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There Oughta Be a Standard: Laptop Power Supplies

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the watch-them-make-it-lefthanded-micro-usb-3 dept.

Portables 482

Esther Schindler writes "Every mobile device you own has its own power supply and its own proprietary plug. There oughta be a better way, says Alfred Poor. Fortunately, he reports, the IEEE is coming to the rescue. "Their Universal Power Adapter for Mobile Devices (UPAMD) Working Group is developing a new standard that will not just address the needs of laptops and tablets, but will be intended to work with just about any electronics device that required between 10 and 240 watts of power," Poor writes. It's about darned time." If there's one thing I wish for all laptop power supplies, it's that they would license from Apple (or work around, patent-wise) the magnet attachment system that makes cable-tripping far less dangerous to man or beast, compared to a few years ago.

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cost (2)

frozentier (1542099) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544372)

Just hope it doesn't end up costing more than a proprietary power supply, especially since you'll most likely only be able to use it with one device at a time.

Re:cost (4, Insightful)

Arlet (29997) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544418)

It should be cheaper. It opens the door for manufacturers to provide a laptop without a power supply, and opens a 3rd party market for separate power bricks at competitive prices.

Re:cost (0)

odin84gk (1162545) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544654)

You forgot all of the extra safety equipment that must be included to compensate for the full wattage range. That will increase the cost.

Re:cost (1)

Arlet (29997) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544808)

What extra safety equipment ? Higher wattage needs some beefier components, but the price difference is minimal. Safety is mostly determined by providing enough insulation to the mains voltage, which doesn't depend on the wattage.

Re:cost (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544698)

Assuming they don't do something stupid with the power negotiation communication implementation and make it require some stupid patent licenses or similar...

Re:cost (2)

c (8461) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544734)

and opens a 3rd party market for separate power bricks at competitive prices.

... and gives Monster Cable yet another exorbitant gold plated widget that electronics sales drones can push on baffled consumers.

Re:cost (1)

dwillden (521345) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544892)

No this would be more akin to cell phone chargers for cars. You can pay $50 bucks for the official charger at the phone store, or you can go to Target and pay $19.99 each for one or more that matches your phone model. Except now instead of the store having to stock 15 or 20 different chargers, they can offer a couple different ones from different manufacturers. Perhaps with different features. This one has a couple USB sockets to allow for direct charging of gadgets without the computer trying to access them.

You are already seeing this convenience in cell phones and similar sized electronics. My cell and my nook use the same micro USB plug, so my car charger will charge both, and the wall warts and USB data cords for both are fully interchangeable. Also my car charger has a standard USB socket on the back so I bring out one of the other cables and I can charge both. And I bought one more Micro USB cord for use at work to charge the devices there if needed.

Re:cost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36544994)

What do you think why this has not happened yet? They don't want the competition. The cellphone company refused for 20 years to do it, and only did it after they where FORCED by the EU an China. So wait for a law, this is never, ever going to happen without one...

Re:cost (1)

SirGeek (120712) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544634)

What about making induction powering standard instead ?

Re:cost (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544966)

So make every laptop more expensive and make them lose tons of power when you charge it? Sounds like a great solution.

Re:cost (2)

Kenja (541830) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544650)

Why would a power supply supporting up to 240 watts even though your device only needs 10 cost more? Oh wait...

Study Design a Must (1)

nimrod108 (983078) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544398)

The most important thing about this standard is that they need to use a plug resistant to damage. I have 2 laptops at home that work perfectly except the power connection has come loose. It is so frustrating!

Re:Study Design a Must (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544526)

Nothing a bit of solder and epoxy cant fix.

Re:Study Design a Must (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36544656)

not true, copper leads inside the plug can fatigue resulting in plastic deformation (loose contacts) or brittle failure (total failure) Some plugs are non-trivial to replace even with good desoldering skills/equipment and some cannot even be separated from their daughterboards, which greatly increases replacement costs.

Re:Study Design a Must (1)

nimrod108 (983078) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544688)

So they will include a solder gun and a tube of epoxy in the standard?

Re:Study Design a Must (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544896)

I like the way you think!

Oh, and on the plug, width is proportionate to voltage, height is proportionate to current. So if you can jam the plug in, you're assured that close enough to the right rating. Obviously this would also require a key so it will only go in one way. You may cite this as prior art if you like.

Re:Study Design a Must (2)

RedACE7500 (904963) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544602)

It's a common flaw with most laptops that they eventually stop working when not plugged in.

Re:Study Design a Must (1)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544620)

Just don't put HP in charge of coming up with a standard! They have a horrible track record at this! I've had two HP notebooks, a ZD7000 and a DV9000, and both of them developed power connector issues within two years. This is well [hp.com] documented [techsupportforum.com] . One would think that there ought to be a cable or charger of some sort that would allow you to charge via USB, since that works for most mobile phones and small devices, but maybe the USB spec can't handle the amount of power necessary to power the whole computer.

Re:Study Design a Must (2)

teslafreak (684543) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544714)

It can't. USB specification is (I believe) 5 watts maximum, at around 5 volts (so 5v at a max of 1 amp). Most notebook adapters are in the area of 20v and 6 amps or so (around 120 watts). Also, can you imagine someone plugging their laptop into itself to charge. You know it would happen :-)

Re:Study Design a Must (1)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544930)

Ever plug a GPS into a smartphone with USB? Usually the GPS says to itself "Oh look, a connection. I'll just charge up my battery...".

Re:Study Design a Must (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36544724)

This is one (and only) area I will give apple a brownie point, they have those magnetic connectors that can't really be damaged, at least on the laptop.
You hit it and it simply falls off.
I've not had one my self, so I can't say how well they work in keeping connected when they should be, but really it's not a bad start at all!

Re:Study Design a Must (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544984)

This is one (and only) area I will give apple a brownie point, they have those magnetic connectors that can't really be damaged, at least on the laptop.
You hit it and it simply falls off.
I've not had one my self, so I can't say how well they work in keeping connected when they should be, but really it's not a bad start at all!

Apple didn't do anything. They just copied an existing design used in many household electric devices.

Apple's patent is for an electr[strong]onic[/strong] device, while prior designs are for electr[strong]ic[/strong].
It's a bullshit patent, basically. No one sees it as a big enough feature to challenge it, though, because honestly, if you lose a laptop due to tripping, you're just going to go right out and buy another one. You're not gonna pony up even more in unexpected costs for a Mac.

Re:Study Design a Must (1)

squidguy (846256) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544788)

maybe the USB spec can't handle the amount of juice necessary to power the whole computer. Bingo. No way you can pull that much power, at least with existing USB architectures. Perhaps a small netbook or maybe a tablet, but nothing mainstream.

Re:Study Design a Must (1)

shadowrat (1069614) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544814)

Then you could just plug your laptop into it's own USB port and you're all set!

Re:Study Design a Must (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36544938)

Perpetual motion ftw!

Re:Study Design a Must (1)

Elros (735454) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544818)

That's one thing the magnet attachment system is really handy for. Bought a brand new Dell and the power cord is slightly loose out of the box. Only complaint I have about the system, but it's annoying when it works itself just barely loose. I leave it sit and come back to a dead battery.

Mod summary up! (4, Interesting)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544438)

My wife used to knock over her iBook all the time. When we got a dog, it fell off the coffee table twice as often. We replaced it with a MacBook some time back, and it's only hit the ground once in like five years. With a kid having been added to the mix since then, that number would have been a lot worse without the magnetic plug.

Of course, the kid has come pretty close to doing some other things. He went through a phase of being fascinated by watching water pour over different things.

Re:Mod summary up! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36544608)

Your dog falls off your coffee table twice as often as your iBook? Why do you keep your dog on your coffee table? If he's that prone to falls you should keep him/her on the floor.

Re:Mod summary up! (3, Informative)

poodlehat (919902) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544754)

I've been on the mailing list for this working group for about a year now (I am an IEEE-SA member but you don't have to be to be on a WG), and one of the first things I brought up is my tendency to drop my electronics :) A bit more detail, the current thinking is that it will use CAN 2.0 for the link layer but the physical layer is still being hashed out. The device needs communication to negotiate between the power adapter and the device to be powered. The device and power supply will communicate things like if it sourcing or sinking current (or capable of doing both), whether it is a battery, an intermittent supply like wind or solar, etc. It sounds pretty cool if manufacturers go along with it.

Re:Mod summary up! (5, Informative)

Albanach (527650) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544842)

Why is there a patent on MagSafe? I had a deep fat fryer with a magnetic power cable in 2004. Apple's patent was filed on Christmas Day 2007.

Re:Mod summary up! (4, Interesting)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 2 years ago | (#36545008)

Apple's patent is for that *On a Computer*

Lower efficiency (1)

odin84gk (1162545) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544450)

While I fully support a standard connector, I hope they realize that this will increase the electricity consumption of these devices, along with increasing the price of each charger.

With that being said, I significantly prefer convenience over efficiency, so I am looking forward to what they come up with.

Re:Lower efficiency (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544584)

While I fully support a standard connector, I hope they realize that this will increase the electricity consumption of these devices, along with increasing the price of each charger.

When I measured my laptop's power consumption it was taking 25W at the wall; so turning off a light bulb would save more money.

Re:Lower efficiency (1)

emj (15659) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544920)

But butbutbut... I have no light bulb in my home that use more than 11W (but that's more than my laptop uses so I guess your point still stands.. :-)

Re:Lower efficiency (2)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544630)

how does this increase consumption?

if I take my 19 volt 4 amp power supply into one laptop that draws 2 amps, it still draws 2 amps

Re:Lower efficiency (1)

teslafreak (684543) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544778)

I believe he is referring to the efficiency of the power system. If you are working in a specific power rating, you can fine tune the circuitry for better efficiency at those levels. With this, they have to be able to run at much broader specs.

Re:Lower efficiency (1)

Ruke (857276) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544674)

Why is that? Because a brick for a 10 watt device is going to have to be over-engineered to provide up to 130 watts? (The summary's "240" appears to be incorrect, based on the IEEE working group description.)

Re:Lower efficiency (1)

j-beda (85386) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544872)

That over-engineering might result in increased efficiency. When supplying 130 watts, waste heat from inefficiencies are more important than when supplying 30 watts, so a 130W supply might be designed to only have 5% inefficiencies, compared to the 30W supply that may be acceptable with a 10% inefficiency. Thus using the 130W supply for a device drawing only 20W may result in only 0.1W of wast compared to 2W of wast if using the 20W supply.

But what do I know? Maybe power supplies waste a set amount of energy rather than a fraction of their draw.

In any case standardizing on a voltage and a plug/socket combo and just specifying the current drain of the device would go a long way to making the world a better place even if some "universal" power supply was created.

Re:Lower efficiency (1)

poodlehat (919902) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544874)

The bump up to 240 from 130 is currently being voted on by the WG and the ballot doesn't close until the end of this week, so it is premature to say that in the summary (but might be true real soon.)

Re:Lower efficiency (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544736)

To be honest, this isn't like cell phones where standardizing around micro USB was enough. Laptops use different amounts of power and making it so that the same charger will work on a netbook as a desktop replacement is hardly a wise idea.

There are certain things that can relatively easily be standardized, such as the polarity of the connector, but when it comes down to voltage and amperage, you're better off setting it up so that there's a small assortment of connectors available, and one combination of voltage and amperage per connector. So that if it fits it's not going to damage the machine.

Also, WTF is up with manufacturers that don't bother to label their power supplies? I really appreciate that Epson and Creative bother to put their names directly on the transformer so that I have that many fewer I have to check to determine if it's the one I want. I just wish I had realized years ago that I need to label the power bricks before I waste a lot of time looking for the one with the correct output and connector.

Re:Lower efficiency (3, Interesting)

Arlet (29997) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544738)

I could imagine that efficiency will improve. Right now, a laptop manufacturer that includes their own power brick has not much incentive to make it really efficient. It's easier just to make a bigger one with a cheaper design.

With a standard connector, there will be 3rd party vendors that offer standard bricks, and some vendors will aim for the highest efficiency as a selling point.

Re:Lower efficiency (1)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544756)

At the cost of using more magnetic components it's perfectly possible to keep efficiency of the power supply constant over a larger range than is usual now (essentially just use multiple smaller power supplies in parallel and turn them off as necessary). So it wouldn't necessarily increase power consumption if it was designed to handle the wider range.

About Time (1)

bragr (1612015) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544452)

So we've only been waiting for this for over a decade, lets just hope it doesn't go the way of a bunch of the other "universal" standards that never get adopted.

Also what kind of power bricks are we going to have if they have to handle 240w? I don't really want to carry around a 2lbs brink for my laptop that peaks at 20w of power usage.

Re:About Time (1)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544548)

It depends on the EU ... the only way this would get off the ground is with legislation on a large market. The only large market which still occasionally passes reasonable consumer legislation (getting worse every day, but something still occasionally slips through) is the EU.

Re:About Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36544768)

That's if the EU is still around in a few months...

Re:About Time (1)

Arlet (29997) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544552)

A standard connector and voltage, and a choice between a small number of different power levels would solve that.

Re:About Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36544644)

You know USB can handle up to 1.8A (under the BCS), and yet my phone with ~200mA maximum current in host mode works fine? Just because the standard covers up to 250W doesn't mean every PSU must cover the whole range...

not 240W (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36544476)

That should read 10W to 130W, and 110V to 240V.

Ok, the connector is pretty nice... (1)

SubtleGuest (967971) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544478)

I will begrudgingly admit that the Apple magnetic power connection is vastly superior. But it's the only Apple feature I covet!

Re:Ok, the connector is pretty nice... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36544518)

hmm, my 5 year old deep fryer at home has a magnetic attachment for the plug.... Are we certain Apple even has a patent on this?

Re:Ok, the connector is pretty nice... (1)

teslafreak (684543) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544578)

They do at least in the US, patent number 7,311,526

Re:Ok, the connector is pretty nice... (1)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544556)

I wish USB had a magnetic connector like that. I myself have had more 9.8 m/sec^2 events involving USB than power connectors, but maybe I'm in the minority.

Re:Ok, the connector is pretty nice... (1)

contrapunctus (907549) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544786)

yeah but think if all the warnings about improperly disconnected hard drives that will show up

Re:Ok, the connector is pretty nice... (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544632)

+magsafe +connector +burn

And implementations have existed way before Apple, as with all ideas which end up being ascribed to Apple.

Re:Ok, the connector is pretty nice... (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544850)

So... why had no one done it before on a laptop? It seems obvious for a device that moves frequently and is very often plugged and unplugged...

Not the first, but come on, it's hardly rocket surgery.

Re:Ok, the connector is pretty nice... (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544992)

Because, while I'm sure Apple fanboys will claim it to be the perfect power connector, it has its disadvantages too. Start with the above search. Then there are people complaining that it comes out too easily; others complaining that they've knocked the cable and it's pulled the laptop to the floor with it (false sense of security!).

I've only ever knocked a portable computer to the floor once. It was Psion Series 3a, in a biology lab, and it wasn't connected to anything. Still works fine decades later. I appreciate that some people are more lackadaisical or clumsy with their hardware, but for those who aren't, a MagSafe connector's disadvantages may outweigh the advantages.

A side note (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36544490)

There is almost no way Apple could have a patent on a magnetically coupled charging cable. This technology is nothing new, and it isn't limited purely to the realm of computer power supplies. I have a fryer that has this safety feature....but....now that I think about it....the device is stark white with few buttons....

Re:A side note (1)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544590)

There can be only one!

(and NO fans)

Re:A side note (1)

bragr (1612015) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544642)

They were awarded the patent. Sure there may be prior artwork which would void that patent, but do you have legal resources to fight Apple's lawyers long enough to actually point that out to a judge?

Re:A side note (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544876)

They have a patent on their implementation of the idea. The idea itself is not patented.

Re:A side note (0)

bragr (1612015) | more than 2 years ago | (#36545018)

OK, you design something similar without using magnets.

There oughta be a standard! (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544492)

Also, that standard should license proprietary designs from a single company with money I conjure from thin air.

Why stop at power supplies? (1)

jdastrup (1075795) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544532)

How about ink cartdridges? Laptop batteries? etc.

The answer is the same - money. Those darned evil companies actually enjoy it when you buy their products, over and over again.

Re:Why stop at power supplies? (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544798)

How about ink cartdridges? Laptop batteries? etc.

The answer is the same - money. Those darned evil companies actually enjoy it when you buy their products, over and over again.

There's a real reason why inkjet cartridges differ among manufacturers -- many have the printhead built-in, and printhead is one of the differentiators that distinguish quality (and price) among manufacturers. Even for those that don't include the printhead, the manufacturer tailors the ink for their own printhead and ink delivery system. However, what should be against the law is chipping the inkject cartridge to prevent 3rd party replacements from working - if someone is willing to risk leaks or poorer quality with a 3rd party cartridge, they should be allowed to.

The laptop batter is integrally molded to fit within your laptop. The cells within the plastic are already industry standard cells that you can buy on the open market.

However, it's harder for a manufacturer to argue that they need a custom power adapter if there were an industry standard multi-voltage adapter available. After all, 100W at 17V is the same no matter who makes the adapter. There can be an industry certification process for voltage drop at high currents, ripple, etc, so the manufacturer can say that only "certified" adapters may be used.

Re:Why stop at power supplies? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544832)

Ink cartridges and batteries have a much more reasonable justification for not being standard. Unlike the power lead which delivers the same thing in slightly different amperages and voltages, batteries and ink cartridges have other considerations which need to be made. For one thing, there isn't just one type of battery on the market, even as far as lithium based ones go, there's quite a few, and they have chips in them to determine how much to charge and track the health of the battery.

Or have you forgotten about those batteries which exploded because they were poorly manufactured? The same thing can happen if you don't use the appropriate power to charge them.

Magnetic connector with strain relief (1)

navyjeff (900138) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544536)

The magnetic connection would be nice, but only if they also specify proper cable strain relief. I've had a couple of those Apple power supply cables break open at that point.

Re:Magnetic connector with strain relief (1)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544686)

If you got one in the last month or two, you'll notice that the cable connects in a different spot now, so it's far less susceptible to breaking off. Even before, it was much less troublesome than having the whole barrel connector snap off inside your Dell! Nothing like the nervous feeling of soldering on a laptop.

Re:Magnetic connector with strain relief (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544890)

They did change it - it was still a weakness in the design, which was worse before when it was a physical plug. The new ones are much better.

Apple MagSafe problems well-known (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36544538)

While the idea of using an Apple-like magnetic connector is cool, there are a lot of issues:

(1) Some of us do work where having strong magnets laying around on a desk is a bad idea. (2) The Apple MagSafe adapters have been highly unreliable, and Apple won't license to third-parties, so you're stuck buying another Apple adapter which will then fail. (3) There can be reports of metal fragments and other magnetic particles sticking to the plug and causing problems.

Re:Apple MagSafe problems well-known (1)

aristotle-dude (626586) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544780)

While the idea of using an Apple-like magnetic connector is cool, there are a lot of issues:

(1) Some of us do work where having strong magnets laying around on a desk is a bad idea. (2) The Apple MagSafe adapters have been highly unreliable, and Apple won't license to third-parties, so you're stuck buying another Apple adapter which will then fail. (3) There can be reports of metal fragments and other magnetic particles sticking to the plug and causing problems.

Citation needed.

Re:Apple MagSafe problems well-known (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544912)

While the idea of using an Apple-like magnetic connector is cool, there are a lot of issues:

(1) Some of us do work where having strong magnets laying around on a desk is a bad idea. (2) The Apple MagSafe adapters have been highly unreliable, and Apple won't license to third-parties, so you're stuck buying another Apple adapter which will then fail. (3) There can be reports of metal fragments and other magnetic particles sticking to the plug and causing problems.

Citation needed.

#1 - compass calibrators

#2 - http://www.zdnet.com/blog/mobile-gadgeteer/apple-magsafe-failure-prevents-work-from-getting-done/276 [zdnet.com]

#3 - http://www.corbisimages.com/stock-photo/rights-managed/BE052647/huge-magnet-picking-up-scrap-metal/?ext=1 [corbisimages.com]

Re:Apple MagSafe problems well-known (1)

imamac (1083405) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544862)

Highly unreliable? I think not. I have had 4 MacBooks since they started the magnetic power adapter and have not had any reliability issues. I have also never had any metal fragments stuck to the connector. Maybe we shouldn't keep metal shards on your desk? Your first point and the last half of point 2 does have merit, however.

Re:Apple MagSafe problems well-known (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544936)

1) it's not a strong magnet - that's the point of the design
2) [citation needed]
3) this is a potential problem - you need to check the plug for any magnetic "debris"

Re:Apple MagSafe problems well-known (1)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544958)

The metal fragment bit does seem annoying ... how about using negative air pressure instead? Or is that patent barred as well?

What about batteries? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36544550)

The oughta be standardized battieries, too.

But how will companies survive? (1)

Tyr07 (2300912) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544564)

All of a sudden, you don't have to pay 80$ to replace their power cord, or purchase a new laptop since it's not worth buying the power cord. That idea is as crazy as...5 cent lithium watch batters not costing 4.99 each. Wishful thinking.

Power over ethernet! (1)

Fast Thick Pants (1081517) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544572)

POE should be the standard... and that will stop those sneaky bastards from obsoleting ethernet jacks from our new fancy tablets and notebook PCs.

Re:Power over ethernet! (1)

tom17 (659054) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544826)

Even better is power over wifi!

Re:Power over ethernet! (1)

tom17 (659054) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544844)

POW!

Re:Power over ethernet! (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544856)

Do not want, the standard network jack was not designed to have the cable constantly being plugged and unplugged. When it comes to my laptops, I tend not to use the network jack very often, but the power cord has to be used at least once every several hours of computing.

If we want to move to a POE standard, the jack would have to be a lot more durable than what it presently is.

Bulkier devices, less battery life (1)

RedACE7500 (904963) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544576)

The reason for custom batteries is often to make them fit within the available space of a device while minimizing dead space. Apple has even gone so far as to mold their gel batteries inside the case. By making them non-removable they 1) save space by not needing a hard-plastic case to protect the cells, 2) minimize dead space by being able to shape the battery as needed and 3) can get longer battery life by being able to fit their custom-shaped batteries into a larger percentage of the device. I'm not an Apple fan-boy, but I thought this was pretty cool.

Re:Bulkier devices, less battery life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36544706)

The OP isn't talking about the batteries. We're talking about the power supply to the computer.

Re:Bulkier devices, less battery life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36544782)

This is about power supplies, not batteries.

or... (1, Informative)

Taibhsear (1286214) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544586)

If there's one thing I wish for all laptop power supplies, it's that they would license from Apple (or work around, patent-wise) the magnet attachment system that makes cable--tripping far less dangerous to man or beast,

Or you could, you know, not put your power cable in an area that people walk through...

Re:or... (1)

KshGoddess (454304) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544854)

Or you could, you know, not put your power cable in an area that people walk through...

One of my first jobs would have been way easier if someone had invented the magsafe connector. The company I worked for had laptops on carts for the nurses to be able to chart meds and other things automagically next to the patient bed. (Scan patient, scan drugs, give patient drugs, record updated with what, how much, and when.) We had ~10-12 instances of electricians being called to remove one prong of the plug from the wall socket because the nurses just walked off with the cart without unplugging the laptop first. This was in the mid-to-late 90s, and replacement plugs from toshiba were expensive. Like $75/ea.

Connectors (1)

Kuukai (865890) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544592)

If there's one thing I wish for all laptop power supplies, it's that they would license from Apple (or work around, patent-wise) the magnet attachment system that makes cable--tripping far less dangerous to man or beast, compared to a few years ago.

Also just wear and tear on the connector. I've seen laptops become unusable just because the power socket is stupidly designed and ends up getting loose. Even some sort of less-patented snap design or something would be better. Van der Waals force, I dunno. Hell, even just something that isn't a cylinder that goes over a small bendable pin, maybe something totally solid like the Apple one only it goes in further, that would be nice...

While they are at it ... (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544628)

Please also standardize Batteries for these devices. Either that or I'd like them to have the ability to update the cells inside easily (non sealed)

MagSafe (1)

pz (113803) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544638)

If there's one thing I wish for all laptop power supplies, it's that they would license from Apple (or work around, patent-wise) the magnet attachment system that makes cable--tripping far less dangerous to man or beast, compared to a few years ago.

The connector is called MagSafe (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MagSafe).

As someone with an EE background, what I've not understood with their design is how they compensate for a lack of wiping action on the contacts. Reliable contacts require wiping between the two surfaces to ensure low resistance; non-wiping contacts have inherently shorter lifetime. Exposed, non-wiping contacts would be expected to fail quite quickly.

Re:MagSafe (1)

jdastrup (1075795) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544824)

That's why you should always wipe.

Re:MagSafe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36544974)

Cotton swabs, push twist, works like a charm......but then again, never had to clean an Apple Magsafe connector/charger. :-)

Re:MagSafe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36545010)

Reliable contacts require wiping between the two surfaces to ensure low resistance; non-wiping contacts have inherently shorter lifetime. Exposed, non-wiping contacts would be expected to fail quite quickly.

So you have to buy an iSupply 2.0, of course!

Re:MagSafe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36545016)

Those connectors actually move around a fair bit, probably enough to scrub some oxidation anyway. The one on my first MacBook used to get the contacts stuck a bit, required a finger to push them in to loosen them up. The new(ish) MacBook doesn't seem to have that problem. Better yet, they fixed the cable side head and gave it a strain relief.

Internal PSUs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36544730)

What happened to the days of old when some laptops came with built in power supplies and you just needed an AC cable? I liked those.

Re:Internal PSUs (2)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544976)

What happened to the days of old when some laptops came with built in power supplies and you just needed an AC cable? I liked those.

Laptops got smaller.

Try mobile phones, portable game consoles, etc (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36544790)

I would really appreciate it if ALL portable devices could standardize on a charger cable. USB has 3 or 4 cable types, can't we have something similar for these other devices? Nintendo can't even come up with a charger cable for their portable systems that works across all of them, and it's their own devices.

Believe it when I see it (1)

vawwyakr (1992390) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544816)

It's one thing to have a standard it's another thing to have companies actually use the standard! Look at USB power for phones, pretty much all modern phones can connect to a USB port and get power there and many even have USB plugs now but many (looking at you Apple) however still choose to force people to use their of proprietary connector. It's in many companies interest because they think they can make a buck from it.

Wait a minute... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36544840)

If this were software, people would write:

"You're the same kind of person that railed against the circular saw in the first place, I bet. Normal saws were plenty good enough and inventing new things was pointless, eh?

Tools change all the time for ALL professions and crafts. It just so happens that programming is new and as such hasn't been solidified yet.

Feel free not to use anything we make. It won't hurt our feelings."

Oh wait, they do. Confusion and customization in hardware = bad, re-inventing the wheel every day in software = good. I see. Just another example of the arrogant hypocrisy of the spoiled software brats.

Sure (1)

lennier1 (264730) | more than 2 years ago | (#36544972)

It worked for headphones back in the day. Three different sizes, depending on the type of device.(2.5mm, 3.5mm, 6.36mm).

Most companies already have an internal system like that anyway, where you have one size for normal laptops and a smaller one for low-power devices like netbooks.

magsafe fuckers (5, Insightful)

Speare (84249) | more than 2 years ago | (#36545000)

I really liked the MagSafe(tm) concept when Apple first came out with it, but Apple has been such a fucking prick about the damned things. They don't offer any significant range of options to use the plug, and they actively stymie all attempts of the marketplace to fill that void. Want a piggy-back battery to supply power to the laptop? Apple doesn't make one. Want to tie in with a docking station? Apple doesn't make one. At first, when asked about third party adoption of the plugs, they were "oh, well, I guess they'll start coming out any time now." Then it was "oh, well, guess nobody's trying to license them." Then when manufacturers tried to license them, they were refused. So one manufacturer decided to eat the waste and rely on the doctrine of First Sale. They BOUGHT Apple(tm) adapters, chopped off the white wallwart transformer, and soldered the MagSafe(tm) pigtail to their own battery packs, and they were still attacked by Apple's lawyers. WTF, Apple. People have varying needs to make use of your products. Step up to offer the solution, or get out of the way.

I'm a computer company. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36545002)

Why would i use this 'standard'?

I can't charge a premium for replacement cables that use my patented connector.

500% profit even on a small item is nothing to throw away.

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