I miss removable batteries

Summary:No one is expected to use PCs anymore in this supposed post-PC world, but everyone is supposed to plug in all their post-PC devices into the USB ports of their no-longer-used PCs to charge.

I'm starting to feel just a little bit like Andy Rooney, asking, "Why?" all the time. Today, I need to ask, "Why can't we just use removable batteries?"

These days, it seems like everything comes with a charging adapter -- a USB charging adapter. It's weird. We're all supposed to be using mobile devices that no longer have full-sized USB jacks, but every mobile device has a USB connector for charging.

ZAGGfolio image courtesy of James Kendrick's review

Take the iPad keyboard I'm typing on right now. I had my iPad with me, an article deadline, a Target gift card, and a hankering for coffee. Fortunately, I was near a local Target, so I stopped in. I bought the keyboard (one of the ZAGG ones James Kendrick has recommended), used up my gift card credit, got myself a cup 'o Joe at the in-store Starbucks, and set out to write this article.

Fine, I also got a cheese danish. Satisfied? Truth in journalism, I guess.

Anyway, the keyboard doesn't take batteries. Fortunately, there's a small charge on it, so I'm hoping I'll finish this before the batteries run out, but with a bajillion square foot Target just inches away, I can't go buy batteries and make sure I have power.

The cheese danish isn't half bad, actually.

Anyway, so many other accessories now require USB charging. My media center Bluetooth keyboard doesn't take batteries. My Windows 8 touchpad (no, I don't really use it, but I write about Windows 8, so...) doesn't take batteries. Even my crappy little bedroom pico-projector doesn't take batteries.

Everything needs to be plugged into a USB port and charged. I know this may seem like a convenience to users (except when the power dies and you can't open the thing up), but it's also a gimmee to the manufacturers. They no longer have to include thick power dongles and they're even (generally) too cheap to include a USB to wall-socket plug.

This ZAGG keyboard is a perfect example. It's an iPad keyboard. Yet the only thing in the box besides the keyboard is a mini-USB to full-size USB cable.

So, even though the intended user is expected to have an iPad -- a mobile, full-day-of-charge-not-plugged-into-the-wall-or-why-would-you-need-a-mobile-keyboard iPad -- the way Zagg expects you to charge their mobile keyboard is to somehow find a USB dongle and plug it into the wall or into a laptop or desktop USB port.

Oh, the irony.

No one is expected to use PCs anymore in this supposed post-PC world, but everyone is supposed to plug in all their post-PC devices into the USB ports of their no-longer-used PCs to charge.

It's just not right. Not right at all.

Yes, we bought a bunch of $3 USB wall-socket adapters from Amazon, but that's not the point. I want to be able to change batteries when something dies, not have to wait for something to take a charge. I blame Apple for this. Before the iPhone, mobile devices had removable batteries.

Darn you, Apple!

Topics: Mobility


In addition to hosting the ZDNet Government and ZDNet DIY-IT blogs, CBS Interactive's Distinguished Lecturer David Gewirtz is an author, U.S. policy advisor and computer scientist. He is featured in The History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets, is one of America's foremost cyber-security experts, and is a top expert on savi... Full Bio

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