Will You Standardize the @#$%! Chargers Please

Will You Standardize the @#$%! Chargers Please

Summary: Upon prepping my laptop travel case for an upcoming trip, I discovered to my horror that the chargers to my bluetooth headset and my Blackberry were missing. I had apparently left it in my room at the Holiday Inn in Rhode Island last week, and when I called them, they couldn't find it.


Jawbone Rear EndUpon prepping my laptop travel case for an upcoming trip, I discovered to my horror that the chargers to my bluetooth headset and my Blackberry were missing. I had apparently left it in my room at the Holiday Inn in Rhode Island last week, and when I called them, they couldn't find it.

Okay, no big deal, right? Just waltz into any wireless phone store and pick one up. 20 bucks, 3rd party accessory purchase, ka-ching, problem solved. Right? WRONG.

Sure, the Blackberry and many other devices use the same micro-USB charger connector, so it wasn't a tragedy to pull one of my old Motorola Razr chargers out and get my cell back in business. But then I looked at my Aliph Jawbone -- which is probably the best Bluetooth headset in the biz right now -- and remembered that it uses a non-standard, proprietary connector. AT&T Wireless, my cellular provider, doesn't even sell the replacement charger in stores. You need to order it from the Aliph web site.

Look, the whole charger thing is out of control. How many of these damn things do we need to bring with us when we go on trips? Cell Charger, Headset Charger, Camera Battery Charger, iPod charger, Laptop Charger, portable game device Charger. Portable GPS Charger. Chargers, Chargers, Chargers, Chargers. All these freaking chargers. STOP THE INSANITY! Can we just get it down to needing one or two, and being able to split off multiple connectors to a single charger source using a standardized connector? How many damn outlets do I need to use up?

I'm not going to single out Aliph and the Jawbone on the whole non-standard charger thing. Plenty of other devices are equal offenders. It's truly ridiculous and the entire situation has become close to untenable. There has to be a way to get the whole portable consumer device industry in line. Micro-USB seems to be a pretty darn good standard. So can we stick with it, pretty please?

Stop the charger insanity!

Topics: Laptops, Hardware, BlackBerry, Smartphones, Web development


Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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  • I don't know about other bluetooth headsets

    but mine would be to small for a micro-USB port to fit in nicely. That's why it (and probably most others) have a thin, almost needle-like end on its adapter. I like micro-USB too, and most of my more recent devices have that, but even though it isn't huge, it's still kind of wide for small thin devices like a three inch headset. At least it is for my model which thinner than most, perhaps some of the fatter ones might be able to accept a micro-USB if it called for it.
    Michael Kelly
    • The Thickness of the object dictates the adapter.

      My Motorola headset uses a Micro-USB adapter, But my cell is too thin. But for objects that are Thick enough, I think that standardization would be wonderful.
  • It's not as simple as just the connector itself

    There's the issue of voltage and amps being delivered. But I completely agree with you on the absurdity that this whole charger thing has turned into as I look over at the chargers for my FRS radios, headset, two notebooks, three cameras, camcorder, pda, gps, portable media player, 2 mp3 players. I've even got a pile of chargers in the one corner for the odd things. And it's annoying digging through the pile looking for one. And it's not just chargers, it's the AC adapters in general. So many share a similar plug, but the voltage and amps are different. I've gotten to the point that as soon as I get something new, I somehow mark that AC adapter with what it's for especially since some devices come with AC adapters that in no way indicate what they're for. And then it gets even more complicated with connectors that give both data connectivity and charging.

    I think they need to come out with some type of connector that is just one connector, and it has various pins for various voltages and maybe somehow it auto senses how many amps it needs to deliver. That would solve a lot of the problem.
    • Oversimplification

      Its an over-simplification on my part, but there is no reason why we can't figure out -- thru some combination of voltage sensing and a standardized connector -- to make some sense of all of this. Certainly I have seen the multi-charger units they sell at various gadget and wireless stores, but at the end of the day each of those connector adapters for these things have to be specialized, even if you got one plug charging all of them. There has to be an easier way.
  • I found a standardization...sort of

    I have found a standardization method that mostly works. I have an old blackberry charger that simply has a full size USB female connector in the back. I plug a standard USB - Micro USB cable into it and can charge my blackberry and my camera. I plug my iPod cable into it and can charge my iPod Touch (the iPod turns on automatically and rejects the charge, but then you immediately turn the iPod off and it accepts the charge just fine).

    Its not a perfect solution, and when I want to charge simultaneously multiple devices I still have to tote multiple chargers but its a start.
    • Forgot one

      Whoops forgot one. I also charge my spouse's iPod Shuffle with the same charger. So the one charger takes care of four devices--none of which were ever intended to work with the charger. Now I only have to carry multiple cables, not multiple chargers.
  • RE: Will You Standardize the @

    I carry a tiny extension cord with me. I totally empathize -- I lost my laptop charger in an airport on my way to present another seminar in another city -- do we think those could be universal? If we can have universal remotes -- why not universal chargers!
  • Two birds, one stone

    I agree 100% on standardizing these adapters. While we're at it, let's fix the "wall warts" such that they do NOT draw current when not connected to a device. Big business maximizes profits by encouraging waste! Each new cell phone requires a car charger, home charger, protective case, etc. LOTS of profit there. But we're basically wasting resources creating all these items and it's a real waste when the old phones & all their accessories end up in the land fill. This is a time when consumers/shareholders and dare I say, government, should turn up the heat until we can fix this problem! (Sure, there are issues to be worked out, but it's time we demanded better.)
  • RE: Will You Standardize the @

    It would be wonderful to have standard chargers but in the meantime, IGO has excellent chargers with multiple adapters for specific products. Really lightens the load when traveling.
  • USB charge cable

    Don't know if you can do it with your BB, but with my Nokia N95 and N800, I have a [url=https://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.4860]USB 2.0 charge cable[/url] I plug into my laptop with which I can charge both devices--no ac charge adapter required!
    D T Schmitz
  • RE: Will You Standardize the @

    Go to www.callpod.com. They sell a device called the ChargePod. You can connect 6+ devices to it simultaneously to charge and it only uses 1 outlet :). Definitely cuts down on the cable clutter!
    • RE: Will You Standardize the @

      I checked out callpod.com. Great idea, but at $100 they can keep it. I much prefer my free solution listed up in comment thread 3.
  • RE: Will You Standardize the @#$%! Chargers Please

    I completely agree. We have standard AC plugs and outlets, should we not also have the same for DC and rechargables?

    For myself, about a year ago I had enough and would ONLY buy equipment with compatible chargers (Mini-USB). Enough folks did this, it would be a defacto embargo and they'll get the hint.
  • Completely agreed.

    Yeah, gotta completely agree with this. There is some pseudo-standardization for devices that like USB, but for a lot of devices it's crazy why they think they have to use proprietary cables for everything. It's insane. There's no benefit. It's just more pain for the user.
  • And the same for software protocols etc...

  • RE: Will You Standardize the @#$%! Chargers Please

    How about the same soulition that Motorola came up with for the new Razr2, an adaptor that fits the new phone on one end but plugs into a mini usb charger on the other so you need only 1 charger..... But wait if you loose the adaptor you're still up the creek, but a smaller one.
  • RE: Will You Standardize the @#$%! Chargers Please

    Here's an irritating one... my Garmin Nuvi and Blackberry 8703 have the same physical mini-USB plug -- but are not interchangeable! I need to carry both chargers for car and travel. Sublimely ridiculous.