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Standardisation, good or bad?

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by GeoffR, May 28, 2021.

  1. GeoffR

    GeoffR Well-Known Member

    Some years back the EU decided that ditching chargers when ever a product was upgraded was a bad idea and insisted that all mobile devices should use a common charger.The connector for that common charger system was USB C. That may seem a sensible idea but it meant that Apple ditched their excellent MagSafe power connector for the inferior USB C with all the risk of damage associate there with. Not to mention the need for adaptors to use standard (USB A) USB devices with USB C ports, essentially the directive appears to have moved the problem from power supply connectors to data connectors.

    Thoughts Ladies, Gentlemen and others?
  2. AGW

    AGW Well-Known Member

    Standardisation is essential. They should pick the best standard (which includes a bit of future-prooffing). Mains voltage and out lets are standardised so the same logic should apply to rechargeable/portable gadgets.

  3. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    Good to have a straight DC supply. I’m fed up with having the office packed with distribution boards loaded with transformers set at different voltages and no consistent plug size or polarity. Proliferation of USB connectors is confusing. A,B, C, mini, micro ... I switch between 4 different types (5 if you include the square one for printers)
  4. GeoffR

    GeoffR Well-Known Member

    Mains voltage UK, Australia, South Africa plus some other commonwealth countries, 240V (nominal) Three different plugs all mutually incompatible unless you have the multi-standard socket.
    Europe, 220V (nominal) Shuko sockets but there are two different pin diameters.
    USA, Japan, 110V (nominal) two different plugs, with or without earth pin.
    Yes lots of standardisation there. When I travel I carry both UK and destination power cables plus USB cables of various types (USB A to whatever) and use my computer as the charger interface.

    At first glance a universal charger looks a great idea, and I only carry devices from one manufacturer, but “wall wart” power supplies with fixed, moulded plugs negate the universality.

    I agree with you where USB connectors are concerned, far too many different ones. Worse, with USB C the cable needs to be of the correct rating for the device. My MacBook requires a 100W cable but a phone can get by on only 20W, don’t mix up the cables.

    Seems to me standardisation has made things worse rather than better, the law of unintended consequences?
    ascu75 likes this.
  5. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    We shouldn't forget that...
    • We never know what we don't know.
    • Prediction is a fallible procedure.
    • New technology implies new solutions.
    • Today's standard is tomorrow's bottleneck.
    Given that the alternative is to think Mr Stephenson's "Rocket" is still the height of technology, I can put up with the need to change cables every so often.
  6. Zou

    Zou Well-Known Member

    Care of XKCD:

    Terrywoodenpic, Geren and AndyTake2 like this.
  7. dangie

    dangie Senior Knobhead

    I don’t know the answer to this, so I’m asking.

    Is there a standard for electric vehicle charging points? For example plugs, sockets, cables etc.
    No matter which make or model of electric vehicle you have, can it be charged from any charging point?

    Is this one area where there has to be standardisation?
  8. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    According to the press accounts I have seen the answer is no.
  9. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    There seem to be 4...
    • Type 1 (J1772)
    • Type 2 (Mennekes)
    • JEVS (CHADeMO)
    • CCS (Combined Charging System)

  10. GeoffR

    GeoffR Well-Known Member

    I am actually in agreement with Andrew, I can cope with changing the cable occasionally, as long as I don't have to carry around a whole load of different chargers. Standardise the voltage and maximum current of the charger, fit a common connector and then leave the user to find the correct interface cable. The USB phone charger meets that requirement rather nicely.

    I understand the desire for a common charger for computers but I have such a device, it has variable output voltage and a range of connectors for use with pretty much any computer prior to the move to USB C, with the notable exception of Apple MagSafe devices.The idea behind the "standard" interface is reasonable but I can't use any computer charger, I need one rated at 87W or more, anything less and I'll be waiting all day. So, the "universal" charger is no closer. It is actually easier, and possibly safer, to have different chargers rather than apparently similar chargers that are incompatible. Zou's cartoon hits the nail squarely on the head as far as I am concerned.

    Rumour has it that Apple will break ranks and restore a separate power connector with the new MacBook Pro, I'll be interested to see what they do.
  11. Zou

    Zou Well-Known Member

    No, there isn't. Off the top of my head I can recall 3 different types, but there are possibly more. Decent charging points have the various ports as required. Less decent ones don't. Here the pulic network is accessed with a 'Charge Place Scotland' card to activate the charging, but IKEA uses a proprietary system so they can make you pay to use it (just download another app!) as do other places I'm sure.
  12. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member

    Don't recall what it was (external hardrive?) but the charger came with an adaptor that had three options - uk, europe and us - you slid off one part and replaced with with the relevant pins for what you needed.
  13. AndyTake2

    AndyTake2 Well-Known Member

    One of the biggest issues with the standardisation of USB has been the interpretation of it.
    FireWire, Lightning etc, whilst being Apple proprietary, are still USB because they meet those standards...It's just that Apple decided to take the standard off on their own tangent.

    USB-C is probably the best thing that has happened to the whole infrastructure. It is small enough to fit on just about anything, and if PC boards (and others) start implementing the C connector instead of a compatible USB-A 3x things will get even better.

    Apple have their Magsafe, and will keep it to themselves instead of releasing it as a standard under IEEE governance. Wireless (inductive) charging is a good idea for a lot of things, but we are nowhere near standardising the technology.

    It's interesting to note that the EU did the right thing in forcing standardisation and the whole world seems to have followed - one push from a major bloc can have positive consequences.
    The repairability of tech is next. Unsurprisingly, Apple have failed to sign up for the latest initiative regarding this matter.
    At the very least, phones and tablets should be able to have their batteries replaced without smashing the damn thing to pieces.
  14. daft_biker

    daft_biker Action Man!

    What if there wasn't standards for things like fuel? Or food production?

    When it comes to bikes few standards seem to last or become the norm. My bike uses IS disc brake mounts but post mounts with spacers for bigger discs seems to be the norm now. ISIS bottom brackets never took off either....it just saved everyone else coming up with their own way round shimano patents for 5 minutes before 2 piece cranks made it obsolete technology.
  15. peterba

    peterba Well-Known Member

    Is it normal to get cycle parts from terrorist organisations? o_O ;) :D
    Learning likes this.
  16. Zou

    Zou Well-Known Member

    That was one reason why that standard didn't last. ;) Anyway (bottom bracket pun warning), I'd say this thread is now screwed.
  17. AGW

    AGW Well-Known Member

    I grew up with a household DC supply... not that useful. The last DC adaptable tv was in 1964. The arcing issue is a nightmare, the switches have to be heavy and spring loaded. Having a AC circuit installed was brilliant.

    DaveS likes this.
  18. daft_biker

    daft_biker Action Man!

    English screwed or Italian screwed? :D
    Zou likes this.
  19. GeoffR

    GeoffR Well-Known Member

    There are many different USB connectors, aside from type C, all designed to be smaller than USB A which is itself small by some standards. I don't like having to have different cables for different devices but cables are cheap and prone to failure anyway. A charger with a USB A socket was/is standardised and having different cables is more a matter of convenience than anything.

    USB C could have been a good thing but, unfortunately, the fact that there are different chargers all with the same connector has spoiled that. My MacBook charger can output 20.2V @ 4.3A, 9V at 3A or 5.2V @ 2.4A through a USB C connector. One charger with a USB C connector may support only 5.2V equally another the my support 9V or 5.2V then there are chargers that support all three voltages but at lower current. What could have been "standard" is actually a whole mix of standards made even more complicated by the presence of "charge only" cables. A visit to Amazon will reveal several different standards of USB C cable, charge only, 100W, 3A, 60W (3A and 60W not necessarily being the same thing). Ideally there would be only one USB C cable, the 100W variety which is compatible with all use cases. With USB A the output was 5V @ 500mA, until Apple needed 1A to charge iPads.

    I agree, if Apple had released MagSafe as a standard we probably wouldn't be in the position we are with USB C charging for computers.

    The idea was right but its implementation hasn't had the desired effect.

    I can understand why Apple haven't signed up, Apple products are as thin as they are because internal connectors etc. have been eliminated. Repairability would require whole scale redesign of the product range to make everything thicker and negate their unique selling point. Not that I agree with the Apple approach, I would like to see the products restored to upgradeable with memory sockets and SSD connectors, I can live with an additional 1 or 2mm thickness if it means I can increase the memory and/or storage as my needs evolve. I also disapprove of Apple's combining of the Thunderbolt 2 and mini display ports simply because it adds complexity, is the adaptor I am holding a Thunderbolt adaptor or merely a mini display port.

    I agree that there should be requirement that devices can be repaired, and it should be a legal duty not an option. Standardisation of battery form factors, voltages and connections would be nice too!
    Last edited: May 29, 2021
  20. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    Everyone can second guess the designers but it's an excercise in futility if you don't have all the facts about who asked for what and why they did.
    ascu75 likes this.

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