news universal notebook charging spec coming early next year
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Universal notebook charging spec coming early next year

Wouldn’t it be nice if all notebooks conformed to a single charger standard? That’s the goal of the International Electrotechnical Commission, which has developed a common standard for notebook chargers. The charger specification will be published early next year, and it might have a shot at taking hold. In 2011, the same group released a universal charger standard for mobile phones. That spec is based on Micro USB and "has been widely adopted by the mobile phone industry," according to the IEC. That’s the mobile phone industry outside of Apple, of course.

The press release announcing the notebook charger spec is bereft of technical details, so it’s hard to know what to expect. If the standard is to work with future systems, the plug will have to be slim enough to account for notebooks with increasingly thin profiles. I wonder if there’s any MagSafe-style voodoo involved.

Interestingly, the IEC notes that some groups are working toward a universal charger that would cover multiple classes of devices. Being able to charge a smartphone and notebook with the same adapter would certainly be convenient. However, the IEC claims "technical realities" stand in the way of multi-device charging, which "is likely still a long way from being achievable." The notebook charging spec is meant to provide a solution that’s ready for adoption.

I’m a little surprised the press release spends much of its time talking about how a universal charger could reduce electronic waste. You’d think convenience would be a more compelling argument. Either way, I hope we get some sort of universal standard. I can see four notebooks and convertibles from where I’m sitting right now, and each one of them has a different power adapter. Ugh.

0 responses to “Universal notebook charging spec coming early next year

  1. No. It’s because their 1997 settlement included a patent cross-licensing provision, so Microsoft can do it legally.

    If that weren’t so, Apple would sue the pants of MS. That’s why Dell and HP don’t have magnetic connectors even though they’re “big fish”.

  2. Convenience appeals to consumers, electronic waste appeals to industry juggernauts. Different marketing for different folks.

  3. [quote<] I can see four notebooks and convertibles from where I'm sitting right now, and each one of them has a different power adapter. Ugh.[/quote<] This is why all the laptops in our house are thinkpads. Have 4 adapters (2 slim, 2 regular) that are compatible with both the wife's and my thinkpad. Leave the AC chargers plugged in at convenient locations (the slims are smart-switch, so don't pull power if circuit is not closed*), one of them permanently plugged into the docking station. * Rant: Why can't we have power switches at every outlet like the UK or Australia? I hate having to unplug peripherals when a switch would do the job.

  4. [quote<]Apple holds a patent on magnetic computer cords[/quote<] Doesn't Surface RT/Pro have magnetic power connectors? Did MS license (or cross-license) it from Apple, or did they find a loophole?

  5. If Magsafe was designed to stop laptops from being pulled off tables when you trip over a cord, it sure as hell wasn’t designed to not disintegrate and fray.

    It’s hard to think of an iPhone/iPod/MacBook cable lying around the hundreds of desks in the offich which isn’t frayed and broken. You don’t see that with cheap black USB cables or Dell adapters….

  6. I can’t remember if ultrabooks and net tops were legally considered the same as notebooks. Will this universal charging plug standard be amended to include all electronic portable devices, so as not to leave out any exemptions among different manufacturers in similar markets?

  7. The mobile phone standard was because of an EU [url=http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-11-75_en.htm<]regulation[/url<] (best a quick google search could fine) Possibly the biggest factor that pushed it through the EU was reduction of waste. I'm also all for this. Even if the end result is a standard laptop charger with a couple of usb ports you can use to charge your mobile devices.

  8. E-waste is a legit ‘green’ concern so it doesn’t surprise me it’s talked about…plus it makes for good marketing.

  9. By grabbing enough patents and lawyers to threaten Apple. The big fish don’t eat eachother.

  10. Dell at least has had a standard plug across the majority of their laptops for a decade or so. As long as the wattage matches, it’ll work. I’ve been handing out old D-series chargers for people to keep at home for their E-series machines, and I’m nowhere close to running out yet.

  11. [quote<]I'm a little surprised the press release spends much of its time talking about how a universal charger could reduce electronic waste. [/quote<] Because that's how you get funding. I'm surprised they didn't mention how it'd reduce greenhouse gas emissions... /snark.

  12. Yeah, for sure, but I don’t want to buy all new printers, so I guess I’m stuck for a while anyway.

  13. Apple holds a patent on magnetic computer cords, and won’t license the tech to other computer companies. Of course, deep fryers and other counter top appliances had identical connectors years before Apple got its Magsafe patent, but we all know the patent office gets stupid when you say “for computers”.

  14. But how are people like HP and Dell going to charge outrageous prices for replacement charger cables?