Thinking Tech

AT&T greens up mobile phone chargers

AT&T greens up mobile phone chargers

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AT&T's new ZERO mobile phone charger is leaner and greener. It's also a precursor to the Universal Charging Solution that all phone makers will be out with in 2012.

AT&T's ZERO charger

AT&T is going greener with its phone chargers, those annoying and wasteful necessities of digital life. The good news is we are moving toward the long overdue one size fits all when it comes to phone chargers.

AT&T's new ZERO mobile phone charger, which goes on sale in May for thirty bucks, promises to detect when the phone is detached and will shut itself off. In short, it can remain plugged into a wall socket and refrain from needlessly drawing power.

According to AT&T, power wasted on plugged in chargers could provide electricity for 24,000 homes for a year. AT&T's calculation is based on 277 million active U.S. cell phones (one phone = one charger) charging four times a week with 80 per cent leaving their charger plugged in.

You DO know a charger draws current when it's plugged in regardless of whether the phone is attached. The condition is appropriately nicknamed "vampire draw."

The ZERO charger is a precursor to the what the universal charger will look like when mobile phone makers come out with them in 2012 -- no more tangle of phone chargers in your shoulder bag or boxes of unused ones from long discarded phones.

The so-called Universal Charging Solution(UCS) specification being hammered by the Global System for Mobile Association promises to cut down the number of chargers manufactured each year by 50 per cent. UCS also will reduce greenhouse gases, a byproduct of manufacturing and transporting them. Fewer will hit land fills, either. It's all good.

The AT&T ZERO will support any mobile phone with a Micro USB port, the standard connector all phone makers have agreed to use in their UCS solutions.

Now if only laptop makers would do a universal power supply. They are available, but come cobbled with multiple connectors and wattages to accommodate the unique power supplies from each manufacturer.

One charger for all (devices)!

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John Dodge

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor John Dodge has written for the Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, PC Week (now eWeek), EDN, Design News, Electronic Business, Bio-IT World, Health-IT World, Lowell Sun, Haverhill Gazette and Newburyport Daily News. He is based in Massachusetts. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure