Recent developments in technology have led to new specifications for adapters, and more benefits for users of various mobile devices. Adapters have evolved considerably in the last few years, and there is no longer a need to carry around a collection of them for different purposes, or while travelling across countries. Advances in technology have led to different specifications and, in turn, new benefits when using a particular type of adapter, especially in the case of mobile devices and set-top boxes (STBs).
By Priyanka Kumari
An adapter is a device that converts the attributes of one electrical device or system to that of an otherwise incompatible device or system. While some modify power or signal attributes, others simply adapt the physical form of one electrical connector to another. An adapter can be referred to as a connector that changes the plug’s shape to match the outlet. Since it does not change the voltage or electrical output, a converter or a transformer is used in case the equipment requires a specific voltage. Let us look at some common types of adapters.
Travel adapter: When an electrical device with a unique plug needs to be used in another country that uses a different socket, an electric power adapter or a travel plug will come in handy. Though many countries use the same 230V system, connectors are used in case of any differences, in order to protect the device. An adapter does not convert electricity and simply allows a dual voltage appliance, a transformer or a converter from one country to be plugged into the wall outlet of another country. The voltage required depends on the device and country, for which there are several types of single as well as universal adapters.
Travel adapters come in various shapes and sizes, from small and simple single-region adapters to larger universal versions that cover most countries across the world. The universal ones are considered to be most convenient. In case the various electronic devices can be charged with a USB, it is an added bonus for travellers. Several companies make compact two- or four-socket USB travel adapters that help to charge multiple gadgets from the same wall socket.
Plug adapter: It is important to note that not all gadgets need a voltage converter and a simple plug adapter can be adequate. It allows you to use the device without the need to convert electricity, but the charger has to be rated at both voltages.
In India and China, the standard is 220V, in the US it is 120V, and in most of the European Union, the UK, Australia and Singapore the standard is 220V-230V. Japan uses 100V outlets. This means a gadget from India with a plug adapter can be used right away in most parts of the world, except the US and Japan, where a voltage adapter will be needed apart from a plug adapter.
AC adapter: Also called a power cube or recharger, the AC adapter is a small power supply that changes household electric current from the mains voltage (either 120V or 230V AC) to a low voltage suitable for most consumer electronic devices. AC adapters, AC/DC adapters, or AC/DC converters are external power supplies that are generally enclosed in a case similar to an AC plug. There are other common terms for them like a plug pack, plug-in adapter, adapter block, domestic mains adapter, line power adapter, wall wart, power brick and power adapter. These adapters are used for electrical devices that require power but do not have the sinternal components to draw the required voltage and power from the mains supply. Adapters for battery-powered equipment are described as chargers or rechargers.
Computer port adapters: For computers and related items, there are serial port adapters that enable connections between connectors. These do not affect electrical power and signalling related attributes.
LAN adapters: These are also often referred to as network interface cards, and are expansion boards used to connect a computer or computing device to a network.
Digital media adapter: This is used for receiving and viewing video content. It is a set-top box (STB) or dongle with inbuilt Wi-Fi that connects to a network, and has an HDMI port to plug into a television. It consists of operating systems, various applications and processors to assist streaming services. There are various types of media adapters like Apple TV, Google’s Chromecast, Fire TV, Roku, VIZIO Co-Star’s streaming STB and Netgear’s Neo TV STB.
USB Type-C cable: This cable brings the power of universal connectors to smartphones, laptops and other devices. It provides a way to standardise cables and connectors, enabling communication and power transfer between electronic devices.
Since all such cables are not safe and are known to damage the hardware of the device, it is important to choose the right USB Type-C cable. The good varieties are produced by using the deep draw extrusion method and, generally, the plug is made from a single metal with no seam visible on any side of it. It is advised not to use a stamped and folded connector and to always purchase a certified product. The USB-IF cable is tested rigorously and ensures that optimum quality is maintained.
Threaded adapters: These help to switch between different metric threads to suit specific application needs. Some also fit into knock-out holes on boxes and enclosures, and can be used with lock nuts. In addition to being a quick and easy solution, this adapter reduces or enlarges the thread size on any threaded connector or plug.
Other types of adapters: Some other types of adapters include the display port to high definition multimedia interface (HDMI) adapter, the HDMI to iOS device adapter, adapters for video graphics array (VGA) to older and new iOS devices, VGA to HDMI adapters, mini display port to VGA and HDMI adapters, as well as VGA to USB-C adapters.
Universal serial bus connectors (USBs) have become very popular, and are being widely used for sharing data, transmitting video and audio signals, and for charging electronic devices. In the consumer electronics industry, especially for smartphones and other mobile devices, Type C USB cable connectors are in demand.
Increased use of mobile devices like smartphones, personal digital assistants, tablets and laptops, due to greater Internet penetration, has raised the demand for cable connectors and adapters. A recent report by Transparency Market Research says that opportunities in the global cable connectors and adapters market will touch US$ 85.75 billion by 2022, rising at a CAGR of 7.8 per cent, between 2015 and 2022. Besides the rising expenditure on IT and telecom infrastructure, the global market will flourish because of new age technologies such as cloud computing, e-commerce, and high speed Internet.
Due to extensive digitalisation, especially in China and India, the Asia-Pacific region is considered to be the fastest growing market for adapters. With the use of STBs, smartphones, entertainment systems, high definition television (HDTV), widespread mobile computing and the rising number of data centres in the region, the Asia-Pacific region is expected to grow to a significant 40 per cent of the global market by 2022.
“Fast-charging and dash-charging chargers are becoming popular”
EB: What is the main difference between adapters for mobile devices and set-top boxes?
An adapter is used for any electronic device that does not have a battery in it. For mobile devices, the right term is a ‘charger’. Since STBs do not have batteries in them, the word ‘adapters’ ought to be used. This is a common mistake, with several leading companies currently using the word ‘adapter’ instead of mobile charger.
EB: What are the major types of adapters and chargers that you manufacture?
We manufacture general-purpose adapters, CCTV camera power supplies, power supplies for LED strips, AC-DC mobile chargers and DC-DC car chargers for mobiles, among others. In addition to providing consultancy for any specific product required to be developed with particular voltage and current specifications, we work as original equipment manufacturers for several leading companies.
EB: What are the latest technologies used to manufacture chargers for mobile devices and adapters for set-top boxes?
Among the new technologies that have been developed in recent times, fast-charging and dash-charging chargers have gained huge popularity. Chargers for mobile devices have different protocols and specify the value of current to be given to the mobile phone, which ultimately determines the time required to charge a mobile phone battery. Previously, the protocol used in mobile devices was BC1.0, which gave a current of not more than 1 ampere at 5 volts and took a longer time compared to today’s charging technology.
Currently, most of the phones and chargers are based on the BC1.2 protocol, which gives current up to 3 amperes. This increases the charging rate by up to 50 per cent. But for these protocols, two resistors are added across the USB data pins to support all phones. Hence, a data cable instead of a charging cable is required to charge the mobile device at a faster rate. Recently, Qualcomm introduced its 2.0, 3.0, 4.0 and 4.0+ ICs, which result in 80 per cent faster charging. This quick-charge technology is being used in the Samsung mobile device chargers.
The other new technology, known as dash-charge, has been introduced by companies like Oppo and OnePlus to charge their mobile phones even faster. Instead of using the traditional 5 volts to charge its mobile devices, Samsung uses 9 volts and 1.5 amperes for fast charging. It is to be noted that even if Samsung’s charger is used for mobile phones from any other brand, the device will get charged at 5 volts only since the mobile charger can output both 5V and 9V, as the adapter specifications indicate. However, according to the specifications given by OnePlus, at 5 volts and 4 amperes, it has increased the current to charge its phones.
Both types of chargers perform well.
EB: What are the benefits of these technologies over traditional products?
These new technologies can be used to charge the mobile device from 0 to 100 per cent nearly three times faster than traditional technologies. These technologies are known to charge mobile devices from 0 to 50 per cent in less than 15 minutes, thus saving a lot of time.
EB: What are the growth drivers of the charger and adapter market?
Since the current technology used in chargers is complex, growth is being driven by companies like Qualcomm, which are designing new and sophisticated ICs for chargers.
The various components used to manufacture traditional adapters were very commonly available but with the new technologies, ICs have emerged as an integral component. Thus, for increased manufacturing of fast-charging adapters, such ICs should be made easily available or else only bigger companies will rule the market.
Some products available in the market
|Product: MC-USB2A, Manufacturer: Verto Corporations|
|This micro-USB electric and travel adapter can be used for iPh4, iPh3, iPad2, iPod and all micro-USB-supported smartphones, among other electronic devices.
Contact details: www.vertocorporations.com
|Product: AC-DC adapters, Manufacturer: Qualtek Electronics Corp|
|These adapters are certified by global safety agencies including Energy Star Level V, the European ErP Directive and NRCan.
Contact details: www.qualtekusa.com
|Product: Ceptics World Travel Adapter Kit, Manufacturer: Ceptics|
|This travel adapter is equipped with two outlets that can be used in the US, two USBs and micro USB cables. It can be used for mobile phones, the iPhone, iPad, laptops and other devices in many countries across the globe. It can charge five devices with a single outlet.
Contact details: www.ceptics.com
|Product: USB Type-A to USB Type-C adapters, Manufacturer: OWC|
|These adapters connect USB Type-A devices to computers and hubs that have a USB Type-C port. While USB Type-C is the latest USB interface standard, it is the USB Type-A that is the most ubiquitous connector in use, and the two are not compatible – so these adapters bridge this connectivity gap.
Contact details: www.owcdigital.com
|Product: MC-TYPEC-2A, Manufacturer: Verto Corporations|
|This fast-charging charger can be used for Gionee S6, Marathon M5 Plus, Microsoft Lumia 950 XL, LG Nexus 5X, OnePlus 2, Xiaomi Mi 4c, Mi 5, Huawei Nexus 6P, LeEco Le 1s, Le 2, Le 2 Pro, Le Max 2 and all Type-C compatible devices. It comes under the travel charger category.
Contact details: www.vertocorporations.com