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December 7, 2003

The $79.99 Dongle

Posted by Mike on December 7, 2003 12:46 PM

So, a few days ago Alison looks up from the iBook and notes that the charging indicator isn't glowing. We both look down at the extension cord the adapter's plugged into and see that it's connected. Odd. So I wiggle the wall-wart and there's a crackling noise followed by a brief flicker of light on the charging light. Then nothing. I find that only by holding the wall-wart firmly will enough contact be made to get a charge.

In its ergonomic wisdom, Apple made its power adapters with interchangeable connectors for use with, for instance, European sockets. So the actual prongs that plug into the socket can be slid off the wall wart and replaced depending on the country you're in. In order to make the adapter more transportable, the prongs fold down into the plastic they're anchored to so they don't stick out and snag things when the adapter's being transported. It's all very nice design and I appreciate it most of the time.


After a little poking around, I figure out that, for whatever reason, the prongs aren't making good contact with the leads inside their plastic housing when they fold out to be plugged into a wall. So I've got a piece of plastic with two bits of metal for the prongs and two leads (presumably copper) inside that allow the prongs to pass juice from the wall to the wall wart, and on down the cord into the iBook. I think to myself "quick call to the Apple store, and they'll gank me for $9.99 for a $.53 collection of plastic and metal and I'll be done."

Nope. Apple won't sell you the little piece of plastic and metal. They'll only sell you a whole new adapter. $79.99.


Bad News man: The adapter side of that chunk-o-metal is standard. It's used in a lot of little wallwarts and, more importantly, stereo equipment. You probably could have bought an ugly black cord to plug from the wall into the adapter at Radio Shack for ~7$.

I wish I'd found this about, oh, seven months ago, in time to save you some Apple money.

(I bought myself a nice new Dell Inspiron 300m after three years with my original run TiBook, and I'm not looking back...)

Posted by: Some Guy Named Josh at May 29, 2004 3:26 PM