this along with the proposed standard size power/ plugs for power adapters for things like laptops are making things so much nicer.
The EU is about to make micro USB charging mandatory on mobile phones, but the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is pushing to extend that regulation to everything handheld, making all electronic gadgets chargeable from the same cable. The EU regulation in question is the amended Radio Equipment Directive, which …
>A power socket can't really be improved, except by standardising.
Really? MicroUSB was an improvement over MiniUSB; not only is it slimmer, but also designed so that if there is a mechanical failure it will occur in the cheap cable and not the expensive device being charged.
And so in turn, it is easy to imagine improvements to microUSB. For starters, take the rough edges off so it can't scratch things, make it omni-directional and make it more amenable to using in docks. There is also the situation that a microUSB 3 cable can't be used to charge a microUSB 2 device...
That said, the shortcomings of microUSB are more than made up for by its current ubiquity.
"mired in complaints from manufacturers who are more than capable of filibustering any amendments to existing laws out of, er, existence."
Now why is it, that lowly gizmo manufacturers would be able to flaunt or derail the rule of law? Is that fascism I smell seeping over from the Oligarchy of the United - err Corporate States of America?
So long as devices are built properly to pull a decent amount of current (not the base spec's 500mA) then I don't see a problem with it. It's already nice being able to charge both my phones and my satnav from one cable. Being able to use one adaptor to charge almost anything will certainly help to tidy up the mess of different adaptors under my desk!
>I can see a gap in the market for a double UK socket sized unit to replace a double socket with one 13A socket and a collection of USB charging sockets.
Maybe, but it would need to come with some 3' long microUSB cables to be left in semi-permanently, so you don't have to get down on all-fours to plug the cable in.
"The EU regulation in question is the amended Radio Equipment Directive, which will require all radio devices to feature a microUSB socket."
According to the Amended Radio Equipment Directive linked to in the article:
"On the basis of the Micro-USB interface, the companies have agreed to develop a common specification in order to allow for full compatibility of chargers and mobile phones. These specifications have been translated in European standards.
N.B.: The agreement allows for the use of an adaptor."
How does that equate to all radio devices being required to feature a microUSB socket? If the agreement allows for the use of an adaptor, surely manufacturers can use any old socket that they like?
The fact that it's usually easy to identify the side of a USB cable (even tactily(sp?)) is not as widely known as it should be. Granted, having a cable connector look identical from both sides is frankly stupid. But the USB logo that's usually embossed on every cable end means "this side up". For ports embedded in a computer, it means "this side facing the user in our most usual configuration". Granted, in my desktop computer it really means "you are not a usual user", but at least my fingers know the right position for the cables. And over the years, I guess I have saved at least a work-week worth of fuming about the stupid shape of the connector.
If It's in my computer, yes, I know generally which way is up as long as I'm concentrating. My main problem is when I have to go and use unfamiliar computers, especially fruity ones that have the USB ports sideways somewhere on the back where you can't see them, intermixed with similarly sized firewire, DisplayPort-variant-of-the-week, etc. I don't care if it's marginally uglier, put them on the side where I can actually find them without knocking over assorted photos and pots of pens trying to fumble around blindly.
Problems with USB 2:
1. Only Type-B and Mini-B plugs are sufficiently different visually and tactually for a person to be able to pick them up and know in which orientation they are holding them. The EU standard is for Micro-USB using the Micro-B plug, whilst this plug can be visually orientated, I doubt many have the tactile sensitivity to orientate it without looking or in poor light.
2. The socket also gives little real information on it's orientation, yes visually you can orientate the plug and socket correctly, but try doing this blind or in poor light...
Yes some cable manufacturers do put a USB logo on the cable, but this also is typically too small for a person readily recognise it's presence by touch alone.
The silly thing is that there are plenty of good examples of plugs and sockets, the best know being the old RS-232 D-type connector. Another is the IDE connector with cable key.
Another problem area is robustness of connector, particularly the contacts within the micro-B socket.
But at least it is a standard!
I've often wondered - given that it's a serial connection - why couldn't they be uni-directional? I wouldn't want to be so crass as to suggest that it's just to piss me off. Presumably there is some, sound, engineering reason why they have to physically polarised?
Yes but it's an EU directive which Farage will jump on and insist we don't use and Cameron will no doubt try to placate the grass-root Tory voters by withdrawing from the EU and allow our manufacturing industry to come up with its own Blighty-inspired standard – hopefully one with a union flag on it or something.
Although funnily enough, they don't seem to bleat on about these ones?..
Yeah, but over same time period that Apple stuck with their old 13 pin connector, my assorted gadgets used around nine (?!) different power connectors:
2 different Nokia plugs
3 different Samsung plugs
A weird Sony-Ericsson thing
A fairly generic fat round 5v jobbie
...and some of the above gadgets even used their proprietary connectors for headphones, FFS!
It seems the EU's hand was forced by manufacturers like Sony-Ericsson and Samsung being so daft as to never twice use the same connector; I'm sorry, I just don't see Apple as being culpable in this instance. Forcing something on them for the sins of their competitors is just silly.
I think I said this last time, but it won't be long before Android tablets and phones start coming out with micro USB 3 sockets. You can still shove an older cable into the over sized ugly hole, but most of the time you are going to want the new cable because it charges faster. I would sooner see a wider adoption of wireless chargers and a common wireless standard in the EU.
Set a date where an adaptor is no longer allowed on new products so that Apple and all others must incoperate a micro USB for charging in any new kit but not need to on kit released up till then. Failure to do so will mean they can't sale anywhere in Europe. That wil serve them right for going to lightning and causing problems for those with older docks etc.
Secondly can we please have a standard for if the narrow side is to the front or to the back of all kit and then say a coloured spot or USB symbol or something showing which side cable is to the front. I have 2 phones and they are different......
I can see situations where the power output from USB may not be enough to properly charge a device, though. Certainly mid-range or high-end digital cameras must need more oomph. If they're going to require USB charging for non-phone devices, they should modify the requirement that the device *CAN* be charged by USB, but that an alternative charging method is also available. Replacable batteries (with a suitably standardized recharging device, of course) could be a good alternative. I would expect, though, even if you allow for alternative chargers, they'll have to make sure manufacturers at least make the USB charging usable.
It could only have happened in an EU committee. Select the most user-unfriendly plug/socket combination and mandate it.
Has anyone (for example) given any thought to our older population? I'm not there (quite) yet, but isn't the govt trying to get them all 'online' and web-wise? How does this help?
An elderly person buys a device for which the charging plug is (a) not obviously polarised (but it is) and has no clear indication of 'up' or down (unless you look *really* carefully - why couldn't colour have been used?), and (b) will even then only mate with a socket with extreme care (i.e. careful alignment and insertion).
The actual spec should have been: a plug that is NOT polarised and which will locate into a socket from a reasonable range of angles.
However I think this is a lost cause and history will record mankind as having the most stupid choices both when setting USB plug/socket physical standards, and now this ...
A nice rant may help me, but will it change anything? Unlikely :-)
I think you have a very valid point there. To my shame* I must confess that I am a mega-fan of the MagSafe connector. Slap it on any old way and it works. Rip it off and no damage has been done. That would be it.
Unfortunately it's patented by a sometimes uncooperative company. This should be FRAND and they could skim 5 cents/pence off every charger. It would be a better world.
*Shame. Yup. I don't like Apple, for various reasons: the nannying, the 'you're to dumb for controls'- attitude, the snobness and many more.
But a few Apple things are just so close to perfect. Like the MagSafe.
And it's not below my station to admit it: I envy you Apple users when I look at your MacBook chargers.
Agreed, an old-style 'Nokia' plug is much quicker and easier to use than microUSB.
The only ray of light for the people with reduced dexterity is the promise of wireless charging mats (aside from various proprietary docking solutions such as used to be featured on old Nokias or some new Sonys)
I now only buy gadgets that have MicroUSB, as I only take a single charger on holiday (one with 4x USB ports) and 3x cables. I can charge my phone, my tablet, my camera and e-reader all in one go. No clutter, no hassle.
it's also one of the many reasons I never buy Apple products.
I like Panasonic cameras, but they don't charge over microUSB- and annoying use batteries of much the same size but with millimetre-scale differences so that different chargers are required.
So I bought a Hana universal LiOn charger- just align its pins with the battery contacts, and voltage and polarity are automatically set and charging begins. It will also charge a couple of AA or AAA cells, and has a female USB A socket too. Obviously it doesn't work for gadgets with built in batteries, but is a handy bit of kit to have around.
Some portable computer devices require a high voltage of 12 to 24V because their power requirements are much higher, and even if adapted for 5V charging, this will be too slow, because the cable and PSU will not be able to supply the voltage, and current required, at the micro-USB plug and socket device connection!
Power companies don't use High Tension Voltage power transmission lines because the sparks are pretty, but rather because the lower the current, the lower the resistive power loses; same principal at lower voltages.
I like the idea of a common connector - though micro-USB doesn't seem ideal. Can it handle 2A or more, for bigger devices to charge at a sane speed? I hope the next version of the plug doesn't care which way up it's inserted, and delivers decent current when needed.
Perhaps if the adapter options remains, we'll be OK: the future phone with a superconducting 10A nano-USB socket can still be charged much more slowly from micro-USB to keep compliant until the legislation is updated.
I like standards, they make things simple for everybody and not having to carry several different chargers around is great... but surely this stifles innovation as new features start to get harder to add on, it also makes if easier to blow your phone up because that cheap-and-nasty charger looks so tempting compared to the manufacturer-approved version.
And no matter how much you try to "standardise" you'll always get one manufacturer who will screw things up by adding something just outside the specs which will make your shiny device useless when you upgrade your phone. SCART anybody?
Can anyone quote the efficiency reduction in using wireless charging?
I'd find it difficult to believe that it isn't significant!
Also won't the extra/replacement components weigh more?
It would be very convenient if it could done efficiently, power and weight but I doubt it is possible.
"Ye cannae change the laws of physics, captain"
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