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Magsafe Power Adapter Connector

The Prodigal Pins

Has Apple Opened Itself Up To
A Billion-Dollar Lawsuit?

The Magsafe Power Adapter is dangerously defective.

Michael David Crawford
October 1, 2008

Copyright © 2008 Michael David Crawford. All Rights Reserved.

My MacBook Pro is dead again. My MagSafe Power Adapter has failed - for the third time.

The MagSafe promised to be The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread: because the connection is magnetic and not a plug-and-socket, if you trip over the cord, the connector will safely pop off the laptop rather than causing it to crash onto the floor.

I can testify that it does work that way, and quite reliably too.

But there are two very serious design flaws: the one I've experienced three times now results in a failure to charge. Eventually the battery drains so the unit won't even boot, leaving my data inaccessible.

The other, which is reported by numerous customer reviews on Apple's own website, could result in fires, irreparable damage, data loss, injury or death.


LOL, Apple Users

Apple could sell shit on a shingle and the fanbois would praise it as if it were the Second Coming of Christ.
-- HackerCracker

If you live in the San Francisco or Monterey Bay Areas and own a MacBook Pro, you could really help me out by lending me your MagSafe for a few hours so I could recover my data. My unit is no longer under warranty and I don't have the cash to buy a replacement adapter.

If you own a MacBook (not a MacBook Pro), you'll have a MagSafe, but a different model than the one that comes with the Pro. I don't know whether it would work on my model.

Frankly I'm surprised that the Consumer Product Safety Commission hasn't forced Apple to recall and redesign the MagSafe. And I'm absolutely astounded that Apple hasn't initiated a voluntary recall, so as to avoid what could well be damage awards in the hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars - both the MacBook Pro and the entry-level MacBook are very popular, and both use the MagSafe.

The problem I keep experiencing, in which my unit won't charge, is that the tiny spring-loaded pins which make the electrical connection to my computer fail to extend and press against the notebook's terminals.

Apple's support site has a tech note which claims that one can fix the problem by nudging the stuck pins sideways, but that has never worked for me. No doubt the springs that extend them, being very tiny, either break or become fatigued and so lose their resilience.

The fire hazard reported by so many of the customer reviews - at Apple's own website - is that the cord melts, exposing the wiring within:

Replacement

I was charging my laptop at one point, moved my foot and felt a shock - the cord had melted, exposed the wires, and I had touched them.
-- KP from Warrenville

FIRE HAZARD

I've had my MacBook Pro for a little over a year and for the past couple of months this adapter, which I only use at home, has started getting insanely hot. I was working on my computer right now, and I noticed the battery icon was displayed as though I wasn't plugged in. I checked the power adapter and OUCH!!! the thing was incredibly hot and had a burning smell. It's been 10 minutes now, with it completely unplugged, and it's just now touchable.

I'm afraid to plug this thing back in. Does apple warranty against home fires because of a shoddy product?
-- JF from Sierra Madre

Melted & Overheated!

I don't know what's wrong with these things. My power adapter gets ridiculously hot and is starting to melt near the mag connection. LAME! Also, I've gone through 2 batteries that have swelled up. I love the MacBook itself but they need to olve these issues. (sic)
-- CL from Seattle

I am quite sobered by the fact that I have long been in the habit of leaving my MacBook Pro plugged in and powered on while I am gone for the day.

I submitted a link to my own copy of this story at The Vancouver Diaries to Apple's Bug Report Form. Apple Employees may look up my submission in their Radar bug database by clicking the following link:

If this piece posts at Kuro5hin, I'll add its link to my report.

If that doesn't light a fire under Apple's collective asses, I'll mail a hardcopy to their legal department. Cupertino isn't very far away.

On the Loyalty of a Beaten Wife

My many Kuron friends often express amazement at my loyalty to Apple and the Macintosh platform, despite the poor quality of its hardware and Apple's legendary and callous treatment of its users and developers. There are two simple reasons:

However, I am not at all pleased with Mac OS X. While it does have some advantages over Mac OS 9 - also known as Classic - such as security and protected memory, Mac OS X is as slow as molasses. I find it barely usable on my 300 MHz Blue and White G3, which just flies under Mac OS 9.

Really the best operating system I've ever used or coded for is the BeOS; it had protected memory too, but was snappy and responsive on my 150 Mhz PowerPC 604 (not 604e) PowerMac 8500.

Alas, the BeOS, while technically superior, failed due to poor marketing and clueless management. But it is being resurrected in Open Source form by the Haiku Operating System. Haiku is not yet ready for production use, but it's getting close. Perhaps the happy day will come when I can earn my keep coding to the BeOS API on an indestructible Durabook with Haiku under the hood.

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