CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

HolidayBuyer's Guide
Laptops

Standard laptop charger on the cards, just like phones

Power panic could be a thing of the past thanks to a proposed universal charger that would juice up any computer from any manufacturer.

Ever found yourself frantically typing faster on your laptop, one eye glued to the battery indicator, because you've forgotten your charger? Fortunately, power panic could be a thing of the past thanks to a proposed universal charger that would juice up any computer from any manufacturer.

According to The Telegraph, gadget watchdog the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) has published technical specification for a universal laptop charger, similar to the standard micro-USB connection found in smart phones.

Mobile phones have all charged using micro-USB since manufacturers signed an EU agreement in 2009 -- and it's brilliant. The advantage of standard chargers are many and obvious: you can use anyone's charger, so you don't have to worry about your phone dying when you're round at a friend's house or at work. It's easier to buy a new lead, as you don't have to hunt down a weird-shaped plug. And you can keep your old charger when you get a new phone, cutting down on the amount of electrical waste thrown away, plus giving you a spare so you're less likely to have to buy a new charger should you lose one.

Apple is the one exception in the world of smart phones with its Lightning connector. Data is transferred faster and it can be plugged in either way round, unlike USB and micro-USB, but they're also expensive to replace -- a new plug costs £15 without the cable, which costs another £15. Outrageous!

And if Apple redesigns things, as it did in 2012, your cables and expensive docks are suddenly out-of-date.

Apple does have the cleverest laptop charger, however: a MagSafe cable attaches with a magnet so if you step on the lead it harmlessly pops off instead of bringing your precious computer crashing to the ground.

But forget that -- wires are so twentieth century anyway. I want wireless charging in tables and cars and everywhere you go so you can just plonk your phone, laptop or gadget down to charge it up when you're having a coffee or at the pictures. Cables be darned!

Is wireless the future of charging? Do you think laptops should have universal chargers? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our fully-charged Facebook page.