The USB implementation forum has demoed a solution that allows a monitor to charge a laptop. Obviously, both the monitor, a Lenovo Thinkvision product, and the laptop, an older generation Dell Latitude D630, were modified for the purpose of the demonstration.
In a nutshell, the monitor integrates a universal power supply unit that plugs into the USB port of the laptop. The latter had to be equipped with a circuit that allows for current to flow towards the Latitude’s battery. According to a spokesperson for the organization, the latest iteration of the USB will allow up to 100W to be transferred over wires.
This should be adequate for most laptops although those with dedicated graphics chips will almost certainly require more juice. In addition, USB-IF revealed that the new USB specification will allow transfer speeds of up to 10Gbps, a 100 per cent increase over the current value and a boost that allows it to compete more effectively with Intel’s Thunderbolt.
The ability of transfer power over wires combined with a much higher transfer speed are what our interlocutors at the USB-IF forum called killer features. Whether that will translate into mass market adoption remains to be seen. Part of the equation will be to convince device manufacturers to adopt the modified USB specification.
Should this move become widespread, there might come a day when proprietary power supplies will follow the way of the floppy disc drive, serial ports and 56K modems on laptops.
USB monitors – which were so promising - have unfortunately been plagued by poor sales figures. This caused Lenovo, LG and Samsung to cancel their respective SKUs although recently the likes of AOC and Philips have come up with USB monitors.