Finally, the GPS manufacturers realize a common power supply is the right approach

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by sarah bennett, Jun 30, 2009.

  1. As a followup to the two-year old article
    A portable GPS should use standard mini-USB power (but which ones do)?

    Note the Europeans finally, two years later, have made the small USB
    connector the standard for power supplies starting next year!

    Micro-USB to be universal EU phone charger

    Hopefully this adherance to standards will migrate to the United States so
    that all our portable electronics uses the same port for charging and data.

    IMHO, the following should all use a standard-sized power/data port:
    1. Cellphones
    2. Earbuds
    3. GPS
    4. Cameras
    5. Disks
    sarah bennett, Jun 30, 2009
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  2. sarah bennett

    Strongbox Guest

    It would be great if our congressmen had the same balls as the EU.
    Unfortunately there is much money to be had selling custom interface
    devices for power and data ports. US manufacturers have strong lobbys.
    Strongbox, Jun 30, 2009
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  3. sarah bennett

    TonyD Guest

    Our congressmen have no business interfering with the electronics
    manufacturers- at least in non-safety related matters. If you don't like
    what they are selling, don't buy the product. We have more than enough
    government busy-bodying as it is.
    TonyD, Jun 30, 2009
  4. sarah bennett

    John Navas Guest

    Agreed. I try to select products with Micro-USB charging.
    Not really -- it's quite expensive to distribute and stock the plethora
    of accessories, which is why even cheap aftermarket chargers actually
    aren't so cheap. Non-standard charging ports are not something favored
    by manufacturers. Obstacles to standardization have included anti-trust
    laws, technological limitations, cost, and lack of a good standard to
    rally around. But fortunately there now seems to be some chance that
    Micro-USB will finally overcome all that.
    John Navas, Jun 30, 2009
  5. sarah bennett

    Poldie Guest

    There's a lot of typing to be done in favour of or against this
    decision; the reasons, lobby groups, posturing etc. At the end of the
    day, though, it's a win for consumers (less clutter) and it's going to
    result in a few million tons less in landfill sites around the world.
    This is a Good Thing.
    Poldie, Jun 30, 2009
  6. sarah bennett

    J. Clarke Guest

    I have no problem at all with the government requiring standardized
    interfaces for common electrical devices.
    J. Clarke, Jun 30, 2009
  7. sarah bennett

    ASAAR Guest

    Custom devices still need to use the ports, proprietary or not, of
    the manufacturer's cameras. Which of Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Ricoh,
    Samsung, Leica, Panasonic, Pentax, Sanyo, Sigma and Olympus are
    products of US manufacturers? Well, I suppose that Kodak may still
    be a US company (even if they don't manufacture their own cameras),
    but they're hardly controlling the lack of standardization. For
    cell phones, Motorola is much larger and more influential than
    Kodak, but they're still swimming in a sea of full of foreign
    manufacturers. Or do you think that US pols readily reach for
    stuffed envelopes when approached by Delkin's lobbyists? :)
    ASAAR, Jul 1, 2009
  8. sarah bennett

    dave cohen Guest

    I don't think it's always a case of unwillingness to standardize, but
    the ones that aren't currently using the proposed standard will lose out
    cost or profit wise. Latest casualty is the new dvd replacement, blue
    ray I believe it's called. I haven't got one of these yet. I understand
    Europe uses a common cell phone protocol that makes life a lot easier
    for the user. It doesn't have to be government that dictates these
    things, industry groups can or should work it out.
    Dave Cohen
    dave cohen, Jul 1, 2009
  9. sarah bennett

    Paul Bartram Guest

    They should start with the common household power supply then. Different
    voltages and different pin configurations depending on where you are in the
    world. I have to use a clunky converter to make my Coolpix battery charger
    fit an Australian power socket!

    Paul Bartram, Jul 1, 2009
  10. sarah bennett

    ASAAR Guest

    Tsk, tsk. As for P&S cameras, most of my CoolPixen and all of the
    Fujis and Canons and one Panny use AA batteries. At anywhere from
    400 to over 1,000 shots per set really cheap alkalines suffice and
    can go many months before needing to be replaced. My DSLRs are
    another matter since I don't own any of the ones that use AAs
    natively. Most photographers use Li-Ion batteries in their DSLRs so
    the need for converters and power sockets can be a concern, albeit
    of the molehill variety. You may disagree, Sosumi! :)
    ASAAR, Jul 1, 2009
  11. sarah bennett

    SMS Guest

    China mandated USB jacks (Micro or Mini) a while back for low current
    It's not really practical for most cameras due to the fact that you're
    only guaranteed 500mA out of a powered USB 2.0 port (even though there's
    usually quite a bit of margin before the over-current protection shuts
    down the port). USB 3.0 has the capability of providing 900mA, which
    would be more practical, but only for smaller cameras since D-SLRs use
    an 7.4V two cell battery rathe than a single 3.7V cell.

    Personally, I won't buy a phone that doesn't use a USB jack for charging.
    SMS, Jul 1, 2009
  12. sarah bennett

    Pete D Guest

    My Mio C520 already does this.
    Pete D, Jul 1, 2009
  13. sarah bennett

    Paul Bartram Guest

    Unfortunately, my Coolpix 995 uses the EN-EL1 battery, so I have to use the
    supplied battery charger, which has US style pins. Luckily it will accept
    both 110v and 240v inputs so I can use it here.

    The previous model (990) used AA batteries.

    Paul Bartram, Jul 1, 2009
  14. sarah bennett

    Eric Stevens Guest

    Which government do you think should deal with the compatability
    problems of US and Australian power sockets?

    Eric Stevens
    Eric Stevens, Jul 1, 2009
  15. sarah bennett

    ASAAR Guest

    Clearly, the Duchy of Grand Fenwick.
    ASAAR, Jul 1, 2009
  16. sarah bennett

    SMS Guest

    It's interesting that so few cameras can even do in-camera charging of
    batteries. My old Canon G2 could do it, the Kodak I got for my mom (with
    a dock) could charge the Kodak proprietary dual NiMH AA pack, but few
    current models charge internally via either a proprietary or USB
    charger. Some of the toy Oregon Scientific cameras could charge via USB.
    What other current cameras have this capability?

    For the cheaper cameras with AA batteries it's not really practical
    because the camera would have to detect the type of batteries and decide
    whether it's a rechargeable or a disposable before charging. So you're
    adding costs to the camera for more sophisticated circuitry (but at
    least the USB jack) is already there. Charging a pair of 2500mA AA cells
    would take about 5 hours at 5V/500mA, while you can do it in 1/5 that
    time with a fast charger. You also have the issue that the AA batteries
    don't give you all that many pictures per charge and users like to swap
    them out and have one set charging while they're using the other set. I
    made the mistake of taking one of my Canon P&S AA cameras (A570IS) on a
    3 day backpacking trip rather than the SD800IS, and was taking batteries
    out of flashlights to get through the trip, I had forgotten how poorly
    AA batteries performed and thought the Energizer Lithiums would last
    longer than they did.

    For higher end P&S cameras with Li-Ion batteries you don't have the
    chargeable/disposable problem, but you still have the long charge time
    problem, though since a Li-Ion battery will give most people at least a
    days worth of photos, you can charge overnight where time isn't a big
    SMS, Jul 1, 2009
  17. Never going to happen. After all, while 99% of the world's countries
    agree on how to measure things like distance or volume or power there is
    one that steadfastly insists on doing it different. And that is just for
    virtual items, i.e. numbers that are printed on paper.

    Now imagine doing that for real things that exist in physical form like
    plugs and sockets.

    Never ever going to happen.

    Jürgen Exner, Jul 1, 2009
  18. sarah bennett

    ASAAR Guest

    Nonsense. There are many inexpensive chargers (about $15 or so)
    that autodetect the type of AA cell. Considering that $15 includes
    the store and the manufacturer's profit, the chip used in the
    charger probably costs less than $1.00, even with the relatively low
    sales volume of chargers. For the much more expensive cameras, the
    extra cost of this chip would be negligible.

    Wrong again. Charging is not 100% efficient and even the dullest
    battery "expert" should know this, as well as the industry rule of
    thumb that the real charging time is about 1.4 times the theoretical
    time which would make it 7, not 5 hours to charge your 2500mA cells.
    More nonsense, and you've been spouting this for claptrap for so
    many years that it's pretty obvious that you think nothing of lying.
    Repeatedly. What is it with your pro Li-Ion, anti-AA obsession?
    The A570 IS has *better* battery life than the SD800 IS, 400 shots
    per charge versus 270 for the SD800. But this is using the standard
    CIPA test that uses the flash for many shots at full power as well
    as the LCD display. On a backpacking trip it's much less likely
    that you'd use the flash, and since another of your often stated
    "must have" features is a viewfinder, you could even use alkaline AA
    cells to get 400 shots per pair of alkalines according to Canon.
    Lithiums would probably get you much closer to 1,000 shots.

    Saying "I had forgotten how poorly AA batteries performed" is
    another obvious lie. Do you expect anyone to believe that you'd
    forget what you've stated hundreds of time? You have your own
    "battery" website dedicated to proving the inferiority of AA cells
    vs. Li-Ion batteries. In fact, your website still repeats the
    whopper you first told us here a couple of years ago, that the A570
    IS gets only 10 shot per pair of fresh alkaline batteries.

    Another falsehood. Most of the replies reported the opposite. If
    there was even one reply that reported similar results it would
    *not* have been with the A570 or a similar camera, but with a camera
    that was *many* years older, when battery life was a serious problem
    with some poorly designed cameras. You repeated the "10 shots" claim
    several times and said that when your relative returned from the
    trip you'd check out the A570. You *never* told us what you found,
    but it's virtually impossible that the camera performed that poorly,
    unless your relative was so clueless that she used really cheap
    non-alkaline batteries and also (as is so typical of clueless
    photographers) had the camera set to fire the flash for all shots,
    even daytime landscapes. And then months after that you not only
    reported that the A570 IS was on sale (at Sears, I believe, "get 'em
    while you can"), you bought another A570 not long after that. Not
    very likely if the camera only got 10 shots per set of alkalines.

    What's a "days worth of photos"? If it's a couple hundred shots,
    I have several cameras that can get about that many shots every day
    for a week from NiMH rechargeables, and more than enough from
    alkalines to have one set last for your entire three day outing.
    The worst would last for two days per charge. If you bring your own
    AA charger, you know that they're available with all kinds of
    recharge time capabilities, from very slow chargers to models that
    take less than an hour or less to charge.
    ASAAR, Jul 1, 2009
  19. sarah bennett

    Bob Larter Guest

    I'd worry more about the voltage difference (240VAC vs 120VAC) than I
    would about the plug differences!
    Bob Larter, Jul 1, 2009
  20. sarah bennett

    SMS Guest

    There are probably no U.S. manufacturers of these devices, and the
    manufacturers would probable welcome some standardization. They make
    very little selling extra power supplies or cables.

    It would take more different power ports than many people realize to
    cover the many different voltages and currents needed for different
    devices, just as it would take more different "standard" Li-Ion packs
    than many people realize, unless they go to an "intelligent
    charger/power port" approach.

    The way it should work is for an industry group (to avoid anti-trust
    issues) to come up with a standard, using a smart charger that
    negotiates with the device for the proper current and voltage. But that
    would add cost versus the super-cheap power adapters we have now.

    As to USB charging, it works okay for things like phones, where the 3.7V
    Li-Ion batteries are usually well under 1000mAH. As I pointed out
    earlier, charging two 2500mAH AA batteries from a 500mA USB port would
    take longer than many people are willing to tolerate. Remember, two
    2500mA AA batteries have a nominal volttage of 2.4V. To charge them from
    a 5V/500mA USB port, with a DC-DC converter stepping the voltage down to
    about 3V and the current up to around 750mA (allowing for the conversion
    losses), you're going to take about 5 hours to charge them from fully
    discharged (charging is not 100% efficient of course, more like 60-70%).
    Of course since you usually won't be charging them from fully
    discharged, the time will be more like 3-4 hours, so it might be
    acceptable, but nothing like the present fast chargers. Since the
    "charge one battery while using the other battery" seems to be desirable
    for digital cameras, I don't think there's any rush to add several
    dollars of cost for a feature that few people care about. With USB 3.0's
    higher current, it becomes a little more practical to use the USB port
    as a power port.

    Almost no standard AA powered or Li-Ion cameras have internal charging
    capability from USB(actually I don't know of a single one!), though
    there have been cameras with internal chargers that were not USB based.
    The manufacturer would rather not spend anything extra for internal
    charging circuitry, as well as the circuitry to detect a rechargeable
    NiMH cell versus a lithium or alkaline cell, and be responsible for any
    problems. The way Kodak did the internal charging was that their
    proprietary two NiMH cell pack is physically different than two AA

    I added some information about USB charging the battery data web site.

    Let's keep congress out of this please.

    SMS, Jul 1, 2009
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