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December 19, 2013

One Charger to Rule All Laptops May Arrive In 2014

It may sound like a pitch for an updated “Hobbit” installment featuring the One Charger, but the reports appear to be true and have absolutely nothing to do with Sauron. Essentially, in 2014—should laptop makers be prepared to accept such a thing—there may be one standard in laptop charger, meaning that whatever charges an Acer will also charge a Dell and even an HP, and even beyond.

Such a wonder was brought about courtesy of International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) Technical Specification 62700, and would be set to be compatible with what's described as a “wide range of notebook computers,” implying that perhaps not every laptop would be covered by such technology. But with the new standard comes new technology for each part of the charger, from the connector to the plug to a host of new features geared toward improving safety, performance and perhaps biggest of all from the IEC's standpoint, the environment.

The IEC's statement on the release of this new charger standard mentions “e-waste” several times, and addresses one critical point: a universal charger principle makes for less waste related to electronics. It appears to have worked that way in mobile phones, or so the IEC notes, so too is it likely to work for laptop computers. E-waste related to chargers, according to the IEC release around the new charger, is estimated at around a half-million tons every year, and that's not just the chargers, but also computers that are also thrown away when the charger fails, as replacement chargers can be difficult to find.

At last report, though, this may not mean that every laptop that comes out will have a new charger. Rather, though, this is more of a recommendation taken from the IEC to get developers behind the new protocols in a bid to reduce waste and make things a little simpler for everyday users. It remains to be seen just how many laptop makers will take the IEC up on its concept, which is set to be ready and released in the early going of 2014.

It's a great idea, really, especially for those who switch laptops frequently and don't favor one brand over another. It serves several useful purposes, allows users to save money—no more having to throw out a whole laptop because the charger went south, or trying to find just the charger for that laptop or that breed of laptop available—and allows laptop makers to claim a little good publicity with the “reducing the e-waste” concept. Granted, some sales might drop once one of the forces behind new purchases is somewhat curtailed, but there's always a value to good press.

Only time will tell just how many makers go with IEC Technical Specification 62700, but it's a safe bet that before too much longer, a lot of laptops will be able to plug in on the strength of the same charger.


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