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Hardware fix for Dell “AC power adapter could not be determined” (project-insanity.org)
146 points by onny 43 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 119 comments



Dell Laptop PSUs has this for at least 15 years. Internally it use a DS2501 to store the manufacturer, wattage, output voltage, output current, Dell SN and check sum. It is more like EDID for power supplies, it is definitely not DRM. It helps the laptop to understand how much wattage it can get from the PSU to avoid over heating, and use the output voltage to determine whether it is safe to use it to charge the battery.

The content is something like `DELL 01 AC 065 195 033 {23bytes} 01`, where 01 matches the revision number on the label of the PSU, 065 means it is a 65 watts adapter, 195 means the output voltage is 19.5V, 033 means the output current is maxed at 3.3A. The {23bytes} contains the country where it is produced, the Dell part number and date codes which I don't have enough data to understand how that is coded.

There was a github project which provided tools to copy and reprogram the chip, HP follows a similar protocol for its high end laptops, it is possible for a Dell laptop to use a HP PSU, if the BIOS is not implemented correctly.


Which I guess is among the things usb-c power delivery covers as well.

Usn-c for charging, despite its warts, are quite the game-changer. Especially in these absurd times where batteries are non-replacable being able yo juice-up from a power bank is fantastic. (yes you could do that before but it was very niche and/or expensive and with less utility).


Side note: integrated batteries are still replaceable if you're handy. (Though not quickly swappable like you're suggesting for more energy capacity over a single day!)

On the MacBook Pro I'm typing on right now, I replaced my the battery myself a few months ago. It took about an hour including a thorough cleaning of the laptop internals and I documented it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAYFDDxUxHA . That's still 59.9 minutes longer than it would have taken if had a modular battery, but about the same price in dollars. And a fun little weekend project.


Where did you get your replacement battery from? I was looking into replacing my battery, and my options for sourcing the part appear to be Amazon or iFixIt. The former’s reviews are show a number of people complaining that the part they received was of poor quality and barely held a charge (although this might be a vocal minority? Hard to tell). The latter is almost the price of just getting Apple to do it in the country I reside. What route did you take?



I've replaced my 2012 MBA battery a couple times now. Totally worth the ~$50 and 10 minutes it takes. Damn thing is a personal workhorse 8 years later.


Something I discovered the other day, while looking for a high-wattage Dell USB C adapter to use with my older XPS 15 (which came with just a old-school charger, so it doesn't get full juice out of most other USB C ones) is that the new 130W Dell USB-C charger only shows up as 90W on an older one like mine.

Looking around, stuff like this isn't uncommon. Apparently a lot of HP's won't work with non-HP USB C chargers at all, for instance.


That's probably because USB c only goes up to 100w for power delivery. Anything higher must be manufacturer specific, so I guess dell hasn't provided any updates for thee older xps to understand the new charger's protocol thing. Not great, but probably not malicious.

I had a xps 15 with 130w charger, and used it with the dell usb-c/thunderbolt docks (wd15/tb16). The wd15 had a 130/180 watt power supply option, after subtracting for the dock's power usage they were specified to provide 90/130w to the laptop. I had the 130 watt wd15 and it still worked perfectly with the laptop. The laptop never discharged while connected (maybe if you spend hours compiling a big project on 8 cores while playing games with the nvidia card?). But I assume it would charge slower/not at all if under heavy load. And the bios warning for a lower power adapter can be disabled.

It should be capable of taking 130w over the USB c port; dell explicitly specifies that it should be used with the 180/240w wd15/tb16 docks which provide 130w to the laptop. XPS 15 9560 iirc.


I guess it's possible to build something similar to this, but for Dell: https://www.tindie.com/products/mikepdiy/lenovo-charging-por...


Yep, I've worked from coffee shops and in trans-European trains where I couldn't get a power lead. No matter, a 25,000 mAh battery is sure to get you through the day. USB-C charging is absolutely fantastic.


Or do something like charge one phone from another.



Yeah, that sounds about right. I was working for a call centre providing support for Dell at the time, and the year before this was introduced we had a LOT of customers who got their laptops fried by dodgy chargers.

I'm not qualified to answer whether the ID pin constitutes DRM, and whether it is legal or not, but Dell's customers definitely were having issues with dodgy chargers before this was implemented. The implementation sucks though, as the design means it's easy to short the ID pin, rendering the charger useless.


Oh man, I had the chart which could decode dell part numbers and date codes, you explained it perfectly.

Let me see if I could dig it up...


Got a link to the github project?


>t is definitely not DRM.

It is definitely functionally DRM since it prevent using other suitable chargers for no reason.


Not only DRM.


Doesn't DRM means they tried hard to stop you from clone it? Any hobbyist can get a sample chip from Maxim, clone the data from the original PSU and write it to the new chip.

I agree it should be an open standard, but the implementation is really similar to EDID. As we are moving forward with USB-C power supplies, this is probably going to be irrelevant very soon.


“Any hobbyist can circumvent it” is a poor test to determine if something is a DRM though, most DRMs pass this test too, since most of them are vulnerable to the “analog loophole”.


> The content is something like `DELL 01 AC 065 195 033 {23bytes} 01`

Are they doing that trademark hack thing where they threaten 3rd party manufacturers who put that "DELL" string in their product without a license?


That's ridiculous. What the hell kinda court would accept that claim? The packet is clearly 0x44 0x45 0x4c 0x4c 0x01 0x41 0x43 0x65 0xc3 0x21 <23 bytes> 0x01!


Are you being sarcastic? I unfortunately can't find a source as the exact case is escaping my memory at the moment, but this was successfully argued in court that a third party using "TRADEMARK" in a chip (which is checked by the DRM system) was a violation of their trademark.


https://segaretro.org/TradeMark_Security_System

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sega_v._Accolade

I read it like Sega was on their way to losing the appeal, so they settled it out of court.


Even if it doesn't hold up in court, it may still be a deterrent to any company looking to produce compatible parts. Shipments of their product could very plausibly be stopped at customs then held up for years until the court case is won.


That's exactly what Apple does to prevent other companies to sell computers with MacOS on them![1]

[1]: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psystar_Corporation#Legal_is...


It as DRM as Printer cartridges or Keurig 2.0 K-Cup[1]

[1]https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8726707


Yes, I'm sure it has nothing at all to do with forcing customers to buy OEM chargers for $119 a piece plus tax and shipping instead of buying a generic one for $30.


If a company is making a "Generic" charger using a proprietary connector(only used by Dell in this case), it is their responsibility to make sure it works. Otherwise, it is a bad quality knock-off.


If someone is making a dell-specific charger, I can see that. But generic chargers usually have interchangeable tips, and they should not need to embed a different chip inside each one of them.


I don't like the proprietary protocol, but actually there is a good reason for this communication between the charger and the laptop.

There are multiple charges with the same barrel jack, but different wattage. You plug a low wattage power adapter to a high powered laptop. Without the chip: The laptop can draw to much power and in the best case scenario it damages your power adapter, in worts case damage your laptop or burns down your house. With the chip: the laptop can throttle, so it draws less power.

USB Power Delivery does the same thing, just without the properitary protocol.


> in the best case scenario it damages your power adapter

The best case scenario is that your charger is not a garbage fire hazard, and so it slowly drops the voltage when the laptop tries to draw too much.


A barrel connector is hardly proprietary.


Now solder that component into an adapter that goes between your jack and your third party power supply, and I'd buy it.

I don't even want to use illegit power supplies. Rather, I have a growing pile of genuine Dell ones (and jacks) that developed intermittent connections on that pin and no longer detect as authorized.


At risk of kicking in an open door: have you tried using contact spray? I own a can of contact cleaner 390 by Kontakt Chemie (I'm sure other brands work similarly effectively) and that stuff is basically magic for intermittent contacts. So far I've used it to repair a buttload of wonky plugs, corroded battery contacts, as well as all the switches and volume knobs on my 40 year old amplifier. the volume knob still amazes me most. it went from an awful crackly mess to perfectly smooth and it still is perfect 5 years later.

Anyways long story short: give contact spray a try. Worst case the contacts are deformed too badly and it wont work.


I usually end up replacing the jack (female) in the laptop first due to rough handling.

The plug wiggles and doesn't make a good connection.


This could actually be done with just a tiny programmable mcu, like an AVR. Interesting proposition indeed!


Does anyone have good recommendations for general office laptops? My company bought about 10 Dell laptops and about half of them have a problem in which they randomly shut off due to some thermal issue. Dell has given us a hard time with the problem and have replaced some of the laptops with new laptops that have had the same problem.


Which Dell laptops did you buy?

Dell manufactures the whole spectrum of laptop quality, from cheap Walmart garbage to high-end mobile workstations. If you buy their consumer-grade stuff, yeah, it's often junk. But their business- and professional-oriented laptops are usually decent quality. Latitude and Precision, for example. I have both of those and they've been workhorses for me.

Mid-range Thinkpads would also be a fairly safe bet.


They are f%%%ing overheating. Latitudes, Precisions, Alienwares, HPs ZBooks and Elitebooks, all of them have a barely good enough heatsink on the CPU, and often GPU. I dunno about Lenovos, tbf.

Having those chips run at 95+ degrees most of the time (when doing serious work for which the laptops were designed) and depending on Intel's built in thermal throttling (A. Last. Resort. Measure!) is ridiculous.

Dell has even been smartassing it with lower throttle thresholds, god forbid they use better cooling instead.

But hey, they save £1 on every heatsink, so F U, buy a new laptop when this one breaks!

Frankly I am sick of this. Just make proper heatsinks, I can personally come and shove a £2 coin up yours, thanks.


While the MacBook Pro thermals are not frequently lauded for many of the same reasons, the metal unibody does make an effective heatsink. I'm not sure why that isn't standard with every expensive-ish laptop, given that most of the advantages of ThinkPad-style plastic are gone these days (since modern laptops aren't user-serviceable anyway).


> I'm not sure why that isn't standard with every expensive-ish laptop

I don't know about you, but I prefer my laptop to stay cool enough to stay on my lap and be able to type on. Plastic is a good enough insulator to keep the heat away from me, and it's pretty easy to find laptops with adequate heatsinks.


I've a precision 5530. On paper it's a lovely machine. In practice, lots of graphics issues, docking station issues where screens flicker, etc. It's such a shame for something so costly. It's a work laptop, I'd have returned it long ago if I'd purchased it myself.


I have a 5520, so, the generation before.

Specced the heavens, max memory, ECC, Xeon.

I also had issues with the dock, but it was exclusively the dock, the TB16 is a flaming hunk of garbage that has no business being on my desk.

The issues mostly stem from the fact that the USB controller (which powers nearly everything in the dock) is shockingly terrible.

But, regardless, there are more issues because the 5520 (and probably 5530) have only 2PCIe lanes to the thunderbolt port. I was surprised to learn that "thunderbolt3" != "thunderbolt3" in all cases.

I have a 5k laptop that is a buggy pile of trash because someone tried to save a dollar on a USB controller.

Honestly if I could lug this thing at Michael Dells' head I would do so I'm so frustrated.

But anyway, the laptop by itself is fantastic, it does get toasty under full load but I tend to disable the GPU so it's bearable. I considered getting the new WD19 thunderbolt dock before I realised about the thunderbolt PCIe lanes.


It sucks when something good gets gutted for seemingly inconsequential cost savings. I bought a precision M6600 back in 2012. It went all over the world with me for work. I had it replaced with an M6700 in 2015 100% under warranty when the GPU let out the magic smoke.

Since then the one I have has been rock solid. I just gifted it to my kiddo b/c it's overkill for my current role. I will miss all of the jokes about my space heater though. Nothing will unify a group of 30 of my colleagues more than jeering me as I draw that beat up 17" coffee table from my backpack like some kind of nerd excalibur.

(Also more to the point I've experienced OP's issue a few times with it over the years.)


We use thousands of Dell pro laptops (Latitude, Precision). They often release BIOS updates to fix these types of issues, which also include the latest remediation for Intel vulnerabilities. They've got a tool to automatically download and update their drivers stack: https://www.dell.com/support/article/en-us/sln311129/dell-co...


IT people supposedly historically have had the best luck with Lenovo, in particular with respect to frequency of problems and handling of problems when they do occur. I just bought a Lenovo Yoga as my first Lenovo laptop and it's my favorite I've ever owned and the only one I like over my last MacBook Pro and Air.



Many people, including myself, like Thinkpad laptops. And by Thinkpad I mean Thinkpad, not any laptop from Lenovo.

I have personally purchased three generations of the Thinkpad X1 Carbon over the years. I know the Thinkpad T4?? are popular also.


Thinkpad are not what they used to be, they're not "terrible" but the Latitude series runs circles around them in terms of upgradability, build quality and software support.

I would rather buy a new HP Elitebook or Dell Latitude than anything from Lenovo at this point.


Apart from the x1 gen 7 bad Linux support, pretty much every other thinkpad Linux support has been excellent.


What is the problem with gen 7 ? https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Lenovo_ThinkPad_X1_Carb... looks ok to me ?


Software support meaning Linux?


Not just linux, OpenBSD/FreeBSD too.

But yes, they support Windows well enough.

There's also the whole Superfish incident, injecting malware to the OS from the BIOS is scary- and while it did not affect the Thinkpad line specifically I am increasingly wary of the company because of it.

And since the hardware is so hard to service these days, and (soldered components, plastic clips) and it isn't very special either there's not enough "appeal" to suade my opinion in their favour.


Lenovo laptops are still way more serviceable than the alternatives. Its getting worse, granted, over time.


Maybe it's just me, but I find the serviceability of Thinkpads subpar. This one is from the T420's maintenance manual:

    1170 Fan assembly
    For access, remove these FRUs in order:
    * “1010 Battery pack” on page 67
    * “1020 ExpressCard blank bezel” on page 68
    * “1050 DIMM slot cover” on page 73
    * “1070 PCI Express Mini Card for wireless WAN” on page 75
    * “1080 Keyboard” on page 77
    * “1110 PCI Express Mini Card for wireless LAN” on page 85
    * “1120 Keyboard bezel assembly, FPC cable, and Bluethooth daughter card” on page 87
    * “1150 Speaker assembly” on page 95
    * “1160 LCD unit” on page 97
https://thinkpads.com/support/hmm/hmm_pdf/t420_t420i_hmm.pdf


I have the feeling that the "legendary thinkpad serviceability" means two things: the document that you cite is publicly available and that customer disassembling the whole thing and replacing one subassembly is supported way of solving warranty claims.

And by the way, the "good thinkpad" series (ie. letter + two numbers) were both made and designed by Acer/Wistron and significantly mechanically simpler than the previous IBM designed thinkpads (eg. if you disassemble "low-cost" 600E, you end up with ~10 random-ish machined aluminium brackets and how to disassemble the thing is highly non-obvious).


For most business line notebooks the maintenance guide is publicly available and you don't have to remove the speakers and lcd screen to access the fan assembly (serious, wtf?). Thinkpad serviceability is overrated, it's certainly not "legendary", even if you can consider it decent.


My point was that it’s not actually more serviceable than a Dell Latitude or HP Elitebook.

iFixit regularly rate those devices 10: https://www.ifixit.com/laptop-repairability


98% of users aren't going to care about Linux support. That should be relevant only if they happen to need it.


I'm on my 2nd dud in 2 years Lenovo has ruined ThinkPad.


My workplace mainly uses HP equipment. The HP Probook line seems pretty solid from whats I've seen so far.

Also they are the only manufacturer so far IIRC which include a 'Pre-boot DMA Protection' option in the BIOS which helps mitigate the Thunderbolt 3 DMA attack


usb-c on the XPS just says it's less then ideal wattage (if that's the case) and still charges.


The USB-C laptops just use straight up USB-PD, thankfully, and don't have any DRM or other controls. I've charged my USB-C XPS 13 off an assortment of Apple, Dell, and generic chargers.


Yeah, USB-C is the way to go from now on regarding this issue. Using proprietary chargers needs to die.


My Lenovo came with a charger rated for 135 watts. USB-PD maxes out at 100.


They’re going to need to fix that with PD; my MBP occasionally exceeds the 100W adapter I use, causing the battery to drain.


Dell has 130 watts chargers/docks over usb-c connectors, guess it's not standard PD then.


But then you get the nightmare that is cpu throttling, don't you? Had the same experience with a precision.


How would I test that?

I only use it for travel and watching movies. There as a short "brain freeze" when plugging it in, but it continues to work normally.

The hardest part was finding a USB charger that:

- has decent wattage

- is not expensive

- also charges non-c USB

- does not explode (and bring down the whole trains outlets...)

- throttles/splits current (instead of running hot, shutting down and leaving your equipment uncharged for the night...)

I settled on this one: https://www.amazon.de/gp/product/B07PR8LDGL/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_...

Only downside: no qualcom quickcharge 3.0 for the non-c USBs


>How would I test that?

On windows you can use CPU-Z, on linux look up for some command line solution.


I'm on windows :)

Didn't do heavy load testing, but see the same ~2800mhz on AC/battery/usb-c (it's an i5-6300HQ)


Throttling got better with every revision of the XPS 15 that I had. On 9550 it was abysmal - sudden downclocks to 800 Mhz, mouse cursor starting to lag and making the laptop unusable. On 9560 it got mostly fine, with occasional downclocks to 800 Mhz, but much less frequent. With my current 9570 it's all good, I can use it on any charger starting from 45 watts and it's working fine.


I was bit by this issue once. I was still using the original charger. The issue wasn't anything wrong with the pin, but the power port had been slightly pushed inward. Had to crack it open and solder it to the frame.

I don't buy dell laptops for this exact hardware flaw.


Similar issue about 2 months ago. When plugging the power in, it seems I introduced the cable at an angle and the pins inside the port caused a short. Fortunately, nothing was irreparably damaged. Had to dissasemble the port, unbend the pins into their correct position, and plugged them in again. Didn't realize that was the problem until I had dissasembled the port and thoroughly checked it, so those were quite a few minutes of panic!


I can second that, it really turned me off to Dell's I switched from a high end Dell to a Sager for this exact issue.


Newer Dell laptops charge via USB-C PD, and work with any compliant charger you'd like. Actually that's not quite true - I believe they require 20V support, and like most things USB C, just because its "USB C PD" compliant, doesn't mean it supports 20V (most OEM phone chargers dont, for example).


What's funny is MacBooks don't require 20V. I've never tried with an iPhone charger, but I've definitely charged MacBooks overnight with a common 12W iPad charger (using one of those USB-A-to-C cables).


Yeah, I think MacBooks work fine via even via 5V chargers (albeit slowly). Would be nice if Dell followed their lead.


Proprietary technology slows us down and increases waste.


But it also increases customer lock in which increases profits. Apple loves to do this.


It starts out being Dell then switches to HP? Something funky about that article.


Don't know what the issue was, but HP and Dell supplies are the same, they'd be interchangeable if not for the smart charge features.


ups thanks fixed the typo


Dell PSUs are the worst. My wife's XPS 13 PSU went bad after just 4 years of use. I bought a Chinese replacement for a fraction of the cost. No drm issues yet


4 years isn't a bad lifetime for a laptop PSU. I know I kill the cables on mine way before the 4 year mark.


One of the underrated facts of USB-PD; replaceable cables. No need to replace the brick if the insulation frays.


The PSU itself is supposed to last way longer though... Never had a laptop PSU die on me until the laptop actually dies first for unrelated reasons.


I don't get what people are doing to break PSUs or cables. I've never fried a laptop PSU nor destroyed a cable in, whatever, 2 decades of laptops?

I am willing to accept that cables can get damaged, but I don't think a PSU outright failing is something we should accept as "normal". Unlike cables, their longevity shouldn't be related to physical handling.


Did the cable break? I had two PSUs with a broken cable after extensive usage.


Wait... won't it still think every adapter is 90W, even if you plug in a 65W adapter?


There is a disclaimer that mentions this.


My dell died recently and I wasn't sure why, since all the components that I could check were working. It seemed like the thing just had no power. I sent it for recycling after stripping some parts, but now I wonder if this was the issue I had. I didn't get a Dell for my replacement, so I'm happier now with a lighter, nicer computer anyways.


Do we really need DRM for AC power adaptors?


I'd argue it's not really DRM, it's more like device identification. Nearly all modern laptop power supplies do this in some way. HP and Lenovo ones use a resistor on the extra pin, while Dell has put a 1-wire memory chip.

The main reason for this is so that different wattage power supplies can be used with the same connector. The laptop determines the power supply type to see if it can safely draw its full load.

USB-C takes this one step further by having a full negotiation process before supplying any of a number of voltage / wattage levels.


> I'd argue it's not really DRM, it's more like device identification.

I suppose the key question is: Does it identify the device and then decide not to work with non-Dell devices? It's fine to read required information, but unnecessarily constraining what happens based on that information brings it back to DRM.


It's not an open standard so this isn't really meaningful. The data has to be formatted a specific way, the Dell way that is, but it's not signed or anything.


The charger is just letting the load side know what it can supply... There are tons of cheap charges that are specified to supply 65 watts but will happily provide more than that until they melt or light the floor on fire..


The kinda-standard way to solve this problem is:

The power supply is "constant current, constant voltage" - ie. it is 19 volts for all currents under 3 amps, but if you try to exceed 3 amps, it will supply exactly 3 amps at whatever voltage that works out to.

The benefit of this scheme is it's super easy to implement on both sides, and fully universal - the device just keeps increasing the current draw till the voltage starts to drop, and it then knows it's hit the limit. The device doesn't need any kind of logic at all - a dumb light bulb will either work if there is enough power, or not work if there isn't, but nothing will get damaged.

It's also compatible with Y splitters - so you can plug in two laptops to the supply, with no extra electronics, and both can share the power. (there is no guarantee of even power splitting tho!)

A big benefit is the power supply can have fully variable capabilities - for example, most power supplies are thermal limited, and on a cold day it could offer slightly more current to charge your battery slightly faster - all without any digital logic, protocols, or anything manufacturer specific.

Anything more complex with sense resistors, ID chips, extra wires, etc. just costs more, and provides less utility, and almost looks like a deliberate attempt to reduce compatibility and increase sales of chargers.


Unfortunately this only works if the load device is compatible with the full voltage supplied. This is not the case for USB devices, for instance.


HP and Lenovo ones use a resistor on the extra pin, while Dell has put a 1-wire memory chip.

The resistor setup is both simpler, and unlike the memory chip, can't easily be repurposed for DRM.


Of course not. This is just yet another excuse for a vendor to lock you in.


I'm not sure the intent of that identification chip is DRM. There are several kinds of power adapter (at least 65W and 90W, though I've been told in another comment at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23292819 that there's also 130W, 180W and 230W), all using the same plug; that identification chip allows the embedded controller to know how much power it is guaranteed to get from the power supply, and if it's enough to charge the battery.


It’s more than working vs not working. The power management on the laptop will presumably adjust its charging speed to avoid overloading the power supply.


No, and it will probably not hold up in Europe.


It did held up at least to some extent laptops that have bigger desktop setup high power and smaller lower power travel adapters needed additional data to identify the type of charger, some would default to lower power settings for adapters that aren’t original OEM parts, some won’t work.

With USB type-c chargers it became more or less redundant although the USB type-c power spec implementation is all over the place with many cables and chargers on the market capable of ruining your devices completely.

This isn’t as much of a DRM as a reliability measure if you are going to use cheap power adapters you are quite likely to be able to ruin your laptop.

There are plenty of 3rd party adapters that can send the correct signal to a Dell laptop, those who can’t usually will power the system but not charge the battery simultaneously.

With USB type-C many adapters would charge the laptop at 60W instead of the 100-130W that original Dell adapters can, some of the certified USB type-c docking stations/adapters would be able to charge it at full rate if they are actually capable of delivering the current required.

Not everything is done because vendors want to lock you in, laptops now are smaller and power hungrier than ever and people want to charge their laptops at full rate with cables that could barely charge a phone.

With USB-C things will mostly work but will work slower I can charge my MBP 15” with my Nintendo Switch power adapter it will just take longer and likely will cause the Switch adapter to die the few times I had to do it I’ve noticed the adapter cosplaying as a heating plate while charging the Mac.


Yes because batteries and power adapters can kill you and/or cause a fire.

There was an engineer who showed how shoddy many phone chargers are and how dangerous they could be.


This is addressed by product approvals and safety standards. Apple, Dell or BestBuy aren’t going to be selling knockoff chargers. If other stores are selling counterfeit products that don’t comply with approvals/standards they should face fines and criminal charges.


Interesting hypothesis, but it doesn't explain the pattern.

That's also true of a million other categories of dangerous equipment, and yet almost none of them lock out competitors by using proprietary interfaces. A shoddy saw blade could kill me, too, but I still can go buy any blade from any manufacturer and put it in any table saw, and it'll work.

OTOH, there are gratuitous incompatibilities galore as soon as you get into software. Network protocols, file formats, executable formats, and so on.

What could explain the situations where we see compatibility versus incompatibility? If it's obvious and visible, and Average Joe can make it fit (like with a hammer), they go ahead and make it compatible. If it's secret and internal and they can hide the differences in ways that Average Joe can't work around (like software), they feel free to make it as incompatible as possible.


So what does that have to do with DRM? That's what products liability suits are for. You sue the maker of the shoddy battery/charger. DRM can't protect you from that -- what happens when you buy the whole device from the shoddy vendor?

edit: Yes, of course some of the vendors will be gone or judgment proof. So don't buy from disreputable vendors. Which brings us back to the original problem -- if the user is willing to buy from them, they could just as easily be buying an entire laptop or a toaster for their kitchen. So solve it the way you solve those instead of stamping out competition, because you need to solve those anyway.

Or put it another way: If OEMs really wanted to solve this, they would stop overcharging so much for chargers and battery replacements so that people wouldn't have to play the Chinese equipment lottery to avoid paying a 1000% markup.


Attempting to sue the overseas manufacturer of your no-name third party AC adapter is pretty much the definition of futility.


> You sue

You may not get the chance. Some damage is irreversible and a lawsuit will probably only bring you some legal expenses. Preventing disasters is smarter and cheaper than inviting them and then clogging up a courtroom to complain that the perfectly preventable disaster actually happened after you invited it.


The product vendor stopped existed a week after you bought it from them.


USB-C is supposed to negotiate a voltage and current that are safe for both ends of the connection as well as for the cable itself. A "shoddy" charger can supply too little power, but it's not going to overcharge a battery.


A shoddy charger can supply mains power to your device. Example [0].

[0] http://www.righto.com/2014/05/a-look-inside-ipad-chargers-pr...


I blame Amazon and other reckless online marketplaces for this. Why are they not required to check all products they lost to conform with local safety standards? Would you buy something from a supermarket and take even a 0.01% (or whatever) chance that it literally blows up into your face?


Is eBay required to test every single product and sale, including the $150 used laptop that Grandma is trying to sell?

I recently bought a pair of Taotronics headphones from Amazon. They are a Chinese knockoff of more premium ANC noise cancelling headphones, at a quarter of the price.

The performance is incredible, and if you slapped a Bose brand on it, I could absolutely believe it's the real thing.

I would like to buy more "Taotronics-like" products from "reckless" marketplaces. For example, I'm looking at NASes. The top brand names like Synology are selling ~$40 worth of components BoM for $400. That's ridiculous!

Jeff Bezos is often quoted as 'Your margin is my opportunity'. As a consumer, I LOVE it.


> Is eBay required to test every single product and sale, including the $150 used laptop that Grandma is trying to sell?

Private sales are different than commercial sales.

I'd argue that any marketplace that allows other commercial sellers on its platform should be held accountable for anything safety and tax related their sellers do.

They should take necessary precautions to verify the sellers and routinely check the products. In Germany VAT dodging by Chinese companies selling on Amazon (let Amazon deliver with FBA and just don't pay taxes afterwards) got recently regulated so that Amazon is liable and the amount of Chinese crap dropped significantly.


That isn't drm but certification. E.g. if the device isn't certified then you shouldn't use it, but if you still want to use it, it is your choice.


You can’t tell.

Fake chargers and cables are very convincing.

How could it possibly be “your choice”?




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