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S Korea & China Mandate Common Chargers, Data Cables

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  • Mandate (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tekoneiric (590239) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @09:46AM (#17311626) Journal
    This should happen all over. I wonder how much electronic waste is from cables and wall warts?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hal9035 (827327)
      Isn't that the point of USB? What's the "U" stand for, anyway? Since all things come from China.....
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Prof.Phreak (584152)
      I wonder how much electronic waste is from cables and wall warts?

      How will those poor struggling phone manufacturers will make a living if they can't sell an adapter for $39.99?

      And imagine the shock of...having everyone connect their phone upto their PC via USB without buying some proprietary hookup? (and having to re-buy that hookup every time someone upgrades the phone?). That's a lot of $$$!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ucblockhead (63650)
      Definitely! Or, at least, things would be better if electronic devices standardized on a small (5) subset of voltage requirements.
    • Re:Mandate (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Total_Wimp (564548) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @02:39PM (#17315454)
      This is a totally awesome idea, except it's also stupid as hell.

      I've wanted manufacturers to standardize on USB for a few years now. It would truly be wonderful, as many of you have been happy to point out. But what happens when something better comes along? What happens when someone has a great idea, but finds out he can't legally implement it?

      I don't know what that idea may be. It could be the ability to safely and seamlessly hop amperage and voltage to much higher levels based on communication between power-only hubs and devices. It may be an even better connection. It may be much faster data that requires two more wires. I really don't know.

      If it was an industry association mandating the standard, it would be different. Mavericks with good ideas could at least go it alone and see if anyone bites. Industry giants reading good press about the new connection could push for a change and get it.. That actually happens in the marketplace, but governments don't even come close to moving that quickly. If the law prevents people from getting a new idea to market until the law is changed, or government bureaucracy grinds along, it'll put a big damper on innovation.

      Once again, I like USB and I would love all my portable devices to be recharged by it, but once you make differences illegal, you end up paying a heavy price. We shouldn't celebrate a great idea at the moment if it means we'll pay dearly down the road.

      TW

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Danga (307709)
        I've wanted manufacturers to standardize on USB for a few years now. It would truly be wonderful, as many of you have been happy to point out. But what happens when something better comes along? What happens when someone has a great idea, but finds out he can't legally implement it?

        Well they could release the product with the standard cable and then sell the new, improved cable as an additional purchase. If the new cable is actually better then people will pay the extra money to get it and it probably woul
  • Hooray!!!! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by waterford0069 (580760)
    'nuff said
    • seconded! (Score:2, Insightful)

      by cyclomedia (882859)
      Now in europe please, oh and make sure they're all able to charge off of a sensible range of voltage and current and more importantly use the SAME USB socket, because let's face it there are twelve of those two.
  • Way to go! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Argon (6783) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @09:47AM (#17311634) Homepage
    I hate it the way the same vendor changes connectors for different phones. Nokia gets the credit for using the same connector for all it's phones.
    • Re:Way to go! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by lars_boegild_thomsen (632303) <lth@cowOOO.dk minus threevowels> on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @09:54AM (#17311718) Homepage Journal
      They GOT credit you mean. Utopia is is not more - they now use a thinner and completely incompatible plug in several of their phones. I decided - no more Nokia. This is the very reason I've bought Nokia for a long time.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Gubbe (705219)
        Yeah, except that they actually include an adapter in the frickin' box so that you can still use your old chargers with the new thinner socket.

        Considering how large the old connector is, what else could they have done to decrease its footprint in newer, slimmer phones?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by clonmult (586283)
      Have you looked at the Nokia range recently?

      They're now on a smaller version of the power adapter, and use either USB or the pop-port connector for data connections.

      Admiteddly, they're migrating away from the proprietary connections towards USB, and to 3.5mm headphone sockets.
    • Not only positive (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @10:15AM (#17311930)
      Nokia gets the credit for using the same connector for all it's phones.

      I got bitten by exactly that. I had a Nokia phone that ran out of power, but the charger was at home. So I borrowed a Nokia charger from someone else. I looked for a voltage rating on the phone, but couldn't find any, so in the end thought "ok, both phone and charger is Nokia, and the plugs fit, so let's give it a try".

      Took half a year before the battery could hold power for more than a day. Charging a 15 volt Nokia phone (when I got home, I checked the voltage of my own charger) with a 3 volt Nokia charger is very bad for the battery.

      Of course, the other way around might be even worse.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by squiggleslash (241428)

      I don't know what you're talking about. I've had Nokia phones over the last ten years with at least six different connectors for data cables and handsfree systems (21xx series - eg 2190, 61xx series - eg 6185, 9000, 9290, 3220 (actually my wife's), and 6010 (that bizarre 1.8mm handsfree jack.) Even counting just the last five years (6185, 9290, 3220, and 6010), that's four completely different connectors. In terms of current model range, I believe there are phones covering three different, incompatible, co

      • by RMH101 (636144)
        agreed on the nokia stuff - there's been a couple of years where they've kind of standardised, but my first 5 nokia gsm phones *all* used different chargers. same charging voltage, too, just different connectors.

        oh, and what's *standard* about a 2.5mm jack? what's wrong with a 3.5mm one you can plug decent headphones into, for god's sake?

    • by jimicus (737525)
      Except that at some point they changed the spec of the charger to supply a substantially higher voltage - the old type will still charge a newer phone, but a lot more slowly.

      Confused the hell out of my brother who couldn't figure out why his nice shiny new phone had lousy battery life - he'd only ever charged it using the old charger and it had never had a proper full charge.
  • by creimer (824291) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @09:47AM (#17311644) Homepage
    My Dad got a new cell phone made by the same company that makes my cell phone that comes with a dual power interface. At home, he uses the pin connector to charge. At my place, he can use the flat connector that I use to charge my cell phone.
  • what if a device needs more power than usb port supplies?
    • by prefect42 (141309)
      Not necessarily a killer. Dell Axim PDAs can charge off a USB connected cradle, but it's not enough juice to run it. An additional (standard round hollow) connector provides additional power to enable charging and using in the cradle. Annoyingly there's no mini-usb connector on the Axim, so I can't charge without the cradle (or an adapter for the separate PSU).
    • That's generally a sign that the device was poorly designed and should be fixed. It's been a long time since I've seen a handheld device that requires more power to charge than can be supplied by a USB port. The ones that required supplementary power were designed for USB 1.1. USB 2.0 ports can carry a lot more power.
    • The average modern USB 2.0 port can provide upwards of 2000mA.
      • by hcdejong (561314)
        I thought the spec required 500 mA available per port?
        The USB2 ports on my Dell D600 and Mac Mini all supply about this much.
        • A laptop is about 500mA, a typical decent motherboard on a desktop can deliver 2000mA at least. I know mine can.
        • Re:amperage (Score:5, Informative)

          by networkBoy (774728) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @10:18AM (#17311950) Homepage Journal
          you're both right.
          The spec calls for 500mA but most vendors connect the port to an *unfused* 5V line. This (IMHO) is a BadIdea (tm). sure you can draw 2A, you can try to draw 100A too but something's gonna give.
          Case in point: http://xbx.networkboy.net/modules/gallery/albums/a lbum18/P1000121.jpg [networkboy.net]
          It's a design flaw (in most cases) that you can draw that much current from a USB port.
          -nB
          • by GotenXiao (863190)
            At first I thought, "damn, popped cap". Then my eye went across a bit.

            Microsoft.

            Says it all, really.
        • I had this problem with a USB to IDE hard drive. It works fine on my HP laptop, but not on my PowerBook. The genius bar guy said it was exactly due to that. Apparently not all USB device manufactures feel obliged to stay within spec. I found some benchmarks that show the PB actually can access data faster by using a firewire enclosure anyway (despite the nominal data rate being faster for USB2). We'll see how that works...

          I wonder if this will be a problem for phone manufacturers. If they are limited
          • USB2 has a much higher protocol overhead than FireWire, so it tends to be slower than FireWire 400 (assuming you have a device that comes close to being able to saturate it). FireWire 800 is even faster; I have two FireWire 800 drives on a chain and between them they can shift more data than USB2's theoretical maximum speed.

            The FireWire specification allows sending up to 40W through the port; almost as much as the maximum drain of the old iBooks (45W). Unfortunately, it doesn't require than any port actu

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by bdonalds (989355)
        The average modern USB 2.0 port can provide upwards of 2000mA.

        [snarky]So uhhh...have you ever seen the movie "Gone in 60,000 milliseconds"?[/snarky]
    • by CoolVibe (11466)
      Well, what about firewire? ISTR that firewire can provide more power than USB.
    • Then it does not get sold in China or the product will be redesigned. What do you think will happen?

      The best news of this, is that it will force designers to keep to low energy costs. Now, I wish that china and EU would get together and come up with limits on how much energy a monitor and a computer can use. That would have a huge impact on energy useage of future systems.
  • FINALLY (Score:2, Insightful)

    by xtal (49134)
    I have been waiting for this for a long time. This is one case where the sheer insanity of having 12 different chargers makes some sense for a legislated standard. It's unfortunate the industry couldn't play nice enough to not require it, but at the same time, it's NEEDED here.

    You'd be pretty pissed if you could only use a GM-approved fill neck for your car. Why is your phone any different?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      I have been waiting for this for a long time. This is one case where the sheer insanity of having 12 different chargers makes some sense for a legislated standard.

      If it is sheer insanity and it is self inflicted.

      Speaking for the U.S. (I know a lot of other countries are represented on slashdot with different laws and fundamental principles) this is a market issue. We don't have to buy cell phones. We don't have to buy phones with proprietary adapters. We do because it isn't that big of a deal. Yes, it's wasteful. Americans always have been. Yes it's annoying. Americans don't (or didn't) expect legislation to prevent annoying corporate habits.

      We have too many

    • by griffjon (14945)
      I agree; I shouldn't have to pay iGo or someone like $10/head to get a universal power adapter for my laptops and cell phone and such. It's pure insanity the hassle this causes consumers
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...though I don't know is USB has the ompf for that, a standard would be nice. Especially if it worked on planes too.
    • You can 'officially' only guarantee that a USB port will give you 100mA at 5V - 0.5 Watts. A device can ask to increase power consumption (to up to 500mA) in its descriptor following initial power up, but it should not do that until it's been allowed to. In practice, lots of devices just say, "aah, I'm ok to do this" and try to pull the full 500mA.

      Other devices use more than 500mA, and they work in some instances and not in others.

      But either way it's gonna take a long time to charge your 4460mAh/14.8V bat
  • However, always beware the law of unintended consequences. It seems likely to me that the costs for this will be passed on to us, one way or another. The mobile manufacturers aren't just going to redesign and retool for free.

    I would personally rather see more features, better battery life or enhanced reception than plug standardization.

    Anyway, the USB port standard is pretty marginal. I've found them not to be all that durable, especially if you have to plug/unplug items frequently - like one will likely do
    • by cyclop (780354)

      However, always beware the law of unintended consequences. It seems likely to me that the costs for this will be passed on to us, one way or another. The mobile manufacturers aren't just going to redesign and retool for free.

      Yes, but it's a market with prices dropping (albeit slowly, in the last years), so it's not that much a hassle.

      I would personally rather see more features, better battery life or enhanced reception than plug standardization.

      As far as I'm concerned, cell phones have already too

      • by jandrese (485)

        You are probably right, but most cell phone plugs totally suck in this sense. You can be sure that USB is not worse than most of them. And the advantage of having standard USB cables to pass data is good too. If only they standardize data protocol...sigh.

        The USB port on my phone has held up pretty well to two years worth of connects and disconnect (about 1 per day on each). It certainly doesn't feel flimsy like the charging/data port on my wife's Motorola phone. That thing has this long flat connector th

    • by bensafrickingenius (828123) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @10:01AM (#17311800)
      "However, always beware the law of unintended consequences. It seems likely to me that the costs for this will be passed on to us, one way or another."

      I disagree. Costs will go WAY down. Instead of paying high prices for proprietary, hard-to-find cables, we'll be able to cruise into Wal-Martz and ask for a "cell phone cable." "That'll be five dollars, please."

      "The mobile manufacturers aren't just going to redesign and retool for free."

      One might think that they're already redesigning and retooling with *every* new phone, given that they all have different cables?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Kjella (173770)
        Instead (..-) we'll be able to cruise into Wal-Martz and ask for a "cell phone cable." "That'll be five dollars, please."

        Most certainly. But there's definately printer & ink, razor & blades etc. pricing going on here, where they offer you a subsidized price they'll recover through accessories. If they can't count on profits later they need profits now, so expect phone prices to rise. But mostly it's cutthroat on the main item and recovery on all sorts of extras ("extended warranty" anyone?) so it's
    • by hey! (33014)

      However, always beware the law of unintended consequences. It seems likely to me that the costs for this will be passed on to us, one way or another. The mobile manufacturers aren't just going to redesign and retool for free.

      They retool for new models every year or so anyway. The one thing they wont' have to do is retool because of the connectors. They'll buy their cables, power bricks and car chargers from high volume, low cost OEM suppliers.

      Anyway, the USB port standard is pretty marginal. I've found t

    • by 1u3hr (530656)
      The mobile manufacturers aren't just going to redesign and retool for free.

      They change their designs several times a year, and obviously this would not be retrospective, so it shold not cost an extra cent. But they'll try to claim it does, of course.

  • by 8127972 (73495) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @09:53AM (#17311716)
    .... as there is a ton of money to be made in after market accessories (see the iPod for a great example). It would take a lot of balls for cell phone companies (for example) not to do this in places where these mandates don't exist and cut off the income stream of their accessory companies. So consumers in places where these mandates don't exist still have to "vote with their dollars" as it were to encourage manufacturers to make it happen.
  • I wish we could do this in the US. It drives me crazy that I have to throw away 2 chargers (one at office and one at home), a car charger, and the PC data cable every time I have to replace my phone. Only slightly less irritating is that I have to take all that with me when I travel since I have yet to meet someone with the same model phone I have or even one where the chargers are compatible. Maybe if I could get a phone to last more than two years before going bad, I might not be so annoyed at having to r
  • by Goaway (82658) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @09:54AM (#17311726) Homepage
    But this is BAD NEWS because it's GOVERNMENT CONTROL which is EVIL because the FREE MARKET would produce the BEST RESULT for the CONSUMERS!
    • by anlprb (130123)
      In a few places, Air waves, RCA connectors on TV, etc... It is the government's job to regulate standards, not to regulate competition. Two completely different things. Anyone here remember Ethyl stations? How about the CBS format for broadcasting TV? Just because a standard is mandated doesn't mean that the government is interfering in the free market. Just because the government regulated the size and features of a gas pump doesn't mean that there is no competition in the Gas Station market. Requiri
    • by Dunbal (464142) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @10:28AM (#17312084)
      the FREE MARKET

            Oligopolies are not "free market". The current situation produces the best result for the manufacturer :)
      • Oligopolies are the result OF a free market if those markets are not regulated and made fair.

        Like Highlander, there can only be One (or 3-4 in this case)
    • by Ed Avis (5917)
      The article seems to suggest that South Korea has mandated one standard, and China a different and incompatible standard, which does show why having governments arbitrarily decide these things may not always be a good idea. If you live in China and you don't agree with the government's decision, you have no choice to get some different power connector, even if you're willing to pay for such a phone and someone else is willing to sell it to you.
    • The problem with technology is that quite often we either end up with one standard that becomes outdated after years of use, or way too many standards that are highly incompatible. There are times a happy medium is achieved, but not always. Many times a standards body is created to create oversight over an industry standard and help regulate change so that yesterday's connector is compatible with today's PC/laptop/camera/phone/etc.

      My concern about any government doing this is that these are 2 governments
      • by Detritus (11846)
        I have several portable devices that use mini-USB connectors. The connector is small enough for cell phones, and it is standardized.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mjh (57755)
      So, the government mandates that all chargers must be USB. Which means that no one, not even apple, [apple.com] can create a new innovative power connection for charging things. If you believe that USB chargers are the best solution that anyone could ever come up with, then this is a good deal. But if you think that, I think you underestimate human creativity. The people under this rule will be precluded from freely being able to purchase new technology. And that's good, how?

      The free market DOES produce the bes

      • by Goaway (82658)
        The free market DOES produce the best results for the consumer.

        Like it did up until now until the government stepped in and RUINED everything?
  • by jspectre (102549) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @09:54AM (#17311740) Journal
    now this is very nice news. would be even better if car companies put usb plugs right in a car. maybe one for data to play mp3's thru your radio, and a few just to charge various devices. who uses a cigarette lighter socket for cigarettes any more??? do we really need that huge socket plus a usb adapter?
    • by planetmn (724378)
      Most car DC power ports supply 10A of current to devices. This is much, much more than a USB connector is capable of.

      There are devices other than phone chargers that people use that power port for (fridge/cooler, inverter for laptop, etc.).

      -dave
    • do we really need that huge socket plus a usb adapter?

      Powers the $15 inverter so I don't have to buy a $100 12 volt laptop power supply.
  • Standardizing cables is a great idea. Now I can plug my 8-track or phonograph into my computer without finding the right adapter or cable. Someone will certainly complain about too much gov't invasiveness, but anything to get rid of those piles of wires I have hanging around with no known device to power or connect. It's nirvana!
  • Yea (Score:3, Informative)

    by failedlogic (627314) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @09:57AM (#17311772)
    I looked into getting a Data cable from my cell phone provider for a two-year old phone. They want $50! (I know eBay, etc). It goes to show that the proprietary cables cost a hell of a lot more money for nothing.

    And I'll bet with these standard cables, Monster Cable will develop a super-editition with gold-plated connectors, etc, etc! Only $100! LOL.
  • I probably have 6-7 old laptop chargers. They're all using slightly different voltages etc., but they're close enough that it's trivial to get universal chargers that can handle the full span. The problem is that the plugs are all different. If you look at the "universal" laptopchargers you can buy, most of them come with a large selection of plugs... How hard could it be to ensure the laptop can handle an input voltage up to a reasonable maximum, and use standard plugs?
  • Summary is wrong (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Tim C (15259) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @09:59AM (#17311786)
    The summary says that phones "must use USB for charging". The fine article, however, says that "handsets sold there should be able to charge via USB".

    There is a lot of difference between those two statements; the former makes absolutely no sense, as not every mobile phone user has a computer (or one with a USB port). The latter is a wonderful idea that frankly should be implemented as soon as humanly possible.
  • by wannabgeek (323414) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @10:01AM (#17311802) Journal
    At least most of the new phones of Motorola the A-series, the RAZR, SLVR and PEBL etc all come with USB ports for charging as well as data-transfer.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by clonmult (586283)
      Should also add that Motorola have been shipping USB to their proprietary adapters for quite a few years - I got one with my HS820 headset, and can charge it from my PC.
    • At least most of the new phones of Motorola the A-series, the RAZR, SLVR and PEBL etc all come with USB ports for charging as well as data-transfer.

      Too bad many of their FRS radios don't use a standard handsfree headset cable. Radios such as the T6200 series use the M6 plug which is very close to a standard hands free headset but not quite.
    • That's only partially true. While the phones use a standardized USB port for connection, some of them (at least the Verizon RAZR V3C and V3M) will give a message "Unauthorized charger" if you hook up a generic mini USB charger. There may be some kind of handshake required that only the $30 Motorolla chargers are guaranteed to perform. The article summary only mentions standardization of ports. I wonder if software control mechanisms will be eliminated as well...
  • I've spent the last 2 weeks trying to find accessories for my new Samsung, and it's impossible. It has a single proprietary connector for charging and headset. Worse, it's not the connector they've been using all along. It's new for Blackjack and Sync and all of the phones from the past 6 months. WTF!
    No store carries anything, but if you're willing to wait, plenty is coming over from Hong Kong.
    USB would be very nice!
  • This might not be good for cell phone accessory makers, though. Chargers are big business. I have three just for my phone. One for the office, one for the home, and one for the car.

    Motorola has already using USB. It started with the RAZR and SLVR and KRZR. But their older cell phones still have proprietary cables.

  • USB? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gelfling (6534) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @10:08AM (#17311872) Homepage Journal
    WTF does that mean? I have an iPod aftermarket charger that plugs into the wall and accepts the iPod's standard USB cable. Is that what they mean? Because at the least that would mean I could use a cheap wallplug unit for all my phone regardless of what stupid unique connector they use on the phone end. Of course that means that USB cables will triple in price.

    Otherwise if they mean that all phones have to be charged by a USB port to a computer alone that would make less than zero sense. Considering, as others here have pointed out, not all USB ports draw enough current, it doubly makes less than zero sense.
  • Pretty much every GSM, UMTS and CDMA motorola (so not wierd stuff like that IDEN thing) currently available has a mini USB port which is used to charge the phone.
    You can use a wall-wart charger or a car cigarette lighter charger or whatver. It also uses USB for data transfer and if the USB port is powered, will charge whilst sending data. There is the negative that you cant charge and do data at the same time if the USB port cant provide enough juice but the answer is to charge and then transfer data, trans
  • The reason that his has not happened naturally is because the real consumer demand for common chargers and data cables does not exist to a large degree. If it did then the free market would have already responded. Don't put too much stock in the shrill anecdotes here in Slashdot praising the heavy hands of authoritarian governments who consistently think the elites running those governments know better than consumers and manufacturers.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Catbeller (118204)
      The free market has failed us for twenty years on this one. The free market says: buy a proprietary cable, or don't buy at all.

      The free market dictates that nothing works together, so that the businesses maximize profit. This is an automatic collusion. Smith said that no two businessmen ever met that didn't immediately collude to fix their market; he might have added that some markets require no actual collusion, that some exploitation is just obvious.

      This is one of the reasons we have governments. It's al
  • Wagging the dog (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HangingChad (677530) on Wednesday December 20, 2006 @11:30AM (#17312924) Homepage

    This is the second example, but certainly not the last, where China has set a defacto standard for us. Here's what they did with DVD formats [slashdot.org].

    When a country owns all your manufacturing capacity, you can't really tell them no. Who else is going to make stuff for you? Plus we owe them billions on the trade deficit.

    And this is only the warm up act. DVD formats and cables, little stuff. Wait until we start rolling over on the big stuff! ROFL! Maybe we'll wake up to obvious one of these days.

All this wheeling and dealing around, why, it isn't for money, it's for fun. Money's just the way we keep score. -- Henry Tyroon

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