The days of having to use a different power supply unit (PSU) for every laptop could be drawing to a close with reports that the IEEE industry body is looking at the possibility of a universal standard.
Developments will likely be as slow as the similar plans for a universal mobile phone charger that has still to hit stores, but keen vendors are reported to include giants Acer and Asus. Any adoption by Taiwanese vendors would likely draw in larger US companies.
The barriers to a single PSU standard are formidable, starting with need to create an adaptor of sufficient quality to cope with different vendors' laptop power designs. The adaptors would inevitably cost considerably more to the consumer, who would have to buy them from specialist independents.
On the plus side adaptors would not need to be bought for every laptop. One PSU would last for years, working with successive machines. They could also work across devices such as tablets and netbooks as well as laptops. There would also be a reduction in e-waste as PSU are thrown away with every machine.
The losers would be the mostly Chinese vendors who churn out today's low-cost PSUs.