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Cellphones Power

Standard Cellphone Chargers For Europeans 257

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the those-lucky-bastards dept.
k33l0r writes "The European Commission is confident that all major cellphone companies have reached an agreement on a standard cellphone charger for consumers within the EU. 'People will not have to throw away their charger whenever they buy a new phone,' said EU Industry Commissioner Guenter Verheugen. Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, Apple, LG, NEC, Qualcomm, Research in Motion, Samsung and Texas Instruments have all signed the agreement."
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Standard Cellphone Chargers For Europeans

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  • by furby076 (1461805) on Monday June 29, 2009 @11:22AM (#28515263) Homepage
    Well this may carry over as a convenience to the US but I doubt it.(why have two plants making two different types of chargers when you can have one plant making one charger type). That why is Verizon & AT&T. They love locking people in, and since there are so many service carriers they do so with products (iPhone for one).

    Hopefully this will spread - but I doubt it.
    • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday June 29, 2009 @11:33AM (#28515469) Homepage

      It's not too much of a lock-in. I can't imagine someone saying, "Man, I'd love to change carriers, but I just don't want to have to use a new charger (which comes with the free phone I'll get). I guess I'll stick with my current carrier!"

      I think it's more an issue of the carriers not caring, and the manufacturers using whatever charger is convenient and cheap for them at the time. Standardization is the sort of thing that benefits pretty much everyone over the long term, but can be a PITA for interested players at the time it's started up. So absent of some external impetus, it often just doesn't get started.

      • by furby076 (1461805) on Monday June 29, 2009 @11:40AM (#28515565) Homepage

        It's not too much of a lock-in. I can't imagine someone saying, "Man, I'd love to change carriers, but I just don't want to have to use a new charger (which comes with the free phone I'll get). I guess I'll stick with my current carrier!"

        My phone came with one charger. I keep a charger at my desk at home (so i can be on my computer and not worry about charging). But I like to have my phone by the bed in case someone calls me - so i dont have to run to the living room (plus it is a secondary alarm for me). So I need to be an additional charger. Then I need one for work (blue-tooth kills phones)...that's two chargers. Then I need one for the car (blue-tooth again, plus i travel a lot)... that's three chargers. Now I also like to connect the device to my computer to transfer files...4th accessory. I would prefer if i could just swap.

        The carriers do care - a lot of the profit for the stores is accessories. They try and push this on you like candy. They buy the chargers for $2-$3 from the manufacturer and sell them for $15 to $25. That's a big profit margin. It's also why you can generally negotiate them. They get a ton of money for selling you phone/service. They are not willing to lose that money so they will give you the chargers.

        • by Forge (2456) <kevinforge@@@gmail...com> on Monday June 29, 2009 @12:03PM (#28515941) Homepage Journal
          Where I live, it's the phone manufacturers that make money off chargers. I.e. A replacement charger for my Blackberry cost the equivalent of U$6 while one for a much cheaper Samsong cost U$15.

          The phone company itself would much prefer if the phones could be virtually free and if they didn't even need chargers at all. (Disclosure: I work for a mobile provider.) The providers make money off call credits and phone bills. Some (including my employer) provide phone instruments at subsidized prices in hopes that people will get hooked on talking to everyone else.
        • by cayenne8 (626475) on Monday June 29, 2009 @12:06PM (#28516003) Homepage Journal
          "Then I need one for work (blue-tooth kills phones)."

          Why not just use the landline they provide you at work at your desk?

          • by MightyYar (622222) on Monday June 29, 2009 @01:13PM (#28517039)

            Why not just use the landline they provide you at work at your desk?

            Do you really think he doesn't have a reason? I mean, give the 2456 user ID some benefit of the doubt here...

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by vishbar (862440)
            The boss got angry when he saw a 4-hour call to a 900 number.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by furby076 (1461805)

            Why not just use the landline they provide you at work at your desk?

            Out of all the reasons others posted - some of which were funny, plus I never saw someone defend someone else on /. the main reason for me is that our company 1) records all calls - so I really don't want my call to the doctor recorded, and 2) they probably frown on it if someone dials to the next state (where i am from) which costs them money.

            I am sure it wouldn't be a huge deal, but why take a chance. Besides, as point one, I don't want my calls recorded on my work line.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jabithew (1340853)

        I suspect this is more to do with waste disposal. I don't know about fellow-geeks, but I have recently cleared my room and found about 15 obsolete chargers for various items I no longer own. All of that is going to have to be disposed of. This new agreement may be the first step towards preventing companies from boxing chargers, or forcing them to sell versions with and without charger.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by nine-times (778537)
          Yeah, I didn't RTFA so I don't know if this info is included, but I've read elsewhere that the plan is to stop boxing chargers with the phones and instead sell it as an optional accessory.
    • by Xtravar (725372)

      What.
      My AT&T phone charges fine with any mini-USB cable I find.

      The weird thing is my GF has a similar model phone, but with Verizon, and hers won't charge through USB, but we can share the same wall outlet.

      • by Laebshade (643478) <laebshade@gmail.com> on Monday June 29, 2009 @11:41AM (#28515567)

        That's because Verizon locks their phones down big time. Since the phone detected a USB data connection, it refuses to charge.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          But with all these people running around with new iphones, there are a lot of secondhand Verizon phones available dirt cheap for people who don't care about silly phones.

          I was forced to drop AT&T (so I have a used razr here) only because of poor reception. There is no reception for AT&T phones where I work; calls are dropped after seconds, and everyone with an iphone is always running outside as soon as their phone rings. This is in Cupertino CA within walking distance of Apple headquarters.
          • by jabithew (1340853)

            Are you sure this wasn't a flaw with the razr? My dad had one of those, on the same network as me, and he couldn't get a signal where I could with an old Nokia brick (TM).

            • It affects everyone here with an AT&T phone. Only one person has a razr at all; there are lots of people with iphones, though, getting dropped calls unless they run outside. Apple has a bunch of local facilities just up the street; maybe they use landlines? Everyone thinks it's bizarre.
        • by AndrewNeo (979708)

          That's silly, and very wrong. Both my Motorola phones charged fine over USB (with the drivers installed, but Moto does that on all their phones), the only one I had was a VX9800 that wouldn't charge over the USB adapter. It's more likely that it just doesn't support it for whatever stupid reason, other than blaming Verizon.

    • by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Monday June 29, 2009 @11:41AM (#28515583)

      My Motorola phone has a standard mini-usb connector but you STILL can't use it with standard charger. Why? "Un authorized charger".

      From what I've pieced together it has a chip in it to fake that it is connected to a computer. This is a double edged sword of uselessness

      1) I can't use my Garmin charger with my phone because it's "un authorized" and won't charge.
      2) I can't use my Motorola charger with my Garmin because Garmin puts itself into PC mode (instead of navigation mode).

      So now I have to carry 2 - 12V -> USB devices with me because of Motorola.

      Trust me, keep an eye out for the buzz words "authentic" "valid" "safe" "genuine".

      • Part of the USB Spec (Score:5, Informative)

        by pavon (30274) on Monday June 29, 2009 @12:23PM (#28516235)

        This is part of the USB spec. Originally USB hosts were only required to provide a certain amount of current to devices. Later they decided to increase this, but to provide backwards compatibility the device has to ask if the host is capable of sourcing that much current before it starts drawing it.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        There is no chip it just puts a little voltage on the data lines. Just take a usb extender and splice one in.

    • The manufacturers of mobile telephones need to take environmental responsibility. A standard connector for AC charging is a step in the right direction. This should make it easier to develop a standard mobile telephone charger for bicycles.

    • Since you can buy chargers for $9 to $14 at the local walmart (I have one for my office, home, car), there is not much lockin.

      But it is idiotic. There should be one kind of charger. Then chargers would be $5. And you would have a lot less waste (my last phone chargers became junk when I changed phones).
      I can use the same micro-sd memory card on my various phones-- that's nice for transferring data. And I can plug them into my laptop.

      Multiple charger formats is as dumb as having more than 5 or 6 kinds of

  • My last two phones have been Nokias, and both of them have had the same charger, with an adaptor for using older Nokia chargers. My two phones before that were Sony-Ericsson and they also had compatible chargers. Do people really throw away their old chargers? If you're moving from one manufacturer to another, you can generally find someone switching in the opposite direction and swap with them. Or sell your old phone including the charger.

    While I like the idea of compatible chargers, I suspect that

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by furby076 (1461805)
      Overall this is a positive step. Yes current gen phone chargers/accessories won't be involved but such is life for new technology standards - some things get left behind. But from next year and on we will be using a standardized interface which will mean you only have to buy the product once. Since they are all the same expect better pricing ($20 for a charger = rip off). One of the things that kept me from going to a new product type was having to re-buy all of my accessories...i would have to negotiate
      • Why on earth would you pay $20 for a charger? They cost around £5 on high-street shops here - less if you shop around a bit - which is under $8 at the current exchange rate. Any Nokia charger from the last 10 years or so will charge any modern Nokia phone (although you may need the tiny adaptor that is bundled with new phones if your charger is over 5 years old), so this will result in throwing away a lot of chargers, unless new phones come with adaptors.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by furby076 (1461805)
          Because the chargers you buy from the misc. vendors are typically cheaper in quality. They are not as tuned to the device and may send power surges which could damage your phone. They are also not as efficient and this turns out into more energy use. Not noticeable for one person, but take into consideration that millions of people use these devices and that adds up to wasted energy.

          Think of your cell phone as your home computer (mine has important contact information, some pics, etc). Do you just plug
          • It all depends...

            The inefficiency would not be noticeable, especially for me.
            As for the power surges it also depends. A USB charging cable is just that - a cable with two connectors. Yes, the cheaper one might be less durable, but if the price is right, it may be better that the expensive original one (depends on how many cheaper cables can you buy for the price on the expensive one). A charger that plugs into the 220V outlet is a bit different, but I can plug the cheaper one to my UPS and have it safe from

    • While I like the idea of compatible chargers, I suspect that this means that all of the existing chargers will suddenly become obsolete with the next generation of phones...

      Nah, your iPhone charger will still work.

      With your iPhone and nothing else, of course. I take it that Apple isn't part of this little bandwagon.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nine-times (778537)

      Do people really throw away their old chargers?

      I would suspect that if you're buying a new phone, old accessories tend to share the same fate as the phone. If you're throwing away the phone, you generally throw away the chargers, too. And why not? The new phone will come with a new charger. The only real exception I can see is if your new phone has the same charger and you want a second charger-- but then again, if you really need a second charger, you may have already bought a second charger for your old phone, still leaving you with an extra.

      And

  • Micro (Score:4, Informative)

    by pete-classic (75983) <hutnick@gmail.com> on Monday June 29, 2009 @11:23AM (#28515283) Homepage Journal

    The story is incorrectly tagged miniusb. It's actually micro USB (which is an inferior connector, in my opinion) which is slightly smaller and lacks the "ears" of mini USB, which is what the Blackberry uses.

    -Peter

    • by nweaver (113078) on Monday June 29, 2009 @12:00PM (#28515883) Homepage

      MiniUSB is rated for 1000 connect/disconnect cycles

      MicroUSB is rated for 10,000 connect/disconnect cycles, and is also thinner by about 1.5mm (critical on modern thin devices).

      Given the power consumption on some smartphones, having the more durable connector is IMO, essential.

    • Re:Micro (Score:5, Informative)

      by AlecC (512609) <aleccawley@gmail.com> on Monday June 29, 2009 @12:07PM (#28516025)

      The micro-USB is superior to the mini-USB in that the springs which provide the retaining force are on the cable side and not on the phone side. If the spring breaks, you throw away the cable/charger, not the phone.

    • by jeffmeden (135043)

      The story is incorrectly tagged miniusb. It's actually micro USB (which is an inferior connector, in my opinion) which is slightly smaller and lacks the "ears" of mini USB, which is what the Blackberry uses. (in my opinion)

      -Peter

      Fixed that for ya. New BlackBerry devices will use the micro-usb connection (some, like the Storm, already do).

  • by blutfink (793915) on Monday June 29, 2009 @11:25AM (#28515303)
  • Batteries too... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by zebslash (1107957) on Monday June 29, 2009 @11:25AM (#28515305)

    That would be nice to have a standard for Li-ion batteries too, from mobile phones to shavers and laptops. This way, it would be easier to recycle and replace batteries, lower costs and remove vendor-specific locks. I like alkaline batteries: around 4-5 different formats to power most of our stuff. With Li-ion, we have gained in power and time, but lost in flexibility. Is that so difficult to implement ?

    • Re:Batteries too... (Score:4, Informative)

      by russotto (537200) on Monday June 29, 2009 @12:39PM (#28516491) Journal

      That would be nice to have a standard for Li-ion batteries too, from mobile phones to shavers and laptops. This way, it would be easier to recycle and replace batteries, lower costs and remove vendor-specific locks. I like alkaline batteries: around 4-5 different formats to power most of our stuff. With Li-ion, we have gained in power and time, but lost in flexibility. Is that so difficult to implement ?

      Lithium ion cells are standardized. Rebuilding the batteries by opening the casing and replacing the cells is often possible. But lithium-polymer cells are a different story; in order to use every bit of space inside the battery or device, the cells are shaped to fit it. So it really IS difficult to implement.

  • Correction (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rickb928 (945187) on Monday June 29, 2009 @11:25AM (#28515311) Homepage Journal

    You mean the manufacturers will be able to make the charger an accessory.

    At additional cost^H^H^H^Hprofit.

    Saving the planet, one quarter's financial results at a time. I'm feeling all warm and fuzzy again, especially around my wallet.

    • Re:Correction (Score:4, Informative)

      by oneirophrenos (1500619) on Monday June 29, 2009 @11:37AM (#28515525)

      You mean the manufacturers will be able to make the charger an accessory.

      Well, isn't that a good thing? What would be the logic of this agreement if the companies just continued supplying chargers with each phone?

      • by rickb928 (945187)

        It's a great thing. I can lay hands on at least 6 mini-USB chargters I've got laying around.

        But will phone prices go down even $10 for those phones that ship without a charger?

        And will we be able to tell?

        ?

    • So you buy the accessory once (for dirt cheap because every cable manufacturer will be making them) and you're set.

    • Apparently you've never seen a place called Ebay. You can get a wall and car charger together for under $10 including shipping.

      • by rickb928 (945187)

        You missed my point. It's not about having a charger or not. It's the joy of wondering if I will be saving any money on my next phone purchase.

        I already have plenty of left-over chargers. You're assuming I need one? That's the point of the EU rule - we have all kinds of lefover chargers.

        ps- Many of the eBay chargers are crap. I need a $10 charger frying my $400 phone?

  • Good! (Score:4, Informative)

    by zebslash (1107957) on Monday June 29, 2009 @11:28AM (#28515369)

    My girlfriend and me have both a Sony-Ericson phone, bought 3 years apart. Guess what ? Both chargers and connectors are proprietary, fragile, weird and different! Of course if you lose it you'll have to spend an arm to get a replacement.

    However this will only work if vendors give the option NOT to get a new charger with a new phone. Otherwise, this will not be really useful.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by rthomanek (889915)

      My girlfriend and me have both a Sony-Ericson phone, bought 3 years apart. Guess what ? Both chargers and connectors are proprietary, fragile, weird and different! Of course if you lose it you'll have to spend an arm to get a replacement.

      While I am more than happy to have the proprietary chargers replaced by a common standard, the statement above contains at least misinformation, if not ill will.

      I've been using Ericsson phones since nearly 15 years now. For the better part of it, they had one standard of charging port. Some three years ago they decided to change it to a new standard. Yes, both were proprietary, but neither of them was weird nor fragile (they are not as trivial as a simple jack is but you quickly come to appreciate their act

  • Man, I knew that headline was too good to be true.

  • by slb (72208) * on Monday June 29, 2009 @11:30AM (#28515419) Homepage

    A good exemple that sometimes the market is unable to find the most optimal solution and someone has to regulate.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Tony Hoyle (11698)

      The market at least in the EU had already pretty much standardised on USB charging.. every non-nokia phone I've had used it. Nokia of course had to be different, but there's only 2 nokia charging standards and adapters are readily available (and since ~70% of the phones you see around are Nokias, it's a sort of standard).

      What this does is codify what was already happening.

      • by itsme1234 (199680) on Monday June 29, 2009 @01:17PM (#28517119)

        The market at least in the EU had already pretty much standardised on USB charging.. every non-nokia phone I've had used it. Nokia of course had to be different, but there's only 2 nokia charging standards and adapters are readily available (and since ~70% of the phones you see around are Nokias, it's a sort of standard).

        What this does is codify what was already happening.

        In what world is this already happening?! We bought at the office recently two Nokia, two Sony-Ericsson and one Samsung. They are beyond craziness with respect to connectors.

        - both Nokias have the "standard Nokia" thin connector that doesn't comply to ANY reasonable electric standard so you can't just connect it directly to USB or any power supply of any reasonable parameters. Specifications here: http://www.forum.nokia.com/info/sw.nokia.com/id/3378ff2b-4016-42b9-9118-d59e4313a521/Nokia_2-mm_DC_Charging_Interface_Specification_v1_2_en.pdf.html [nokia.com]
        - one Nokia HAS a standard mini (or micro?) USB connector but it won't charge over it
        - the other Nokia has a USB connector that LOOKS like mini but it doesn't fit anything but a specific Nokia cable. It still doesn't charge over it
        - both S-E are equally crazy. You need to connect the headphones to the bottom of the phone via a proprietary connector! This is where power and USB cable also go! Still they would charge over USB but you need the proprietary cable and you need to have the proper drivers in the OS (yes, to charge). Because everything connects there you have interesting combinations like you can't charge when listening to the headphones or you can't listen to the radio while charging (because radio needs the headphones plugged in for antenna)
        - Samsung has some kind of crazy flat connector, did not take a close look but certainly not USB of any kind
        - for S-E and Samsung the old chargers don't fit the new phones.

        I see this as a BIG MOVE for Europe.

    • by joebok (457904) on Monday June 29, 2009 @11:50AM (#28515695) Homepage Journal

      Actually, the market IS working in the environment that exists - that it, it is taking full advantage of the fact that the cell phone charging industry does not bear the external cost of disposing of perfectly good chargers every time we get a new device. We need the regulation to push that external cost to be part of the product - then market forces will adjust.

      Rather than a universal charger designed by committee and consensus, I'd rather see regulation aimed directly at closing off the externality. Like maybe requiring cell phone companies to accept old charges back for a credit. Or not being allowed to package a charger along with the phone - make the consumer buy them separately. I think something along those lines would have the same effect, getting better, cheaper, and universal chargers with minimal overhead.

      But either way, I sure hope it spills over to the US - and to other devices. If I have a device that needs 5v, seems like I should only need a transformer of the proper rating - not a random connector as well.

    • by teg (97890) on Monday June 29, 2009 @11:51AM (#28515703) Homepage

      A good exemple that sometimes the market is unable to find the most optimal solution and someone has to regulate.

      While I agree that some regulation is necessary - among other things to maintain healthy competition and free markets - they didn't actually regulate it. They hinted that they might, so the vendors found a solution themselves instead. A gentle, but firm, push in the right direction.

  • So... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday June 29, 2009 @11:31AM (#28515439) Journal
    Any word on whether or not they'll be adding a cryptographic handshake that will lock the chargers down harder than connector swapping ever did?

    They could even adopt a wireless commerce model: "The charger you have connected is not an official 'Motorola by Verizon' brand charger. Press 'OK' to activate the charger for a payment of $29.95 or purchase an official charger." With cellphone location services, you could even do location based selective lockouts! "I'm sorry, your charger is authorized for home use only. Please subscribe to our 'Home and Business' charger plan or, for travellers, 'National Omnicharge Premium' for just $19.95 a month."

    Ah, evil.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Hurricane78 (562437)

      Believe me. The EU would sue them to hell for this. They will pull a Microsoft punishment on them.

      • I would certainly hope so; but having been burned already by Motorola's not-quite-so-standard mini-USB port(though that was some simple resistor based lockout, not a sophisticated crypto setup), I don't really trust the cell guys much.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Andy Dodd (701)

          Not really Motorola's fault.

          Drawing more than 100 mA without negotiating a host connection is verboten by USB
          Drawing more than 500 mA from a USB host is verboten

          So "dumb chargers" that supply 100 mA to a device need some method of signaling this. Unfortunately, the USB Battery Charging Specification was released way too late in the game, after a number of "de facto" standards (most based on using pin 4 of the mini-USB connector) cropped up, with the typical difference being resistor values.

          Motorola/BlackBe

    • by Splab (574204)

      No they wont.

      1. Making that would be stupidly pricey.
      2. It would go against the point of making this, you look at it the wrong way around. If everyone has a standard charger, that means no one needs a new charger with each phone, which means phones drop in price, which means higher handset turnover.

      This is good news for the telecoms since they get a new chance at signing a customer.

  • by alta (1263) on Monday June 29, 2009 @11:32AM (#28515461) Homepage Journal

    I'm no environ-nut. I don't bend over backwards to save the earth. But I do make a change when something 'makes sense.'

    A prius? Value isn't there. High up-front costs, low performance. I think not.

    E-85? Lower energy output than gasoline. Starving people that depend on Corn. Did you know that last year the Mexicans had a shortage of corn products. Do you know they use a LOT more corn than we (US-IANS) do .Glad we're past that.

    On the other hand:
    CFL - A time and a place. I leave our front porch lights on at night, and a few others for security. I put in CFLs to save a little money. They run all night and I don't need them instantly, so the warm up time doesn't bother me. I tried them in a closet... No way. I'm done in the closet before they warm up. They make all of my clothes look blue so I can't figure out which pants are which. And I'll be damned if I ever put them in the kids room. HIGH chance of broken bulb. Mercury/Carpet/Kids don't mix.

    LED bulbs... I can't wait (till they're under $5.) Instant-on, LOW wattage, user-selectable colors. The US may as well skip mandating CFL because LED is where we're going.

    Other Hybrids... Before long, NASCAR is going to see that there's some way to make this hybrid stuff make cars go faster and farther without a pit-stop... There are four industries here that drive new tech for the consumer. Military, NASA, Nascar and pr0n.

    And all my devices on the same plug? GREAT. Less waste will hopefully mean less cost for me. Sure the manufacturers are going to eat most of that money as profit. But, if it means that I don't have to worry about buying a $30 car charger from ATT, I can just use a generic one for $5. Plus I can have a charger in the car, a charger at home and one at the office. I'll never have to worry about being without my iPhone cable again. At a neighbor's house? Good, their's is the same.

    • by Xtravar (725372)

      On the other hand:
      CFL - A time and a place. I leave our front porch lights on at night, and a few others for security. I put in CFLs to save a little money. They run all night and I don't need them instantly, so the warm up time doesn't bother me.

      This is a bit off-topic, but I find that my CFLs burn out quite often in the outside light fixtures. Or in any fixtures that aren't completely open air. So I'm kind of interested in how you're handling that. The bulbs say they have a 5 year warranty, but then they burn out in 3 months. I don't have the patience to actually send them in to the company, though.

      • by alta (1263)

        I haven't really had any problems with the CFLs in the outside fixtures. They're pretty standard gas-light looking fixtures, light mounts in the same direction it would in a lamp, not like it would in a closet. surrounded on 4 sides with thin panes of glass, metal frame on top.

        If it matters, I'm in Mobile, Alabama. The climate ranges from 101F/90% Humidity, down to 25F... I've done this in my old house and the one I just bought. In the old house I just had them in for 2 years before I moved.

        This brings

        • by Xtravar (725372)

          That's weird. I live in WI, which doesn't get too hot. I assume it's the ballast overheating because they usually have burnt marks at the base, and it seems to happen more in smaller fixtures. It also used to happen much more frequently, so maybe this is a problem they have been solving.

          For what it's worth, I'm using the GE Wal-Mart 100 watt equivalent 'cool white' CFLs throughout my house and outdoors. (Not such a fan of 'warm white' - people have said my house feels like a hospital.) Anyway, I don't

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by richlv (778496)

        I don't have the patience to actually send them in to the company, though.

        you just explained why they burn out in 3 months

    • by jhoger (519683)

      A prius? Value isn't there. High up-front costs, low performance. I think not.

      Well, maybe the value isn't there for you. But in California, when I bought mine we got carpool (HOV) lane access. That is the main reason I bought the car. It was shaving about a 1/2 hour per weekday off my commute which allowed me to get to night classes on time, and when school was out, I got to spend that 1/2 hour with my family.

      I don't know what the performance thing is about... it's not a drag racer, but it isn't like it's scary to merge into traffic which in Southern California is the important thing

    • by mini me (132455)

      Starving people that depend on Corn.

      - Corn is in such abundance that we have to pack it into things like soft drinks just to get rid of the stuff.

      - The digestible compounds of the kernel just so happens to not be the parts that are useful for creating fuel. This means that you can extract the ethanol and then eat the byproduct.

      - Ethanol is typically extracted from No. 2 yellow corn. Good eats for animals such as cattle, but it's not the same kind of corn found at your local grocery store.

      Corn-based ethanol

    • by compro01 (777531)

      E-85 - Ethanol is pointless without forced induction, but with it, it crushes gasoline, as you can ramp up the boost and thus the efficiency, enough that you can match milage. And there's lots more sources than corn (which sucks profoundly) like sugar cane and sugar beets, the latter would grow GREAT in most of the US. And it'll be even better when/if we figure out cellulose ethanol.

  • The original post (Score:4, Informative)

    by buchner.johannes (1139593) on Monday June 29, 2009 @11:35AM (#28515493) Homepage Journal

    press release [europa.eu] and a memo [europa.eu].

    Most interesting parts:

    Incompatibility of chargers for mobile phones is a major inconvenience for users and also leads to unnecessary waste. Therefore, the Commission has requested industry to come forward with a voluntary commitment to solve this problem so as to avoid legislation.

    and

    Industry commits to provide chargers compatibility on the basis of the Micro-USB connector. Once the commitment becomes effective, it will be possible to charge data-enabled mobile phones from any charger compatible with the common specifications.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ..is how even if it's a standard plug (mini or micro USB) they tweek the phone so it won't accept a standard USB cable rather you get the "Unauthorized Charger" message. Good for the EU... I wish the US consumer protection agencies would step up on issues like this that would make a difference.

  • Is there anything like this in these United States of America? I will not be surprised if there is none.

    Why? Because such a thing would be tantamount to "limiting our freedoms." We do the same thing in the Linux space.

  • Limiting the free market 'n shit ...
  • I switched from my Razr to my G1 and was able to keep all my chargers. All my data cables worked, too. Even though the HTC G1 uses the proprietary Ext USB connector, it is backwards compatible with mini-USB connectors. 1 charger and data cable at work, 2 chargers and a data cable at home, and 1 data cable to carry in my bag. I wish more vendors were like Motorola and HTC.

    Unfortunately, my new stereo bluetooh Lubix headset has a microUSB charger. Damn.

  • by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Monday June 29, 2009 @11:56AM (#28515819) Homepage Journal

    Apple indicates while it won't drop its connector, it will enable adaptors to be made:

    http://www.techradar.com/news/phone-and-communications/mobile-phones/apple-won-t-drop-dock-connector-for-micro-usb-612103 [techradar.com]

    Considering that it already connects to USB sockets, then all that is needed is a USB - micro-USB adaptor.

    The only question is whether USB power plugs will be made 'smarter', since there are still some that won't charge certain telephones for what ever reason.

  • Why stop at phones? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dfxm (1586027) on Monday June 29, 2009 @12:01PM (#28515915)
    I like that my PS3 controller uses mini USB for charging. I can even charge it right from my MacBook! There are a lot of things that can be recharged, and as things get more wireless, it's going to become more important.
  • Sorry, can't believe that. The only standard they ever follow are their own.

    They're so only going to use the same plug but put the charging ability in software/hardware to force you to buy their accessories. Like they both already do (but with their own connectors).

  • Once they do this, I hope someone makes an efficient multi-charger.

    I collect wall warts. Some are 15 years old, and I can confirm that they got smaller over time. But what strikes me most is the Apple's transformers are often half the size (or less) of other transformers at the same power. It seems silly to me to have dozens of these things clustered onto one power strip, all with varying size, efficiency, and quality. It would be better to have one highly efficient transformer with multiple plugs, that

  • Induction chargers (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gilesjuk (604902) <[ku.oc.nez] [ta] [senoj.selig]> on Monday June 29, 2009 @12:23PM (#28516227)

    Induction chargers are the solution, you don't need any sockets.

    Plus you can just place multiple items on it.

  • by quax (19371) on Monday June 29, 2009 @12:23PM (#28516233)

    C'mon market fetishist mod me down!

  • by Kostya (1146)

    Forcing companies to standardize?!? Will no one think of the innovation? Who's protecting the innocent innovation from being preyed upon?

  • by Animats (122034) on Monday June 29, 2009 @12:58PM (#28516799) Homepage

    The trouble with charging through a USB connector is that it's also a USB port. Most phones aren't well-protected against attacks via the USB port. With a common charger interface, you're going to find charger outlets everywhere. Some of them will be hostile.

    So now you need a cable that only passes power. But that may not be enough. Motorola RAZR phones, for example, won't charge on PCs unless the Motorola driver is present to do the handshake. By default,a USB port will deliver at least 100mA, but if asked, it may deliver up to 500mA. Laptops actively manage USB power; desktop systems often don't bother.

    So you may need a data connection, which opens up a whole new range of attacks on phones. Which means you may sometimes need a "firewall", a device which does the USB handshake and requests 500mA, then delivers it over a cable with no data wires.

    This has been possible for a while, but with standardization, we'll have outlet strips with USB ports all over the place, in cafes, on aircraft, in cars, etc.

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