You can use USB cables to charge phones, tablets, media players, and all sorts of other gadgets. One day you may also be able to charge a laptop using a USB cable. The USB Implementer’s Forum has adopted a new standard for USB Power Delivery which supports delivering up to 100W via a USB cable.

In other words, you may eventually be able to use the same cable to charge your laptop and your smartphone.

Laptop USB power

Laptop Magazine caught up with the folks at USB-IF at CES last week, and got a look at a laptop that had been retrofitted with support for a shiny new USB Power Delivery system.

What’s cool is that the laptop was able to both draw power and send data over the same cable. So by hooking it up to the USB port on a monitor, the laptop is powered by the display — and at the same time it’s sending images and video to the same display.

While laptop makers will probably continue to ship power supplies with laptops for the foreseeable future, eventually you may get  a power brick and  a USB cable instead of a power brick and a special cable with a tip that only fits your brand of laptop. And that means you’ll be able to use that same brick to charge your phone, tablet, or other devices when you’re not using it to power or charge your laptop.

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11 replies on “One day you may be able to charge a laptop with a USB cable”

  1. I can pretty much do this already: it’s called my Nexus 7. I can do 90% of my productivity and entertainment with an Android tablet. Their capabilities are likely to surpass notebooks long before this hits the market.

  2. I would love to see when this thing is going to implement in laptop. I would love to carry simple charger like mobile charger for laptops.

  3. Are power requirements negotiated? Say, you only have a 36W charger assuming that’s allowed and the 100 W max is optional. Now you have a laptop that came with a 100W charger but you don’t have it for some reason. Will the laptop negotiate with the 36W charger and charge while drawing only up to 36W?

    1. They should be because this already works with lower-powered USB chargers.
      At least I can use the charger of the TouchPad interchangeably with the Galaxy S2 and those two have a huge difference in battery size/power and I haven’t seen any extra heat or degradation from the S2 even though I have been charging it this way for a couple of months.

  4. Yes, definitely looking forward to this. The will help to eliminate more proprietary cables and will make it easier for international travelers (airports increasingly have charging ports that use USB and I can imagine that international hotels would too). The current laptop charging situation is completely ridiculous!! But, then this also applies to a lot of portable devices (think about shavers, etc) that don’t draw a lot of power.

  5. For something that had differently shaped plugs to make sure there was no shorts, USB has gotten very complicated…

  6. I can see stupid people trying to charge their phones with a 12v charger for a laptop and having it explode. Unless they charge laptops with 3V at higher current and convert it inside the laptop…

    1. iirc most USB devices are meant to have protection circuitry so up to 20V coming in won’t harm them (used to protect against ESD), whether they actually have that or not is another matter.

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