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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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not a perfect solution
By Techywarrior on 7/24/2012 1:23:57 PM , Rating: 2
While I applaud the idea of having standard connectors to charge/power devices I don't think USB is the solution for laptops.

The USB connector is larger then most of the power connectors on modern laptops. Why would we want to take up more precious space on laptops as we strive to make them thinner and lighter? I have a new Samsung Series 9 900C and the post connector is tiny. The USB connector would be easily 5 times the size (width wise) of the post connector.

Now, I'm not saying post connectors are the perfect solution either, but if we standardize on a large connector then we lose all inovation on the connector interface for new laptops while compromising on a very old design (although USB3 is new USB is old and the size of the connector hasn't changed since the original spec)

Look at what Apple did with the Magesafe connector. I wish Apple would license that because I like the idea of the connector detaching when tugged too hard. This would never have been created if we had a standard connector.

From what I understand from reading the PDF the cables would have to be certified to carry the increased current and you would still have a separate port on the laptop to plug into. This can also lead to confusion by less computer savy people if they try and plug their power into an existing USB port. They aren't designed to carry 100 watts on them.

I would propose that maybe a new standard is designed for current laptops in perhaps a normal and micro size. This would allow cheaper, larger laptops to use the standard size which presumably would be cheaper and then ultrabooks and perhaps future thin/light laptops would use the micro size. The connector ideally would have some sort of auto detach like Magsafe without infringing the copyright (but that requirement is more a wish)

RE: not a perfect solution
By SlyNine on 7/24/2012 3:00:33 PM , Rating: 2
Since when is the general idea of attaching things with magnets patentable. This is why I hate apple.

RE: not a perfect solution
By The Raven on 7/24/2012 6:30:10 PM , Rating: 2

Yeah magsafe is nice.
There have been other solutions where the cable pops apart (the old Xbox controller cables were like that). They could just use that. But then again, maybe MS patented that? lol

We no longer have options to use common sense solutions?

RE: not a perfect solution
By DanNeely on 7/24/2012 11:34:37 PM , Rating: 2
It's not just that. Attaching the power cord with magnets has been common among commercial deep friers for decades because you need to minimize the risk of spilling gallons of hot oil in every way possible.

RE: not a perfect solution
By quiksilvr on 7/25/2012 10:57:11 AM , Rating: 2
I highly doubt they'll ever make a laptop thinner than a USB port. I don't care how thin or light it is. If it doesn't have room for a standard USB port, that laptop is useless.

RE: not a perfect solution
By quiksilvr on 7/25/2012 10:57:50 AM , Rating: 2
Also, if a laptop is so light and low powered, I'm pretty sure they can make a mirco-USB port that gives similar power.

"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson

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