Wednesday 23rd Mar 2011

I was setting up this morning and dropped the little power connector thing for my Macbook. It bounced on the desk and, good heavens, it snapped into place on the side of the laptop. After getting over the ‘cool!’ moment I got to thinking about that whole magnetic connector idea, and then onto the ‘Smart Cover’ for the iPad 2, and the way it snaps into place, and wondered about a laptop with no openings in it at all.

The ports and whatnot in the side of a laptop collect a lot of dust, which bothers me in a vague sort of way. I doubt it does much damage at all, but I don’t really like it in there, as it were, and it just seems inelegant to have these gaping holes in the side of my oh-so-strokable sleekness of a laptop. Even if we went all-out for induction charging, what about USB, headphones and the like? Can’t we do something about them?

The only reason you need to stick any plug into a socket is to hold it in place. There’s nothing to stop you poking your finger in there (apart from the size of your fingers) so there’s no problem with touching the connectors, so why not have them smoothly flush with the side of the laptop, with magnets to hold connectors in place? You’d have an odd-looking pattern there for sure, what with the connectors and whatever insulation they need from each other, but it’d be smooth, clean and sealed.

You could (please) make the pattern symmetric and nicely avoid the ‘which way up?’ irritation with existing connectors (looking at you, USB), and I guess you’d need some kind of protection from idiots who would force the connector on sideways and try and fry their equipment to prove a point (and a lawsuit).

The big problem would be the ‘legacy issue’, with so many cables and connectors out there, but that’s the sort of problem that (however wastefully) tends to go away fairly quickly. Besides, adaptors would be fairly easy to make.

Anyway, just a thought.