Back on 28 June 2006 I posted a story asking "Where are the MagSafe adapters for cars and airplanes?" Apple finally gave us the MagSafe Airline Adapter on 26 October 2006, but where is the car adapter?
The MacBook Pro was announced on 14 February 2006 and here we are a year later without a way to charge the thing in a car. And don't get me started about the lack of third party chargers...
I don't know about you but I spend a fair amount of time traveling by car and frankly it's a pain to carry multiple batteries everywhere. Not to mention expensive! Apple's MBP batteries costs US$130 each.
Apple's US$59 MagSafe Airline adapter (PN: MA598Z/A) works with the in-seat DC power ports found on many commercial airliners, but don't let the larger adapter pictured fool you - it won't work in your car's cigarette lighter (excuse me, accessory) outlet.
The small plug (pictured on Apple's adapter at left) is for EmPower outlets typically found in business class sections of commercial airlines. According to SeatGuru.com:
"EmPower is the most widely installed in-seat power system in the skies today. Over 125,000 seats on 40 airlines feature this type of port. EmPower features 15V DC power at up to 75 watts per outlet and if you want to plug in your laptop, you'll need an adapter that is compatible with EmPower."
That larger adapter (also pictured) is a 20mm EmPower port adapter and disappointingly, it cannot be used with automobile power ports - despite its look. According to Apple's product page:
The MagSafe Airline Adapter is not compatible with automobile power ports.
Another thing to remember is that although the MagSafe Airline Power Adapter provides power for the MacBook Pro it will not charge the battery.
The other bummer is that Apple hasn't licensed their proprietary MagSafe connector to third parties. Therefore don't expect MacBook and MBP adapters any time soon. The same is true for high capacity lithium ion battery packs such as those produced by Lind Electronics.
While there probably are workarounds that could be implemented using the Apple airline adapter, these would only allow external power to the unit but would not allow charging of the internal battery. If this issue is an oversight Apple should correct it as soon as possible. Long distance commuters that use extended lithium ion batteries for overseas flights on a regular basis are the ones that suffer most and most airlines do not have EmPower adapters throughout all seating areas.
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