Thursday, August 12, 2010

Environment and the Power Charger

My post today is a step away from my usual topics. I am packing for vacation and being a connected wannabe-hip geek, and so I am packing a bagful of gadgets. There is the SLR camera, the pocket camera, the video recorder, the Flip recorder, the GPS, the DVD player for the kids, my shaver, my blackberry, my wife’s iPhone, my iPod, the iPad, and I am still debating the laptop. That’s not a particularly impressive list, just what a man needs to barely scrape by.

The problem is that every one of these gadgets requires a power supply, a battery charger, a car outlet charger – or sometimes all of them. That’s creates some problems. First, I can’t find many of the adapters since I only use them on vacation trips which are not frequent enough. I have multiple gadgets that have been retired only because I can’t find the charger and getting a new one is either impossible or unreasonably expensive. Second, many of the power supplies require a separate cable which may also be difficult to locate; not to mention an additional cable for data connectivity. Then finally, there is all the added weight and bulk that easily doubles what was originally a reasonably sized bag. That’s just not right.

Why, I have to ask, don’t we have a standardized universal power supply? All gadgets could probably be powered by the same DC voltage. Apple uses the same power supply for my iPod, iPad, and iPhone. And if the gadgets do need a different voltage, the supply should have a switch between 3, 6, 9, and 12 Volt, preferably automatic. The gadgets should have the same type receptacle – or different sizes according to the different voltage requirements. I hate RIM for introducing a new size receptacle in my BlackBerry Bold 2 that requires a separate cable than my cameras. Sorry my RIM neighbors, that alone is an incentive to buy an iPhone!

The cable needs to be detachable from the power supply and it needs to use the USB adapter to connect to it the way that Apple does. That way, the same cable would work for data connectivity with computers and other devices. Basically, I want one power supply and one cable that can act as both power cable and data cable for all my gadgets. Is that too much to ask? No! Oh wait, and of course the whole thing needs to be small and work in any country. Yes, that’s doable – just ask Apple.

I believe that it is absolutely unacceptable that companies such as Sony, JVC, Panasonic, RIM, LG, Olympus, Canon, Nikon, and Kodak are not only NOT working together but they are even using different power supplies and cables for their own devices. That’s crazy! As consumers, we should demand better. We want the vendors to work together and agree on a standard. The USB standard is a good example and proof that it is possible for vendors to agree. The results would not only be a huge convenience but also some major economic benefits for the vendors. They could ship devices without power supplies. There could be an aftermarket for fancy power supplies in different colors, with battery back-up, solar charger, hand crank, etc.

The elimination of power supplies would also represent a major environmental benefit. Imagine all those power supplies that wouldn’t have to end up in the landfill. In fact, the government should step up and drive such standard in the name of the environment. If the vendors are not capable to work together, the government could come up with a useful regulation for once.


  1. At least for mobile phones a solution seems near:

  2. Excellent idea Lubor!