Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/07/07/universal_psu/

Laptop makers 'open' to universal AC adaptor spec

But will the brands follow?

By Tony Smith

Posted in Laptops, 7th July 2010 10:00 GMT

Taiwanese notebook manufacturers - who, let's face it, are responsible for producing 99.9 per cent of the world's laptops, big and small - are apparently open to the notion that they should back a single standard for notebook power supplies.

Now, don't get your hopes up that you'll see a universal laptop power unit any time soon. Right now, such an item doesn't exist, though standards body the IEEE is hoping to come up with one.

The IEEE standardisation process being what it is, it could take years for its team to show there's a need for such a standard and to then come up with a spec that all the participants can agree upon.

At which point, it still has to win over major vendors. While many PC sellers might not care tuppence what PSU they include with their laptops, some - Apple being the most obvious case - do and may thwart the establishment of a standard.

Taiwanese manufacturer support will help persuade them otherwise, but in the final analysis the Asian plants punch out what the customer tells them to produce, and if that included 'non-standard' PSUs then so be it.

Still, we'd join the call for the development of a universal PSU pronto. We've had too many laptops over the years that could be powered from a single power supply but aren't because of differing voltage requirements and connectors.

Compare that to USB charging, which has defined voltage and power parameters, allowing, say, an iPhone to be charged from an adaptor designed for an music streaming gadget - and vice versa.

Since we've mentioned Apple, we would recommend the IEEE takes a look at its MagSafe connector, which is arguably the best connector out there. It's certainly the easiest to connect and, crucially, won't screw up connector or port if the cable is yanked too fiercely - as we've had good reason to rejoice in a number of times since the connector's introduction. ®