new iPhone port before we criticize them for not going with Micro-USB."

Its not micro USB like every other ophone on Earth, therefore it draws criticism. USB 3 is irrelevant on a smartphone, we want standardized chargers and peripherals.


RE: This would be awesome!
By Solandri on 7/25/2012 3:01:05 AM , Rating: 2
It's actually EU law that all phones be chargeable with a microUSB connector. They passed the law after the phone manufacturers failed to come up with a universal charger standard on their own, and continued to rake in money selling new chargers with every phone.

Thus far, Apple is the only phone manufacturer which hasn't complied. They will give their customers a dongle which lets them plug a microUSB charger into their iPhone if they ask.

Apple's reason for it is that their connector has all sorts of other capabilities, like digital video out. But the easy solution to that is to make two connectors - one microUSB for charging, another proprietary one for all the fancy stuff Apple wants on the iPhone. So the real reason Apple isn't complying is that they don't want to put two connector ports on the iPhone.


RE: This would be awesome!
By Lerianis on 7/24/2012 7:02:58 PM , Rating: 3
Huh? What are you talking about? I have some Micro-USB hard drives and they work with USB 3.0 ports.


RE: This would be awesome!
By mathew7 on 7/26/2012 3:46:47 AM , Rating: 2
The only limitation is for USB3 cable on a USB2 device (not host). And this is due to the bigger (or should I say additional) USB3 connector. Once they are connected, there is nothing from stopping it work.


RE: This would be awesome!
By TakinYourPoints on 7/24/12, Rating: -1
RE: This would be awesome!
By tdktank59 on 7/24/12, Rating: 0
RE: This would be awesome!
By Camikazi on 7/24/2012 6:52:49 PM , Rating: 3
Wee, 2 6 year old laptops running right now with perfect charging ports, man you must be clumsy.


RE: This would be awesome!
By TakinYourPoints on 7/24/2012 10:18:24 PM , Rating: 1
It is one of many solid decisions they made with the MBPs. Why are other laptop power connectors such trash?


RE: This would be awesome!
By Solandri on 7/25/2012 2:53:16 AM , Rating: 3
Because Apple got a patent on it which should be invalidated. Magnetic power cords were used in the 1990s on deep fryers, to prevent people from spilling hot oil over themselves if they tripped on the cord.
http://archives.cnn.com/2001/US/07/03/deep.fryers/

This far predates Apple's 2007 magsafe patent. But somehow the USPTO figured taking an existing idea and adding the words "on a laptop" to it was worthy of a patent.

Nobody is challenging Apple's patent because it's just not worth the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars for a multi-year patent fight. The non-magnetic designs are marginally weaker, but not really problematic. I've had a couple cords fray because of the 90 degree bend of some designs, and had one laptop where the entire power circuit board cracked from repeatedly bending small amounts. (Fatigue failure - not sure a magnetic connection would've helped there. Ideally you want to design the solder joints to fail first, since that can be fixed by replacing a 50 cent part.)

I've tripped on power cords multiple times. Most of the time they pull out. Sometimes they send the laptop flying off the table. Did that a half dozen times with my old Thinkpad - probably an indication the connection was overdesigned and held the power cord too tightly. Fortunately, the Thinkpad was tough enough that it worked fine after each fall (including one forceful enough to dislodge the ejectable CD drive and PCMCIA card). I've never actually broken the power connector on any laptop I've owned.


RE: This would be awesome!
By Belard on 7/24/12, Rating: 0
RE: This would be awesome!
By Belard on 7/24/12, Rating: -1
RE: This would be awesome!
By Stevethewalrus on 7/25/2012 1:25:50 AM , Rating: 2
Thunderbird? And yes its a proprietary USB implantation. If you meant Thunderbolt then your an ... absolutely no benefit having it be thunderbolt, all it would do would raise costs.


RE: This would be awesome!
By Belard on 7/25/2012 5:54:39 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, I mean thunderbolt. (DOH!)

While the apple connector includes USB, its not an illegal device and its very much an Apple standard, its not rare.

Go to walmart or any general phone store and count up all the accessories for iOS products and compare them to the others. Guess what, apple has a standard that allowed accessories that cannot be said for anyone else. Samsung moves its USB connector depending on the phone.

And again, plugging in an apple connector smokes USB in terms of ease.

Apple helped develop Thunderbolt. The price for the new Thunderbolt macs didn't go up, neither did the monitors. Thunderbolt for PCs is quite expensive.

Now, I didn't say the new port on iPhone5 (and future iOS products) is thunderbolt. I said/meant it would have thuerbolt included. But it should include USB3.0 as well, or at least have USB3 if there is not Thunderbolt. USB3.0 would be easier to work with. We'll know in a few months.

But I'm betting TB & USB3.


RE: This would be awesome!
By lukarak on 7/25/2012 3:59:55 PM , Rating: 2
Apple actually made a great laptop charger. It's standard across their devices, and it has a great feature nobody else has. Not to mention that the powerbricks themselves are very adaptable, can hang from a wall socket, or be a standard middle of the cord.

And suddenly, Apple is the problem and doesn't benefit the consumers?

You guys are really disturbed.


RE: This would be awesome!
By scrapsma54 on 7/27/2012 1:39:45 PM , Rating: 2
Now all else is needed is a type of jack that resists breaking like a standard DC jack.


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