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RJ45 is too fat

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16th Jan 2009 | 17:11

One notable feature of the ports on the new MacBook is that the RJ45 Ethernet socket only just fits - it wouldn't if the machine were much thinner. In fact the MacBook Air notoriously doesn't have any wired ethernet connection at all, relying on IEEE 802.11n WiFi for connectivity.

Of course other manufacturers are making expensive thin laptops. The Dell Adamo neatly solves the RJ45 thickness problem by putting the port behind the display hinge, where the machine is as thick as the body plus the display.

The Voodoo Envy's solution is to put the ethernet socket in the power supply, which acts as a WiFi hot spot which the laptop uses for connectivity. This is cute but it means you only get 54Mb/s because the base station doesn't have 802.11n support.

A cheaper and faster alternative would be to pass a gigabit Ethernet connection through from an RJ45 on the power supply to a combined power network port on the laptop. The connector could be much thinner than RJ45 without sacrificing compatibility.

ETA: The other advantage this design would have is that the combined power and ethernet connector can use the magsafe idea, so you don't have the problem of one safe and one unsafe connector when tethered.

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Comments {10}

Barry

from: hobnobs
date: 16th Jan 2009 17:22 (UTC)

But that is sensible, and unlikely to happen. (And probably patented so that no one can do it anyway. ;) )

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(Deleted comment)

Barry

from: hobnobs
date: 16th Jan 2009 17:37 (UTC)

Yup, 3Com Megahertz FE574BT... ("With XJACK")
I still have two of them because of that very interface. (Saved me having to deal with dongles, which would invariably get half-inched.)

They still some in handy now and then too.


Edited at 2009-01-16 05:38 pm (UTC)

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Jamie Bowden

from: jsbowden
date: 16th Jan 2009 17:38 (UTC)

Oh come on Ron, you can't change a BATTERY in a current MB, and you think they'd let their precious aesthetic allow a pop out connector? Screw Apple. As much as I love OS X for some things, I'm just done with their idiotic aesthetics over function design decisions.

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Tony Finch

from: fanf
date: 16th Jan 2009 17:50 (UTC)

No need to get angry, no-one is forcing you to buy a Mac :-)

The Air's connectors are already sort-of pop-out. I imagine a lovely machined aluminium XJACK could be almost invisible when pushed into the body of one of Apple's current range, so it could be beautiful as well as useful.

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Jamie Bowden

from: jsbowden
date: 16th Jan 2009 18:50 (UTC)

No, no one's going to make me buy one, but I LIKE the dual G5 Mac Pro next to my desk. It is beautiful in both aesthetics and functionality, but functionality wins where Apple had to make the choice. These days, it's gone the other way, and I'm over it.

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(Deleted comment)

Tony Finch

from: fanf
date: 16th Jan 2009 17:43 (UTC)

Yes, the XJACK is brilliant but flimsy. I expect you could make a more robust built-in version since you aren't constrained by the PCMCIA form factor.

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Andrew

from: nonameyet
date: 17th Jan 2009 11:08 (UTC)

A cheaper and faster alternative would be to pass a gigabit Ethernet connection through from an RJ45 on the power supply to a combined power network port on the laptop. The connector could be much thinner than RJ45 without sacrificing compatibility.

The 12-15W provided by Power-over-Ethernet is considerably less than most current laptops gobble (Toshiba's current list has laptop power adapters from 60-180W) but there ought to be niche market in Green laptops that could fit that power profile. Something to work towards at least.

Voltage/current might be a pain though. PoE requires a max current around 0.3A (15W at 48V) but laptops seem to start at over 3A (>60W at <20V). I'd think twice before passing a Cat5E cable for 3A when doing an electrical safety inspection. Oh I don't have to - it is <50V, so exempt even though it would be a substantial fire risk :-)

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Andrew

from: nonameyet
date: 17th Jan 2009 11:11 (UTC)

Ah, sorry. You were thinking of ethernet-over-power not PoE.

Would be fun to plug that into one of the network over mains solutions:
1 plug mains plug into network adapter into wall power socket,
2 connect mains plug and network adapter with cat5 cable.

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