Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Electronic Devices

I admit it. I like technology. I always have, and my job is great -- I get paid for working with technology every day. At least it's great until the research clusters go belly-up, but that's not often. We deal with open hardware standards, and open-source software as much as we are able, and things tend to work well across platforms.

Not so with home electronics.

There are four cell phones on our plan and only two of them use the same charger. I use a PDA, and while it was made by Dell, its charger is different from the Dell mp3 player (a previous PDA used the same charger as the mp3 player). We have two different chargers on our laptops, and the landline phones (cordless) have different chargers. My son's Ipod Nano uses a different charging cord, and I got one for myself. So at least we can share charging cords, if needed.

Last week I decided to extend my indenture to AT&T by upgrading my phone to a Samsung Blackjack. It's a "smart phone" and serves quite nicely as a PDA as well as a phone. It synchronizes to my university Exchange account and my gmail account, and I can actually type rather than use the stylus. (Well, it DOES increase the "fat-finger" problem...) But does it use the same charger as ANY of my existing devices? That's right. It is a different charger, but at least it is fairly convenient, as it spends part of the day tethered to the laptop where it can charge as it transfers data, and they included a second battery and charging unit.

The device count has gone down by one, and the charger count has gone up by one, so I guess it is a wash. Wouldn't it be great if all the manufacturers could get together on chargers. They all seem to be in the 5 volt DC neighborhood. Personally, I like the Motorola RAZR charger, which uses a miniature USB connector for its charger. Since the USB standard (note the word "standard") provides for power as well as data transfer, this shouldn't be like sending an astronaut to Mars.

Any chance of this happening? I doubt it...

Now, what am I going to do with all the obsolete devices?

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