4 ways to improve USB

I love the Universal Serial Bus. It lets me connect, power and charge my gadgets. But laptop makers, peripheral makers and even car companies could make it much better by doing four simple things.

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1. Let me charge gadgets while the laptop is in sleep mode. Toshiba has a feature called Sleep-and-Charge, which does exactly that. Pericom Semiconductor Corporation offers what they call PowerNap technology to OEMs who would like to join Toshiba in offering this feature. It costs about a dollar per port. Laptop makers: Use it! 2. Watch where you put those USB ports. My Sony VAIO AW is a marvel of usability. But Sony decided to put one USB port on the left side about halfway back, and two ports on the right side way up front. What's good about this is that they're not in the back, which is where many laptop makers put USB ports. What's bad is that the ports on the right side create a problem for me when I'm using them. I typically use a wireless mouse, and I put the USB dongle part in the single left-hand port. But if I plug in my iPhone or other USB device on the right, it's in the way of where I want to be using my mouse. It would be better for the right-handed majority to put all three USB ports on the left. It wouldn't matter if there were an additional three on the right for the lefties. But for most of us, three ports on the left side is ideal. 3. Make it clearer which side is up. Most USB plugs don't clearly differentiate between the up side and the down side. Far too often, I try to plug in wrong side up, and fear damaging the port. Would it be too much to ask to clearly label the up side with the word "Up"? 4. Put it in my car. Cars have cigarette lighters, even though fewer than 20 percent of adults in the United States smoke cigarettes. Many who smoke don't do so in the car, and nearly all smokers carry lighters or matches anyway. A cigarette lighter is an absurdly obsolete thing to put in a car. From a technology point of view, my Toyota Prius is practically science fiction. When I want to charge my iPhone (which has lousy battery life and constantly needs recharging) in my car, I use the iPhone USB cable, plugged into the standard-outlet adaptor, which is plugged into the cigarette-lighter adaptor. Why do we need two adaptors to do some simple thing that pretty much everybody wants to do? No wonder Detroit needs a bailout. Anyway, I love the USB. But I'd love it more if companies used a little common sense in its application. Are YOU interested in location independent, digital nomad living? Please add this blog to your RSS reader and follow me on Twitter!

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