×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

SMK Toughens Up Those Tiny Micro-USB Connections

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the which-are-a-big-pain-in-the-tuchus dept.

Cellphones 137

An anonymous reader writes "If a gadget ships with a micro-USB port, I see it as a plus because it isn't proprietary — meaning I can easily and cheaply buy replacement cables. But the micro-USB ports aren't the strongest connectors in the world, so if the gadget is expensive (a smartphone) and you accidentally bust the port, you're in trouble. And that's easily done. Japanese manufacturer SMK may have fixed the problem, though, with a new double-strong connector design. They started producing them on Friday, and at an output of 500,000 a month, hopefully they'll be shipping with most new gadgets before long."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

137 comments

Sure they will (4, Insightful)

silas_moeckel (234313) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455182)

Unless it's going to reduce there under contract replacement costs smartphones will not have these. US phone companies want your phone to break every couple of years so you buy a new one with a new contract so they can have horrid service.

Re:Sure they will (0)

said213 (72685) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455246)

People like to buy cheap crap. Unless this new phone runs Windows 7 Phone, it'll never appeal to anyone.

Re:Sure they will (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455520)

Just prepend an "i" and you should be good to go. People like overpaying for things that start with "i".

Re:Sure they will (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37456154)

This guy has it dead on. I've had 30,000 sales of my iDildo product - a virtual dildo for pleasuring your iPhone - at $5 each. What people will do for the iCraze.

Re:Sure they will (1)

ZorinLynx (31751) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455676)

Port failure is usually considered an in-warranty repair, so the smartphone makers have every reason to make the ports as durable as possible.

The second year (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456690)

True, but a 1-year hardware warranty often runs out before the 2-year service contract runs out.

Re:Sure they will (1)

silas_moeckel (234313) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456800)

They have every reason to make sure they do not fail in the first year, they people they are selling these to also want to insure they fail ever 2 years.

Already exists* (4, Insightful)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455202)

It's called a "through-hole mounted connector." Phone manufacturers just like to save a few pennies by using a surface-mounted connector, which is weak as shit.

*Yes this is even stronger, good for the improvement. But through-hole is strong enough, the problem of weak connectors was caused by phone manufacturers being cheap bastards.

Re:Already exists* (3, Informative)

bstreiff (457409) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455428)

It's not always just to save pennies; a through-hole connector has to go through all of the layers of the board. By using a surface-mount connector you only lose the space on the top layer and can route things in the layers beneath (modulo signal-crosstalk issues).

Re:Already exists* (5, Informative)

EdZ (755139) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455570)

Through-hole uses a ton of extra space, bot for the component itself and on the PCB, something you don't want in a small device. Plus, SMT is a LOT more resistant to repeated sudden G-loads (e.g. dropping your phone). If you shove your USB cable in like an ape or dangle your phone by it then yes, a through-hole component would probably hold up longer.

Re:Already exists* (1)

ajlitt (19055) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455988)

If you look at the photo, the frame is through-hole. What they're slashvertising is a connector with a second frame that resists torquing the PCB when stress is put on the connector.

You have no idea what you're talking about. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37455996)

The fact that you believe mfrs switched to SMT from through-hole [i]for cheapness[/i] means you're completely ignorant of the issues involved.

Your phone would be the size of a can of soda if they were still using through-hole parts. Even if the connector was through-hole, the phone would be much thicker than it needs to be.

Micro USB works just great if the user isn't clumsy or an imbecile.

Re:You have no idea what you're talking about. (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456118)

Why would just a through-hole connector cause such an increase in thickness? It might cost about a millimeter right under the connector, and any lower PCB layers would need to route around the area under the connector. Why is this such a big deal?

Re:You have no idea what you're talking about. (1)

Miseph (979059) | more than 2 years ago | (#37457392)

"Micro USB works just great if the user isn't clumsy or an imbecile."

So you're saying it doesn't work at all, then?

easy solution (2)

cornface (900179) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455216)

Stop depending on a dab of solder to support a connector and mount it to the case where it belongs.

This used to be the standard way of doing things.

Re:easy solution (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37455340)

Stop depending on a dab of solder to support a connector and mount it to the case where it belongs.

This used to be the standard way of doing things.

Yes, but this required the connector to be connected with a connector that had to be connected before the case was closed.
It can still be done but manual assembly labour would multiply by 5 or so.
Surface mounting have done a lot to improve the strength of PCB-mounted connectors b.t.w.
In older electronics when the connector breaks it is usally the soldering at the connectors that have broken.
With surface mounted components the amount of solder needed have been reduced to almost nothing since the component legs are touching the pads during soldering. When it breaks it is mostly because the epoxy couldn't hold the copper pads to the rest of the PCB.

Re:easy solution (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 2 years ago | (#37457638)

Uh-huh. And deal with an impedance matched transmission line between the connector and the PCB. And do it such that it doesn't occupy half the volume available for the phone.

Look at any high-frequency instrument assembled such that connectors are on the front panel, say any "vintage" spectrum analyzer. Take out the input connector assembly. Look at its volume and weight. Then put your phone next to it. Hopefully you'll understand then.

Re:easy solution (1)

cornface (900179) | more than 2 years ago | (#37458028)

The port is already sticking out of the phone case. Put ears on it. Put small screws that attach the ears to the case.

Gosh that was tough.

Too late for my N900 (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455218)

Already broken once. Filed down my cables (what the hell was Nokia thinking?) but still seriously concerned that things going to pop off anyday.

Re:Too late for my N900 (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455236)

I filed down my cables from day one. I only plugged a cable in with the hooks still in place once to get a feel for how much force is needed. Considering that the connector is surface-mounted, the amount of force required to remove the connector is terrifying.

Re:Too late for my N900 (1)

kidcharles (908072) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455560)

I'm in the same boat. I actually attempted to replace the connector but the contacts are ridiculously tiny. That's the last Nokia phone I ever buy (for that reason and for their embrace of Microsoft).

Re:Too late for my N900 (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455772)

Best soution is just an external battery charger and an extra battery, lots of their phones use the same battery. Then storage card or wireless for file transfer. Only if you want to keep using the phone that is.

Wasn't that one of the the points of Micro-USB? (4, Interesting)

b0bby (201198) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455240)

I thought that one of the reasons to move to micro-usb was that the parts most likely to be damaged are now on the easier to replace cable side, as opposed to mini-usb where the springs were on the device side. So I would think that the likelihood of device side damage was already less than with mini-usb.

Re:Wasn't that one of the the points of Micro-USB? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37455368)

The issue is that of the connector itself breaking away from the circuit board as they are soldered directly onto the surface of the board. It is very easily done. Solder doesn't have fantastic mechanical strength and solder pads on PCBs aren't that strong either.

Re:Wasn't that one of the the points of Micro-USB? (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 2 years ago | (#37457670)

The problem is typically their incorrect budgeting of mounting area on the PCB. Those miniature surface mount connectors demand large mounting pads for the frame -- really much larger than the minimum dimensions shown in the datasheet. The pads should also have plugged vias in them for mechanical strength against delamination -- this isn't a problem as I'm sure there's plenty of plugged vias in any modern motherboard, whether for a PC, laptop or a smartphone. It's just silly design, that's all.

When will someone address laptop DC jack weakness? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37455288)

Busted DC jacks (and sometimes USB ports) are a huge problem. Mounting the DC jack to the case and connecting to the motherboard with a cable makes replacement easier, but it's only treating the symptom and not the problem.

Apple has a marvelous idea, but seem to be the only ones using it.

Re:When will someone address laptop DC jack weakne (2)

rzei (622725) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455348)

Apple has a marvelous idea, but seem to be the only ones using it.

I agree. However I remember that Apple also patented the discussed DC jack, and doesn't probably want to license it for less than 100% of your laptop's price.

Re:When will someone address laptop DC jack weakne (0)

nickd (58841) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455374)

Right, better watch out for that zOMG expensive gold plated Apple cable - retailing for a whole fucking arm and leg price of $4.04

http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=108&cp_id=10831&cs_id=1083101&p_id=7863&seq=1&format=2 [monoprice.com]

Re:When will someone address laptop DC jack weakne (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455410)

Yup, that sure is a "magsafe" connector alright.

Oh, no, wait: it's a 30-pin iPod cable, which uses the same SMT jack that everybody complains about...

Re:When will someone address laptop DC jack weakne (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37455466)

i think they are talking about the magnetic one on the laptops:
http://store.apple.com/Catalog/US/Images/mb_ib_power_060110.gif
 

Re:When will someone address laptop DC jack weakne (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455598)

I don't believe that Apple doesn't have a valid patent on it. Waring has had magnetic breakaway cables for years and has been using them for powering deep friers.

Re:When will someone address laptop DC jack weakne (3, Insightful)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 2 years ago | (#37457100)

I don't believe that Apple doesn't have a valid patent on it. Waring has had magnetic breakaway cables for years and has been using them for powering deep friers.

A lot of patents on this sort of tech are simply a reiteration of what should be considered prior art with an appended "in a mobile computing device."

Re:When will someone address laptop DC jack weakne (1)

Guppy (12314) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456594)

I agree. However I remember that Apple also patented the discussed DC jack, and doesn't probably want to license it for less than 100% of your laptop's price.

Yup. There was a company that tried to make some external add-on battery for Macbooks, and they had to resort to buying Apple adapters and chopping off the connector to use on their product, because Apple would not license at any price (or the per-unit price was more than a new power adapter).

Re:When will someone address laptop DC jack weakne (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37455358)

Apple what now? Their connectors are horrible and their refusal to follow the industry standard (oh, we only care about the environment when it's not affecting our opportunity to turn a buck) was one of the reasons I went Android in the first place.

Re:When will someone address laptop DC jack weakne (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455458)

What is the industry standard for laptop DC connectors? Last time I checked there wasn't one. Of all of the non-standard connectors, Apple's magsafe connector is the best design I've seen.

Re:When will someone address laptop DC jack weakne (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456230)

agreed - while it seems the vendors are getting smart and standardizing their power connectors (Lenovo uses the same for almost all their laptops now, same as dell) they are only standardizing them in house.. not cross vendor.

i would love to see Apple license the mag safe connector a reasonable enough rates that everyone can use it.. or just put it out there as a standard (like display port)

Re:When will someone address laptop DC jack weakne (1)

optimism (2183618) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455902)

Busted DC jacks (and sometimes USB ports) are a huge problem. Mounting the DC jack to the case and connecting to the motherboard with a cable makes replacement easier, but it's only treating the symptom and not the problem.

Seems to me, that approach solves the problem quite well.

I've never seen a "busted" DC jack...just DC jacks that were soldered rigidly to the PCB, and broke away.

That said, the magnetic connector on the macbooks is a neat design. My only complaint is that it disconnects much too easily. I can't count the number of times that my girlfriend has been using her macbook in bed or livingroom and got a low-battery warning because she didn't realize the connector had fallen off. The battery on that machine has seen far more cycles than it had too, and is near end-of-life now.

This is surely part of Apple's master plan. Easily disconnected power = more battery cycles = shorter battery life = more high-margin battery sales. Plus if you have a Macbook Air, you have to go to the Apple store to have your battery replaced. Brilliant but slimy.

Interesting. (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455290)

The EU decides that all cell phones should use a MicroUSB connector for charging. The MicroUSB port really wasn't meant for constant plugging and unplugging.
Phones break when the ports fail.
Like that isn't scary. I tend to plug my phone in 6 times a day I wonder how long the connector will last?

Re:Interesting. (1)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455356)

Yay, a thread where I can finally whine about the flakiness of the microUSB connector and not get modded down!

microUSB is supposed to have been designed for ~4x more cycles than miniUSB. But I don't believe it. I can barely keep it attached to my phone once continually enough to maintain charging, unless I arrange it so the wire torques the connector down instead of up. Lots of fun to try to do while driving.

Also, it was designed so the moving parts that clip it together are in the cable instead of the phone. So ostensibly if something breaks, you'll more likely be able to fix it by buying a new cable. Which are much more expensive now, whee! $$

Re:Interesting. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37455502)

You realize that you've subjected yourself to possibly being modded down anyway... just because.

Re:Interesting. (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455644)

Perhaps you have a defective device, or were abusing the product. Of the items that I have which use MicroUSB, none of them have displayed even the slightest bit of flakiness to them. But then again neither have my MiniUSB devices and they've been abused significantly more than my MicroUSB devices.

Re:Interesting. (3, Interesting)

DavidRawling (864446) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455372)

The micro connector was designed for 10,000 cycles, IIRC. So you can plug and unplug your phone 6 times a day for 4.5 years. Note that the mini-USB was only designed for 1/10th of that, so the micro connector is the better choice. Go check the Wikipedia article if you don't believe me (not that it's any more authoritative than I am).

Re:Interesting. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37455442)

That 10,000 cycles is # of mating cycles that the connector contacts can handle. It is without taking the misalignment and solder mechanical joints and other real life stuff into account. Also the wafer part is not that strong.

Re:Interesting. (1)

RollingThunder (88952) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456666)

Sure, and those comments are just as applicable to the mini-USB mounts. Hell, probably more applicable; the entire unit of a surface-mount USB it taller, and therefore applies more force to the solders through leverage, assuming the same insertion force.

Re:Interesting. (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 2 years ago | (#37457758)

Agreed. The larger connector will always win, for nature cannot be fooled. In spite of connector size, the insertion/removal forces will be similar, after all it has to deal with same kind of mechanical environment -- phones dropped, phones hitting things in the car, mating/unmating of the connector, stiffness of the cable, etc. If you have less material to carry similar stresses, and substantially similar outline but scaled down, it can't but develop fatigue fractures earlier. There's absolutely no way around this. The smaller (micro) connector's mechanical structure has to fail earlier, because it's essentially the larger connector (mini) scaled down -- the materials, the overall shape, and the environment are still the same. Whoever imagined longer overall life (not contact life) for that smaller connector must have slept through their mechanics of materials courses.

Re:Interesting. (1)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 2 years ago | (#37457168)

The micro connector was designed for 10,000 cycles, IIRC. So you can plug and unplug your phone 6 times a day for 4.5 years. Note that the mini-USB was only designed for 1/10th of that, so the micro connector is the better choice. Go check the Wikipedia article if you don't believe me (not that it's any more authoritative than I am).

I've got three devices with micro-USB ports, with an age of ownership of one year. One micro-USB port has failed.
I've got four micro-USB cables. Two have failed at the micro-USB connector.
I've got upwards of twenty devices with mini-USB ports, with an average age of ownership and frequency of connection similar to the micro-USB devices. None have failed.
I've got even more mini-USB cables than devices. None have failed.

Also, it's a lot easier to plug a mini-USB cable into a port without looking at it first.

Re:Interesting. (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 2 years ago | (#37457780)

I've got upwards of twenty devices with mini-USB ports, with an average age of ownership and frequency of connection similar to the micro-USB devices. None have failed.
I've got even more mini-USB cables than devices. None have failed.

And that's exactly what mechanics tells us should happen.

Re:Interesting. (2)

roblarky (1103715) | more than 2 years ago | (#37457474)

I say we adopt the Nintendo cartridge connector as standard, that way if it stops working all you have to do is blow into it and you're good to go..

Re:Interesting. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37455390)

...I thought one of the whole points was that the micro-USB was more durable, in terms of rated plug/unplug repeats, than mini-USB and others?

Sad (5, Insightful)

hbean (144582) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455360)

Anyone else think its gotten a bit sad that a company building something to last/stand up to use has become a news story?

Re:Sad (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455658)

Sad perhaps, but it was inevitable when companies started outsourcing work from the US and EU where they could easily keep tabs on production to China where it became less convenient to do so. Also, lower costs aren't what one normally considers a sign screaming high quality production capabilities.

Re:Sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37455960)

You know this new connector is invented in Japan right?
Outsourcing really has nothing to do with it.

Re:Sad (1)

BobNET (119675) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456194)

You know this new connector is invented in Japan right?

No wonder this circuit failed. It says "Made in Japan".

Re:Sad (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456138)

>>Anyone else think its gotten a bit sad that a company building something to last/stand up to use has become a news story?

Well, normal full-sized USB connectors (of the various flavors) have held up very very well in real-world use, with the only real issue being that you sometimes have to try to insert them twice, as they are symmetrical and in a dark environment you can't see the black plastic on the inside very well. I heard that they were designed based on Nintendo game plugs, which might explain their success.

Micro-USB, though, IIRC, has those spring-loaded clips to make a strong connection, but the parts are very small, and hard to ruggedize very well with the very small form factor they have to deal with. My first Droid had it fail within a week of owning it, meaning that if I just tilted the phone on its side while it was plugged in, the charging cable would just fall out. It was pretty irritating, especially since it more than once fell out in the middle of the night, leaving me with a minimal charge on my phone for the next day.

So yeah, cut them a break. This is real news, more or less.

Re:Sad (2)

sznupi (719324) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456674)

USB plugs tend to have an embossed logo on the "up" side (unless a manufacturer cares more about "aesthetics" than usability... ); one which can be easily felt, no need to see the plastic inside the connector. Too bad it seems to be less of a rule with USB flash drives - out of my selection, only around half have some embossed, Braille-like stuff (on the cable plugs it's usually the USB logo - on the flash drives it seems to be fairly random) on the "up" side. At least those which don't have it are only symmetric (it could be worse, with the mark on the "down" side)
I've never heard about the Nintendo twist - and I kinda doubt it; the USB comes from mid-90s, when the NES cartridge slot was still a fresh memory, and would probably make everybody wary about anything from Nintendo in the topic of connectors ;p

Generally, "they" do think about it, micro-USB was designed with around an order of magnitude more cycles in mind than standard USB, and also more than mini-USB ...on the side of the socket (moving wear- & damage-prone elements to the cable side; preferable, vs. bricking the device socket).

More generally, we demand and love ever more inexpensive toys.

Re:Sad (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 2 years ago | (#37457010)

>>I've never heard about the Nintendo twist - and I kinda doubt it; the USB comes from mid-90s, when the NES cartridge slot was still a fresh memory, and would probably make everybody wary about anything from Nintendo in the topic of connectors ;p

It was an off-the-cuff remark made by one of my professors. He said they were inspired by the gameboy's connectors, which had been proven to hold up well in real life.

Taking a look at them, I do see the resemblance. (http://www.yyyescable.com/images/Product/PRODUCTPIC/BIG/GAME/gameboy/GBA-GBC-4P-LINK-CABLE.jpg)

Re:Sad (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 2 years ago | (#37457652)

embossed logo on the "up" side

If that is true, its too damn small for us over 50's to see or feel. Why can't they make the plastic reflect the shame of the metal?

Re:Sad (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456920)

Micro-USB, though, IIRC, has those spring-loaded clips to make a strong connection, but the parts are very small, and hard to ruggedize very well with the very small form factor they have to deal with. My first Droid had it fail within a week of owning it, meaning that if I just tilted the phone on its side while it was plugged in, the charging cable would just fall out. It was pretty irritating, especially since it more than once fell out in the middle of the night, leaving me with a minimal charge on my phone for the next day.

The main problem is the little plastic tongue inside the connector is trivial to break off. Heck, I've broken a few of them off of full size USB connectors as well, but the tiny size of that slip of plastic doesn't lend much confidence in the connector. Especially since it's trivial to insert it upside down with the only thing holding it back being that tongue.

And there's enough play that yes, it's possible with a bit of jiggling to insert it upside down.

Also, contributing issues include the wide aspect ratio - it's as wide as a mini-USB connector, but half as thick, and most of the time the plug doesn't lie flush with the surface it's on. An accidental bump on the connector puts a huge amount of stress o nthe connector inside - either the tongue can break, or it can rip the connector off the board.

And that's the final issue - the connector is surface mount and the only mechanical fixing is it's soldered to the board through large tabs. Full size plugs have mechanical through-hole legs, mini plugs usually have large spades for mechanical support.

And only 500,000 a month? When Apple has to buy them for their iDevices (to comply with regulation - it'll probably just be a micro-to-dock adapter), they're going to need millions a month.

Re:Sad (2)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456416)

Do you go out of your way to pay more for more durable products?

People seem to forget that we voted for this.

Re:Sad (1)

hbean (144582) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456728)

I often do, yes, when they available, but they often aren't. And when did we vote to have our consumer products replaced with cheap crap? I'm honestly asking, not trolling.

Re:Sad (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37456888)

And when did we vote to have our consumer products replaced with cheap crap? I'm honestly asking, not trolling.

When most people started buying the cheapest product, paying no attention to quality.

Re:Sad (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456914)

Well, I'll put it this way: Back in the 70's you could purchase a turntable that'd still work today. You would have paid more than the modern equivalent of $700 for it to sit in your closet today underneath an 8-track player, a walkman, a cd player, and three mp3 players.

Slashdotted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37455376)

Hopefully the connectors are stronger than their website.

Not enough bias? (2)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455450)

I know it seems like an odd complaint these days, but my issue with USB connectors - pretty much all of them - is that I don't understand why they don't have a more obvious bias.

It's not clear which side of the plug is up.

Oh sure, if you are looking at it in bright light, you can USUALLY tell clearly.
But if you have bad vision, or are trying to put the cable in a blind spot (we're never plugging in cables that are hard to see, under desks, in the dark, or all three, are we?) it's pretty much a 50% chance if you have the plug right side up.

With the micro usb it's even worse, given their delicacy putting them into a phone, and the ease that one might misinterpret the "not fitting this way" with "not fitting because I'm not pushing hard enough".

Why didn't they make the USB plug format a triangle or some other shape that has a clear "top" and "bottom".?

Re:Not enough bias? (2)

Mike Mentalist (544984) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455526)

I have always wondered this as well and it seems that even the cable-makers have the same problem - I swear that not every device or cable has the USB symbol on the right side of the connection either!

Re:Not enough bias? (1)

karnal (22275) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455798)

Consider my el-cheapo work Blackberry. The power cable for it has "UP" written on one side of the mini USB connector used to charge the phone. However, the connector on the phone is upside down compared to every other mini usb device I've ever seen when facing up on a table.

So if I use the Blackberry charger on my HTC, "UP" has to face down. Nice one, eh?

Re:Not enough bias? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455824)

Many non-compliant devices call it a digital connection (rinky dink stuff like high end Canon dSLRs and such).

Those cables would not be compliant.

Re:Not enough bias? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37455712)

Why didn't they make the USB plug format a triangle or some other shape that has a clear "top" and "bottom".?

One could argue this would give you three directions to gamble with, would it not? (Assuming equilateral) I do agree however, that there should be a clear top and bottom, perhaps a more elongated end, like a "T".

Re:Not enough bias? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455724)

That's better solved by making the cable's orientation more obvious. You're not going to see the internals of the port when you're trying to plug it in, but you can see and or feel the look of the cable without too much trouble..

Re:Not enough bias? (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456086)

Type B is the worse because it does actually fit with the wrong side up. I've burned an external drive enclosure board because of that.

Re:Not enough bias? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37456372)

The USB symbol imprinted on the connector is up. Simple as that.

Re:Not enough bias? (3, Insightful)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456540)

Fifty percent chance? Everybody knows that when you plug in a USB device you push it in, flip it over, push it again, then flip it over the way you had it to get it in! USB connectors are three-way.

Re:Not enough bias? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37457226)

You know which way is up on a triangle?

Wish it 'funneled' better (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 2 years ago | (#37457934)

Along with orientation, one pet peeve of mine with USB has been that the very 'squared off' edges mean that even if you have the orientation right, you have to get the parts exactly lined up before they'll insert. I wish there was a slight 'funnel' at the opening of the female port to make it easier to "start" the connector getting inserted.

How much do they cost? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455518)

That's essentially the question when it comes to whether we get to see them in devices. If they only cost a fraction of a cent more than the old connectors, there's no chance that they would get used, even if they tripled the lifetime of your gadget.

Re:How much do they cost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37455624)

there's no chance that they would get used, especially if they tripled the lifetime of your gadget.

FTFY

Cost of poor quality (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456746)

If they only cost a fraction of a cent more than the old connectors, there's no chance that they would get used

They might cost less once you figure in the cost of in-warranty repairs.

wireless (1)

burris (122191) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455648)

I can't remember the last time I busted my Bluetooth port.

Re:wireless (3, Insightful)

_merlin (160982) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455888)

I can't remember the last time I charged my phone over the Bluetooth port. Oh wait, it doesn't charge over Bluetooth.

Re:wireless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37455932)

And I can't remember the last time I charged my phone through the bluetooth interface! Until wireless charging is standard, I still need this micro USB port.

Sometimes "stronger" isn't stronger (5, Interesting)

MadCow42 (243108) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455654)

Sometimes making something harder or stronger doesn't actually solve the problem. Firstly, you can simply shift the breakage point to something more expensive (the circuit board itself). Often, making something more flexible and forgiving goes a lot further. A "soft" connector that flexes instead of breaks would be much more useful.

I see this with surface coatings all the time. If we have a problem with scratching, making the surface harder actually is counter-productive. Making it softer and more malleable is more likely to solve the problem (the surface deforms around the particle that's scratching it, often resulting in no damage. Even when it still scratches, the resulting defect is much less noticable).

"Bend with the wind"... it's why Bamboo is such a useful material.

Re:Sometimes "stronger" isn't stronger (3, Informative)

janimal (172428) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456340)

If you look at TFA, it seems that the connector actually introduces flex where there wasn't any before.

CAT 5 (1)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 2 years ago | (#37455700)

Somebody needs to do this for CAT 5. The network cables in the conference rooms always have the tabs broken off.

Re:CAT 5 (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456014)

Better the (cheap) cables than the expensive ports in the equipment. But I feel your pain.

Re:CAT 5 (1)

hawleyg (803592) | more than 2 years ago | (#37457926)

Not to quibble but I think you mean the RJ45 connector that is at the ends of your Cat 5, Cat 6, etc.

Weak? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37456152)

I've never broken one or even heard of one being broken. Laptop power connectors on the other hand ...

Typical mistake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37456200)

This is like racing cars in the 1960s... Make them stiffer! Stronger! OK, now they don't break anymore during crashes, but the driver is now jelly. The connector needs to be WEAKER, so it disengages instead of transmitting stress.

Replacement Cables - Not So Fast (1)

tgeek (941867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37456422)

In theory it should be simple, as the author suggests it is, to pick up a cheap replacement cable. However in fact, many of those cheap replacements have non-standard length (does a standard even exist?) tips. As a result, often they either make no contact or the connection is so delicate it's essentially useless. If I happen to find a brand/vendor with satisfactory products, I usually stock up (I go thru these things like crazy at work).

Wireless devices should be wireless, and sealed. (2)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#37457060)

Wireless devices ought to be totally wireless. They already have Bluetooth, so they don't need a headphone jack. Syncing can be done over the Bluetooth, WiFi, or cellular radios, which are already present. Charging should be inductive. (The inductive-charging people need to agree on a standard, or one of the three competing schemes needs to win.)

Then the unit can be sealed up and made watertight and dust-tight. There's already a Casio G-Shock phone that meets military ruggedness standards, so this is quite possible.

Mini USB (1)

cHiphead (17854) | more than 2 years ago | (#37457654)

How about we go back to the rugged mini-usb and throw this micro-usb shit out? Night and day difference in robustness.

Standardized? Not in my experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37457918)

Funny, we have a bunch of gear here -- mostly cameras but a couple of disk drives and gadgets with microUSB connectors. In this pool there are four different and incompatible styles of connector -- differing in the exact shape of the shell. Drives me crazy when my wife keeps losing her camera cable and I need to hunt up a replacement. Be nice if the buggers were standardized like the full size ones. Glad they are someplace but not on my planet.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...