By Evan Ackerman
Nine or ten months ago, we heard that the biggest cell phone manufacturers were all planning to standardize their chargers. It sounded like too good of an idea to be realistic (since they’d no longer be able to gouge you on charging accessories), and funny, we haven’t heard anything since. Now Westinghouse, a respectably large electronics company, has committed to using a universal adapter made by start-up Green Plug.
The Green Plug universal adapter will be able to power and charge multiple devices (just about anything that uses electricity and/or has a battery) all at the same time, at proper voltages. So really, you’d just need one of these things under your desk to charge all your stuff. The problem is that the Green Plug system knows how much to charge devices by communicating with the device itself, necessitating some modifications by the manufacturers. Westinghouse is a good first step, but more big names will have to get on board before it become cost effective to buy a universal smart charger, which should go on sale early next year for about $100.
Some 3 billion power adapters are going to be shipped this year, and most of them aren’t reusable and just end up in landfills. China (of all places) requires that all cell phone chargers use a standard 5 volt USB connector, but that’s not likely to happen in the US thanks to our brilliant free-market economy. Oh well, at least the gnomes that live in the forest of charger cables under my desk will be happy that I’m not going to be able to consolidate their home out of existence.