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Standard Cellphone Chargers For Europeans

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the those-lucky-bastards dept.

Cellphones 257

k33l0r writes "The European Commission is confident that all major cellphone companies have reached an agreement on a standard cellphone charger for consumers within the EU. 'People will not have to throw away their charger whenever they buy a new phone,' said EU Industry Commissioner Guenter Verheugen. Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, Apple, LG, NEC, Qualcomm, Research in Motion, Samsung and Texas Instruments have all signed the agreement."

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So what's it gonna be? (-1, Redundant)

Hannes2000 (1113397) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515257)

Will it be Mini-USB or some proprietary connector?

Re:So what's it gonna be? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28515281)

Linux just isn't ready for the mobile phone yet. It may be ready for the web servers that you nerds use to distribute your TRON fanzines and personal Dungeons and Dragons web-sights across the world wide web, but the average computer user isn't going to spend months learning how to use a CLI and then hours compiling packages so that they can get a workable graphic interface to call people and send SMS texts with, especially not when they already have a phone running Windows Mobile or Symbian that does its job perfectly well and are backed by major corporations, as opposed to Linux which is only supported by a few unemployed nerds living in their mother's basement somewhere. The last thing I want is a level 5 dwarf (haha) providing me my OS.

Re:So what's it gonna be? (5, Informative)

furby076 (1461805) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515309)

Maybe instead of just trying to get a first post in you read the damn article.

The Commission said the agreement would involve the creation of an EU norm, and that the new generation of mobile phones would use a standard micro-USB socket to ensure compatibility.

4th paragraph

Re:So what's it gonna be? (1, Funny)

Freetardo Jones (1574733) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515331)

read the damn article.

Hahaha. You must be new here.

Re:So what's it gonna be? (4, Funny)

furby076 (1461805) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515425)

Hahaha. You must be new here.

;) Just sometimes feel like an old man holding out for an ideal age where people read the article (or at least admit they didn't). Then again I still hold out for the day skittles will pop sunshine out of my ass.

Re:So what's it gonna be? (1)

Jeoh (1393645) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515325)

From TFA: "The Commission said the agreement would involve the creation of an EU norm, and that the new generation of mobile phones would use a standard micro-USB socket to ensure compatibility."
 
Seriously, do people even RTFA any more?

Re:So what's it gonna be? (1)

Freetardo Jones (1574733) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515365)

Seriously, do people even RTFA any more?

People have ever RTFA? Have you been reading a bizarro Slashdot all these years?

Re:So what's it gonna be? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28515795)

win.

Re:So what's it gonna be? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28515333)

microUSB

Re:So what's it gonna be? (0, Redundant)

Forge (2456) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515625)

RTFA It will be Mini-USB. However there are 2 issues still to clarify. 1. Will the phone be required to charge at the standard voltages delivered by a PC USB port? I would hate to see that BS achieved by Motorola, where you can only charge on a PC if the Motorola Charger is installed. I would prefer if everyone else has to change to match Blackberry. If my Blackberry runs low in the data center I can just plug into any exposed USB port on a powered up server. . A Dell waiting at the BIOS screen or a SUN in full production. 2. Will this be coordinated with the Chinese standard? If both the EU and China agree on a standard, India and Japan can be convinced to adopt it. Leaving America to figure out which direction it wants to go.

Re:So what's it gonna be? (1)

gatechman (1585777) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515913)

Yeah that mess really gets me mad. I've noticed though that the drivers in Ubuntu (at least in 8.10) allow me to charge my Motorola phone whenever I plug it into the USB port. Personally, I'd like to strangle the engineers who thought it was a good idea to require some sort of authentication to charge.

Re:So what's it gonna be? (1)

Forge (2456) | more than 5 years ago | (#28516193)

Ultimate responsibility lies with Motorola's CEO. The purpose is real simple. Do you want people buying a $5 generic charger or a $25 genuine charger?

If you want to be more clear. Both chargers cost around the same amount to make.

Re:So what's it gonna be? (4, Informative)

Forge (2456) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515701)

RTFA
It will be Mini-USB. However there are 2 issues still to clarify.

1. Will the phone be required to charge at the standard voltages delivered by a PC USB port? I would hate to see that BS achieved by Motorola, where you can only charge on a PC if the Motorola Charger is installed. I would prefer if everyone else has to change to match Blackberry. If my Blackberry runs low in the data center I can just plug into any exposed USB port on a powered up server. . A Dell waiting at the BIOS screen or a SUN in full production.

2. Will this be coordinated with the Chinese standard? If both the EU and China agree on a standard, India and Japan can be convinced to adopt it. Leaving America to figure out which direction it wants to go.

How about the damn US? (3, Insightful)

furby076 (1461805) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515263)

Well this may carry over as a convenience to the US but I doubt it.(why have two plants making two different types of chargers when you can have one plant making one charger type). That why is Verizon & AT&T. They love locking people in, and since there are so many service carriers they do so with products (iPhone for one).

Hopefully this will spread - but I doubt it.

Re:How about the damn US? (4, Interesting)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515469)

It's not too much of a lock-in. I can't imagine someone saying, "Man, I'd love to change carriers, but I just don't want to have to use a new charger (which comes with the free phone I'll get). I guess I'll stick with my current carrier!"

I think it's more an issue of the carriers not caring, and the manufacturers using whatever charger is convenient and cheap for them at the time. Standardization is the sort of thing that benefits pretty much everyone over the long term, but can be a PITA for interested players at the time it's started up. So absent of some external impetus, it often just doesn't get started.

Re:How about the damn US? (4, Insightful)

furby076 (1461805) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515565)

It's not too much of a lock-in. I can't imagine someone saying, "Man, I'd love to change carriers, but I just don't want to have to use a new charger (which comes with the free phone I'll get). I guess I'll stick with my current carrier!"

My phone came with one charger. I keep a charger at my desk at home (so i can be on my computer and not worry about charging). But I like to have my phone by the bed in case someone calls me - so i dont have to run to the living room (plus it is a secondary alarm for me). So I need to be an additional charger. Then I need one for work (blue-tooth kills phones)...that's two chargers. Then I need one for the car (blue-tooth again, plus i travel a lot)... that's three chargers. Now I also like to connect the device to my computer to transfer files...4th accessory. I would prefer if i could just swap.

The carriers do care - a lot of the profit for the stores is accessories. They try and push this on you like candy. They buy the chargers for $2-$3 from the manufacturer and sell them for $15 to $25. That's a big profit margin. It's also why you can generally negotiate them. They get a ton of money for selling you phone/service. They are not willing to lose that money so they will give you the chargers.

Re:How about the damn US? (4, Interesting)

Forge (2456) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515941)

Where I live, it's the phone manufacturers that make money off chargers. I.e. A replacement charger for my Blackberry cost the equivalent of U$6 while one for a much cheaper Samsong cost U$15.

The phone company itself would much prefer if the phones could be virtually free and if they didn't even need chargers at all. (Disclosure: I work for a mobile provider.) The providers make money off call credits and phone bills. Some (including my employer) provide phone instruments at subsidized prices in hopes that people will get hooked on talking to everyone else.

Re:How about the damn US? (3, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 5 years ago | (#28516003)

"Then I need one for work (blue-tooth kills phones)."

Why not just use the landline they provide you at work at your desk?

Re:How about the damn US? (2, Interesting)

jabithew (1340853) | more than 5 years ago | (#28516321)

I suspect this is more to do with waste disposal. I don't know about fellow-geeks, but I have recently cleared my room and found about 15 obsolete chargers for various items I no longer own. All of that is going to have to be disposed of. This new agreement may be the first step towards preventing companies from boxing chargers, or forcing them to sell versions with and without charger.

Re:How about the damn US? (1)

Xtravar (725372) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515531)

What.
My AT&T phone charges fine with any mini-USB cable I find.

The weird thing is my GF has a similar model phone, but with Verizon, and hers won't charge through USB, but we can share the same wall outlet.

Re:How about the damn US? (3, Informative)

Laebshade (643478) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515567)

That's because Verizon locks their phones down big time. Since the phone detected a USB data connection, it refuses to charge.

Re:How about the damn US? (2, Interesting)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515727)

But with all these people running around with new iphones, there are a lot of secondhand Verizon phones available dirt cheap for people who don't care about silly phones.

I was forced to drop AT&T (so I have a used razr here) only because of poor reception. There is no reception for AT&T phones where I work; calls are dropped after seconds, and everyone with an iphone is always running outside as soon as their phone rings. This is in Cupertino CA within walking distance of Apple headquarters.

Re:How about the damn US? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28515949)

Funny, I lived in Cupertino for 2 years with full coverage everywhere I went, this could might as well be a structural issue interrupting whatever frequency AT&T happens to run on.

Re:How about the damn US? (1)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515799)

That's silly, and very wrong. Both my Motorola phones charged fine over USB (with the drivers installed, but Moto does that on all their phones), the only one I had was a VX9800 that wouldn't charge over the USB adapter. It's more likely that it just doesn't support it for whatever stupid reason, other than blaming Verizon.

Mini-USB Lockin, there are ways (4, Interesting)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515583)

My Motorola phone has a standard mini-usb connector but you STILL can't use it with standard charger. Why? "Un authorized charger".

From what I've pieced together it has a chip in it to fake that it is connected to a computer. This is a double edged sword of uselessness

1) I can't use my Garmin charger with my phone because it's "un authorized" and won't charge.
2) I can't use my Motorola charger with my Garmin because Garmin puts itself into PC mode (instead of navigation mode).

So now I have to carry 2 - 12V -> USB devices with me because of Motorola.

Trust me, keep an eye out for the buzz words "authentic" "valid" "safe" "genuine".

Re:Mini-USB Lockin, there are ways (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515849)

So now I have to carry 2 - 12V -> USB devices with me because of Motorola.

Rebel! Stand up and FIGHT your oppressors! Go and protest outside Motorola's HQ!

Re:Mini-USB Lockin, there are ways (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28516145)

What the fuck are you even reading this article for if that's your dumb-ass attitude? Go back to posting YouTube comments where you belong.

Part of the USB Spec (4, Informative)

pavon (30274) | more than 5 years ago | (#28516235)

This is part of the USB spec. Originally USB hosts were only required to provide a certain amount of current to devices. Later they decided to increase this, but to provide backwards compatibility the device has to ask if the host is capable of sourcing that much current before it starts drawing it.

*bicycle* chargers (1)

Dystopian Rebel (714995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28516189)

The manufacturers of mobile telephones need to take environmental responsibility. A standard connector for AC charging is a step in the right direction. This should make it easier to develop a standard mobile telephone charger for bicycles.

Good, I guess... (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515271)

My last two phones have been Nokias, and both of them have had the same charger, with an adaptor for using older Nokia chargers. My two phones before that were Sony-Ericsson and they also had compatible chargers. Do people really throw away their old chargers? If you're moving from one manufacturer to another, you can generally find someone switching in the opposite direction and swap with them. Or sell your old phone including the charger.

While I like the idea of compatible chargers, I suspect that this means that all of the existing chargers will suddenly become obsolete with the next generation of phones...

Re:Good, I guess... (2, Insightful)

furby076 (1461805) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515377)

Overall this is a positive step. Yes current gen phone chargers/accessories won't be involved but such is life for new technology standards - some things get left behind. But from next year and on we will be using a standardized interface which will mean you only have to buy the product once. Since they are all the same expect better pricing ($20 for a charger = rip off). One of the things that kept me from going to a new product type was having to re-buy all of my accessories...i would have to negotiate with the sales person "new phone and contract needs to come with new chargers for my car, home, and work plus computer adapter or no deal"

Re:Good, I guess... (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515665)

Why on earth would you pay $20 for a charger? They cost around £5 on high-street shops here - less if you shop around a bit - which is under $8 at the current exchange rate. Any Nokia charger from the last 10 years or so will charge any modern Nokia phone (although you may need the tiny adaptor that is bundled with new phones if your charger is over 5 years old), so this will result in throwing away a lot of chargers, unless new phones come with adaptors.

Re:Good, I guess... (2, Insightful)

furby076 (1461805) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515837)

Because the chargers you buy from the misc. vendors are typically cheaper in quality. They are not as tuned to the device and may send power surges which could damage your phone. They are also not as efficient and this turns out into more energy use. Not noticeable for one person, but take into consideration that millions of people use these devices and that adds up to wasted energy.

Think of your cell phone as your home computer (mine has important contact information, some pics, etc). Do you just plug your computer into the wall or do you use a surge protector (or even UPS device to prevent spikes/surges)? I use a nice UPS. I want my computer to not be damaged...I also don't want my phone to be damaged. I'd imagine someone who spent $500 on their iPhone GS want's to protect that investment too.

Re:Good, I guess... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28516063)

You buy expensive chargers to 'save on energy' but have no issues with buying them to leave in different rooms of your house?

Above and in this comment for those not following:

http://mobile.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1285749&cid=28515565 [slashdot.org]

Re:Good, I guess... (1)

AlecC (512609) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515983)

Not so, because of the change describe in the article. The Nokia 6500 has already switched to micro-USB. Not that it micro, not the mini that, for example, Motorola ue,

Re:Good, I guess... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28515765)

The other requirement is for the new chargers to be more power efficient. A lot of the current ones are really cheap, and because people leave them plugged in all the time, they're leaking power. 2 billion of these around the world means a non-insignificant amount of power just being wasted.

And yes, competition will mean that they're easy to get hold of for a decent price. Or you can get the Monster edition "Monster Unified Charger".

I hope that the scope of this is expanded to include digital cameras and media players.

Re:Good, I guess... (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515417)

While I like the idea of compatible chargers, I suspect that this means that all of the existing chargers will suddenly become obsolete with the next generation of phones...

Nah, your iPhone charger will still work.

With your iPhone and nothing else, of course. I take it that Apple isn't part of this little bandwagon.

Re:Good, I guess... (3, Informative)

furby076 (1461805) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515463)

I take it that Apple isn't part of this little bandwagon.

L2RTFA. They agreed to it.

Re:Good, I guess... (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515547)

From another article [cnn.com] , Apple will be moving to the new format.

While you may have read TFA, you didn't read the post you replied to, or don't realize the iPhone isn't made by Nokia, but rather another company that likes using a lower-case 'i' in front of all of their product names.

iWonder who that would be?

Re:Good, I guess... (2, Interesting)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515595)

Do people really throw away their old chargers?

I would suspect that if you're buying a new phone, old accessories tend to share the same fate as the phone. If you're throwing away the phone, you generally throw away the chargers, too. And why not? The new phone will come with a new charger. The only real exception I can see is if your new phone has the same charger and you want a second charger-- but then again, if you really need a second charger, you may have already bought a second charger for your old phone, still leaving you with an extra.

And so this is where the standardization comes into play: new phones won't be packaged with their own chargers. It will be an optional add-on, since the manufacturer can assume that you probably have an appropriate charger already. And even if you don't, it will be easy enough to find one. Because all phones will charge using the same port, compatible chargers will be sold everywhere.

FP! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28515273)

OMG FIRST

Micro (4, Informative)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515283)

The story is incorrectly tagged miniusb. It's actually micro USB (which is an inferior connector, in my opinion) which is slightly smaller and lacks the "ears" of mini USB, which is what the Blackberry uses.

-Peter

Re:Micro (1)

dfxm (1586027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515815)

MY BlackBerry (the Storm) uses the microUSB connector.

Micro is superior for this use... (4, Informative)

nweaver (113078) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515883)

MiniUSB is rated for 1000 connect/disconnect cycles

MicroUSB is rated for 10,000 connect/disconnect cycles, and is also thinner by about 1.5mm (critical on modern thin devices).

Given the power consumption on some smartphones, having the more durable connector is IMO, essential.

Re:Micro is superior for this use... (1)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 5 years ago | (#28516041)

That's very interesting (and persuasive). I had a media player that used Micro-USB and I didn't care for it at the time.

According to the Wikipedia article on USB the cycle life of Mini-USB (and USB A) is only 500, but they agree with your 10k figure for Micro-USB.

Anyway, I no longer have any Micro-USB devices, but I'll look for 'em in the future!

-Peter

Re:Micro (5, Informative)

AlecC (512609) | more than 5 years ago | (#28516025)

The micro-USB is superior to the mini-USB in that the springs which provide the retaining force are on the cable side and not on the phone side. If the spring breaks, you throw away the cable/charger, not the phone.

It MUST be MiniUSB (0)

EkriirkE (1075937) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515299)

Otherwise you would need 2 adapters to plug into the wall and the computer at the same time. It only makes sense to use 1 connector to handle both -- and that is probably so obvious that it won't be done.

Re:It MUST be MiniUSB (1)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515593)

Why would you need two adaptors? I have a microUSB cable lying around here and it can't be much of a problem to make one that plugs into the wall-socket.

Batteries too... (3, Insightful)

zebslash (1107957) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515305)

That would be nice to have a standard for Li-ion batteries too, from mobile phones to shavers and laptops. This way, it would be easier to recycle and replace batteries, lower costs and remove vendor-specific locks. I like alkaline batteries: around 4-5 different formats to power most of our stuff. With Li-ion, we have gained in power and time, but lost in flexibility. Is that so difficult to implement ?

Correction (3, Interesting)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515311)

You mean the manufacturers will be able to make the charger an accessory.

At additional cost^H^H^H^Hprofit.

Saving the planet, one quarter's financial results at a time. I'm feeling all warm and fuzzy again, especially around my wallet.

Re:Correction (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28515389)

I'm feeling all warm and fuzzy again, especially around my wallet.

Nope, that's just their hands down your pants.

Re:Correction (3, Informative)

oneirophrenos (1500619) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515525)

You mean the manufacturers will be able to make the charger an accessory.

Well, isn't that a good thing? What would be the logic of this agreement if the companies just continued supplying chargers with each phone?

Re:Correction (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 5 years ago | (#28516221)

It's a great thing. I can lay hands on at least 6 mini-USB chargters I've got laying around.

But will phone prices go down even $10 for those phones that ship without a charger?

And will we be able to tell?

?

Re:Correction (1)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515559)

So you buy the accessory once (for dirt cheap because every cable manufacturer will be making them) and you're set.

Hardly (1)

ArchieBunker (132337) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515561)

Apparently you've never seen a place called Ebay. You can get a wall and car charger together for under $10 including shipping.

Those EUROS! Lol (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28515345)

Those Euros think they are so smart making their chargers standard. Nonsense I'd say! Bell Tech Support told me once that they HAVE to make special chargers that I have to buy or replace for each phone. These of course were made with HIGH quality materials and so cost a heck of a lot more. So how are they going to charge their phones with a "standard" charger? Bell said they're the right ones on the TV on their pretty advertisement.

RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28515353)

It's Micro USB

Good! (3, Informative)

zebslash (1107957) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515369)

My girlfriend and me have both a Sony-Ericson phone, bought 3 years apart. Guess what ? Both chargers and connectors are proprietary, fragile, weird and different! Of course if you lose it you'll have to spend an arm to get a replacement.

However this will only work if vendors give the option NOT to get a new charger with a new phone. Otherwise, this will not be really useful.

Re:Good! (1)

Freultwah (739055) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515549)

I don't know about the cost of your limbs. I've had to replace at least 4 SE chargers and I never paid any more than 4 euros for the item.

Re:Good! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28515685)

Think your making stuff up, I have the charger from my T610 that will charge my K850i (it might not do the high speed usb access, but it will charge it)

Re:Good! (1)

nosferatu1001 (264446) | more than 5 years ago | (#28516245)

they changed charger a couple years back - similar looking but different pin outs.

Re:Good! (2, Informative)

rthomanek (889915) | more than 5 years ago | (#28516249)

My girlfriend and me have both a Sony-Ericson phone, bought 3 years apart. Guess what ? Both chargers and connectors are proprietary, fragile, weird and different! Of course if you lose it you'll have to spend an arm to get a replacement.

While I am more than happy to have the proprietary chargers replaced by a common standard, the statement above contains at least misinformation, if not ill will.

I've been using Ericsson phones since nearly 15 years now. For the better part of it, they had one standard of charging port. Some three years ago they decided to change it to a new standard. Yes, both were proprietary, but neither of them was weird nor fragile (they are not as trivial as a simple jack is but you quickly come to appreciate their actual solution when you notice it is just the right balance between stiffness/ stability of the connection and the protection from doing damage to either the port or the connector).

And no, they are not expensive to get. New chargers on Ebay cost some 3 EUR, if you are afraid they are not "genuine" you can go to a phone dealer and get one for twice as much (my estimate, given the cost of other accessories from SE).

Sure beats eating! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28515373)

I wish I could power up with a cell phone charger. Europeans are so lucky.

Standard Charges? (1)

ArhcAngel (247594) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515391)

Man, I knew that headline was too good to be true.

Thanks EU regulation (5, Insightful)

slb (72208) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515419)

A good exemple that sometimes the market is unable to find the most optimal solution and someone has to regulate.

Re:Thanks EU regulation (0)

inviolet (797804) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515683)

A good exemple that sometimes the market is unable to find the most optimal solution and someone has to regulate.

In the circumstance of a market unable to stabilize on an efficient solution, regulation may be jumping the gun, because it teaches consumers that they need not vote with their wallets... which means that eventually, all market inefficiencies will require regulation, with its attendant costs.

In any case, I think what really happened here is the total space of possible connector geometries and pinouts has finally been exhausted. MBAs have driven the engineers to invent ever different connectors, and this year they reached the point where every practical shape had been done and patented. So now they're signing up for standardization, professing their unwavering commitment to the welfare of their customers.

It reminds of the sudden change-of-heart that every pharma company has at the end of a patent, when they spontaneously decide that their medication is, after all, safe for OTC dispensation.

Re:Thanks EU regulation (1, Interesting)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515689)

The market at least in the EU had already pretty much standardised on USB charging.. every non-nokia phone I've had used it. Nokia of course had to be different, but there's only 2 nokia charging standards and adapters are readily available (and since ~70% of the phones you see around are Nokias, it's a sort of standard).

What this does is codify what was already happening.

Re:Thanks EU regulation (1)

Dionysus (12737) | more than 5 years ago | (#28516121)

New Nokia is using microUSB

Re:Thanks EU regulation (3, Insightful)

joebok (457904) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515695)

Actually, the market IS working in the environment that exists - that it, it is taking full advantage of the fact that the cell phone charging industry does not bear the external cost of disposing of perfectly good chargers every time we get a new device. We need the regulation to push that external cost to be part of the product - then market forces will adjust.

Rather than a universal charger designed by committee and consensus, I'd rather see regulation aimed directly at closing off the externality. Like maybe requiring cell phone companies to accept old charges back for a credit. Or not being allowed to package a charger along with the phone - make the consumer buy them separately. I think something along those lines would have the same effect, getting better, cheaper, and universal chargers with minimal overhead.

But either way, I sure hope it spills over to the US - and to other devices. If I have a device that needs 5v, seems like I should only need a transformer of the proper rating - not a random connector as well.

Re:Thanks EU regulation (4, Insightful)

teg (97890) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515703)

A good exemple that sometimes the market is unable to find the most optimal solution and someone has to regulate.

While I agree that some regulation is necessary - among other things to maintain healthy competition and free markets - they didn't actually regulate it. They hinted that they might, so the vendors found a solution themselves instead. A gentle, but firm, push in the right direction.

So... (3, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515439)

Any word on whether or not they'll be adding a cryptographic handshake that will lock the chargers down harder than connector swapping ever did?

They could even adopt a wireless commerce model: "The charger you have connected is not an official 'Motorola by Verizon' brand charger. Press 'OK' to activate the charger for a payment of $29.95 or purchase an official charger." With cellphone location services, you could even do location based selective lockouts! "I'm sorry, your charger is authorized for home use only. Please subscribe to our 'Home and Business' charger plan or, for travellers, 'National Omnicharge Premium' for just $19.95 a month."

Ah, evil.

Re:So... (2, Informative)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515825)

Believe me. The EU would sue them to hell for this. They will pull a Microsoft punishment on them.

Re:So... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515853)

I would certainly hope so; but having been burned already by Motorola's not-quite-so-standard mini-USB port(though that was some simple resistor based lockout, not a sophisticated crypto setup), I don't really trust the cell guys much.

Re:So... (1)

Splab (574204) | more than 5 years ago | (#28516291)

No they wont.

1. Making that would be stupidly pricey.
2. It would go against the point of making this, you look at it the wrong way around. If everyone has a standard charger, that means no one needs a new charger with each phone, which means phones drop in price, which means higher handset turnover.

This is good news for the telecoms since they get a new chance at signing a customer.

Everonmentalism I can agree with (4, Interesting)

alta (1263) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515461)

I'm no environ-nut. I don't bend over backwards to save the earth. But I do make a change when something 'makes sense.'

A prius? Value isn't there. High up-front costs, low performance. I think not.

E-85? Lower energy output than gasoline. Starving people that depend on Corn. Did you know that last year the Mexicans had a shortage of corn products. Do you know they use a LOT more corn than we (US-IANS) do .Glad we're past that.

On the other hand:
CFL - A time and a place. I leave our front porch lights on at night, and a few others for security. I put in CFLs to save a little money. They run all night and I don't need them instantly, so the warm up time doesn't bother me. I tried them in a closet... No way. I'm done in the closet before they warm up. They make all of my clothes look blue so I can't figure out which pants are which. And I'll be damned if I ever put them in the kids room. HIGH chance of broken bulb. Mercury/Carpet/Kids don't mix.

LED bulbs... I can't wait (till they're under $5.) Instant-on, LOW wattage, user-selectable colors. The US may as well skip mandating CFL because LED is where we're going.

Other Hybrids... Before long, NASCAR is going to see that there's some way to make this hybrid stuff make cars go faster and farther without a pit-stop... There are four industries here that drive new tech for the consumer. Military, NASA, Nascar and pr0n.

And all my devices on the same plug? GREAT. Less waste will hopefully mean less cost for me. Sure the manufacturers are going to eat most of that money as profit. But, if it means that I don't have to worry about buying a $30 car charger from ATT, I can just use a generic one for $5. Plus I can have a charger in the car, a charger at home and one at the office. I'll never have to worry about being without my iPhone cable again. At a neighbor's house? Good, their's is the same.

Re:Everonmentalism I can agree with (1)

Xtravar (725372) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515601)

On the other hand:
CFL - A time and a place. I leave our front porch lights on at night, and a few others for security. I put in CFLs to save a little money. They run all night and I don't need them instantly, so the warm up time doesn't bother me.

This is a bit off-topic, but I find that my CFLs burn out quite often in the outside light fixtures. Or in any fixtures that aren't completely open air. So I'm kind of interested in how you're handling that. The bulbs say they have a 5 year warranty, but then they burn out in 3 months. I don't have the patience to actually send them in to the company, though.

Re:Everonmentalism I can agree with (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28515881)

Off topic so I posted AC to keep it at 0.

I have most of my house converted to accept CFL or even the long tubes. Some last longer than others but I've had good luck on my outside porch light, at least 3 years average of running about 8 hours a day. I even have some outdoor CFL floodlghts that have lasted several years, they are a regular CFL inside a sealed floodlight enclosure. I've bought many Feit or Fiet brand ones form Costco and those have been hit or miss and last well below average and one even sparked and smoked so maybe the brand you are buying makes more of a difference then the physical placement?

Re:Everonmentalism I can agree with (1)

alta (1263) | more than 5 years ago | (#28516011)

I haven't really had any problems with the CFLs in the outside fixtures. They're pretty standard gas-light looking fixtures, light mounts in the same direction it would in a lamp, not like it would in a closet. surrounded on 4 sides with thin panes of glass, metal frame on top.

If it matters, I'm in Mobile, Alabama. The climate ranges from 101F/90% Humidity, down to 25F... I've done this in my old house and the one I just bought. In the old house I just had them in for 2 years before I moved.

This brings up another situation where I use CFLs, anywhere where it's very difficult to change the bulb because of height or a difficult fixture.

So, has anyone found a CFL that doesn't have a 30-second warm up time? I just had cheap ones from wal-mart, but they could have been GE for all I know.

Re:Everonmentalism I can agree with (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 5 years ago | (#28516033)

Mercury/Carpet/Kids don't mix.

Yeah, if they were to drink a visible quantity of it.

Not the wisp of mercury vapour in a CFL.

Still, whilst I use CFLs a lot, I'm waiting for LED and OLED panel lighting solutions, they will be awesome.

--
Slashdot requires you to wait between each successful posting of a comment to allow everyone a fair chance at posting a comment.
It's been 14 minutes since you last successfully posted a comment

FUCK YOU.

Re:Everonmentalism I can agree with (1)

jhoger (519683) | more than 5 years ago | (#28516143)

A prius? Value isn't there. High up-front costs, low performance. I think not.

Well, maybe the value isn't there for you. But in California, when I bought mine we got carpool (HOV) lane access. That is the main reason I bought the car. It was shaving about a 1/2 hour per weekday off my commute which allowed me to get to night classes on time, and when school was out, I got to spend that 1/2 hour with my family.

I don't know what the performance thing is about... it's not a drag racer, but it isn't like it's scary to merge into traffic which in Southern California is the important thing. Unless you drive like a jerk, speed is a function of the surrounding traffic, not the car itself. For many people higher gas mileage is a more important measure of performance once the basics like "acceleration to merge" are covered.

And the car is roomier than one would expect

But today the calculus would be different and I probably wouldn't buy one, because of no carpool lane stickers.

Re:Everonmentalism I can agree with (1)

mini me (132455) | more than 5 years ago | (#28516315)

Starving people that depend on Corn.

- Corn is in such abundance that we have to pack it into things like soft drinks just to get rid of the stuff.

- The digestible compounds of the kernel just so happens to not be the parts that are useful for creating fuel. This means that you can extract the ethanol and then eat the byproduct.

- Ethanol is typically extracted from No. 2 yellow corn. Good eats for animals such as cattle, but it's not the same kind of corn found at your local grocery store.

Corn-based ethanol may have it's flaws, but running out of corn for humans to eat is not one of them.

Sure, why not... (1)

dvh.tosomja (1235032) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515489)

It will be a standard equipment of electric car, right?

The original post (3, Informative)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515493)

press release [europa.eu] and a memo [europa.eu] .

Most interesting parts:

Incompatibility of chargers for mobile phones is a major inconvenience for users and also leads to unnecessary waste. Therefore, the Commission has requested industry to come forward with a voluntary commitment to solve this problem so as to avoid legislation.

and

Industry commits to provide chargers compatibility on the basis of the Micro-USB connector. Once the commitment becomes effective, it will be possible to charge data-enabled mobile phones from any charger compatible with the common specifications.

My Favorite Part... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28515497)

..is how even if it's a standard plug (mini or micro USB) they tweek the phone so it won't accept a standard USB cable rather you get the "Unauthorized Charger" message. Good for the EU... I wish the US consumer protection agencies would step up on issues like this that would make a difference.

Any traction on this issue in the USA? (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515539)

Is there anything like this in these United States of America? I will not be surprised if there is none.

Why? Because such a thing would be tantamount to "limiting our freedoms." We do the same thing in the Linux space.

God damned liberal communists (1, Funny)

meist3r (1061628) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515541)

Limiting the free market 'n shit ...

Re:God damned liberal communists (1)

zhilla2 (1586095) | more than 5 years ago | (#28516129)

Nothing like good ol' time vendor lock-in! Now let me just replace my dying generic proprietary hardware stuff by paying my vendor outrageous sums of money! Whoops. Seems like company moved to a place called Narnia and accepts only calls made though their proprietary DRM enabled inter dimensional subconscious interface.

Apple? (1)

nsteinme (909988) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515675)

Does this mean that (future) iPhones in Europe will have to switch from Apple's beloved dock connector? That is quite significant for them. Also might they standardize all their connectors and thereby bring this exciting new change to the U.S.?

Re:Apple? (3, Informative)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515753)

The dock connector already accepts USB charging.. they just need to produce an adapter cable - which knowing apple will be an optional accessory costing arm+leg.

meanwhile, when I switched from my Razr to my G1.. (1)

Laebshade (643478) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515739)

I switched from my Razr to my G1 and was able to keep all my chargers. All my data cables worked, too. Even though the HTC G1 uses the proprietary Ext USB connector, it is backwards compatible with mini-USB connectors. 1 charger and data cable at work, 2 chargers and a data cable at home, and 1 data cable to carry in my bag. I wish more vendors were like Motorola and HTC.

Unfortunately, my new stereo bluetooh Lubix headset has a microUSB charger. Damn.

With regard to the iPhone (3, Interesting)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515819)

Apple indicates while it won't drop its connector, it will enable adaptors to be made:

http://www.techradar.com/news/phone-and-communications/mobile-phones/apple-won-t-drop-dock-connector-for-micro-usb-612103 [techradar.com]

Considering that it already connects to USB sockets, then all that is needed is a USB - micro-USB adaptor.

The only question is whether USB power plugs will be made 'smarter', since there are still some that won't charge certain telephones for what ever reason.

Cutting costs for consumers (1)

zhilla2 (1586095) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515845)

I work at a small company ( 200 workers) and there is always a box with bunch of working mobile phones with dead chargers. Or working chargers from long dead mobile phones - all being kept for "pairing" - so until a match pops up, it's a box full of junk. If this was mandatory 10 years ago, we would have definitely saved some money. And have -1 box of junk. Oh and standard batteries would also rock. Of course, at least 3-4 standard types would be necessary due to different phone forms, but still much better than this proprietary mess. And that's just the financial/practical side. Don't get me started on the ecological side :)

Why stop at phones? (5, Interesting)

dfxm (1586027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28515915)

I like that my PS3 controller uses mini USB for charging. I can even charge it right from my MacBook! There are a lot of things that can be recharged, and as things get more wireless, it's going to become more important.

Sony, Apple and Standard in the same line? (1)

WarwickRyan (780794) | more than 5 years ago | (#28516023)

Sorry, can't believe that. The only standard they ever follow are their own.

They're so only going to use the same plug but put the charging ability in software/hardware to force you to buy their accessories. Like they both already do (but with their own connectors).

Charger efficiency (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 5 years ago | (#28516045)

Once they do this, I hope someone makes an efficient multi-charger.

I collect wall warts. Some are 15 years old, and I can confirm that they got smaller over time. But what strikes me most is the Apple's transformers are often half the size (or less) of other transformers at the same power. It seems silly to me to have dozens of these things clustered onto one power strip, all with varying size, efficiency, and quality. It would be better to have one highly efficient transformer with multiple plugs, that could charge multiple devices.

Perhaps this decision is the first step toward achieving this.

Induction chargers (2, Insightful)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 5 years ago | (#28516227)

Induction chargers are the solution, you don't need any sockets.

Plus you can just place multiple items on it.

Three cheers for government regulation! (4, Funny)

quax (19371) | more than 5 years ago | (#28516233)

C'mon market fetishist mod me down!

i'm a bit startled... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28516257)

I can remember an article posted on /. a year ago or something like that, saying that "the EU is considering to force a standard for cellphone chargers" and if memory serves me right, most of the posts there were ridiculing that idea, because
      + companies know best what is good for their customers (or is it their own pockets?)
      + free market!!!
      + regulation is bad
      + oh, those European socialists
      + whatever reason

And now most comments are positive or at least neutral. What happened?

Well, whatever changed your minds, welcome to sanity.

Just to be pedantic (1)

CrashandDie (1114135) | more than 5 years ago | (#28516311)

But if it's in Europe, then it should be "Mobile phone".
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