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PowerBook 65W AC adapter issues

PowerBook 65W AC adapter issues

Although we have in the past noted wire strain issues with AC adapters for older Apple laptops, last week we covered reports of similar problems with the newer, 65W (white square) adapters shipping with recent PowerBooks and iBooks. Over the past few days, we've received a large number of confirming reports from users who have experienced these issues. Many of these users have had to have adapters replaced multiple times. Reader E. Karsten Smelser writes:

"Over my last iBook and current Powerbook, I've gone through 6 (six) 65W adapters. All due to the breaking of the strain relief near the connector. It tends to start slow, leads to shorting, then complete failure. It doesn't seem to matter if it's during traveling or just home use - after a few months, it just starts to fail."

Greg Askins' report raises similar concerns about the frequency of such problems: "My wife is on her second iBook Power Adapter (courtesy of the plug-in connector coming loose at the iBook connection). While at the Apple Store a few months ago to buy another one, I ran into THREE(!) other people experiencing the same problem (at different stages -- just starting to fail, failing, already replaced theirs, etc.). The four of us confronted the Apple Store manager to see what Apple would do about it, but got nowhere."

Other anecdotes included reports of repeated problems. Reader 'Ebaz' writes, "Yes, I've had two of the damn things go on me this year. Thank god for Apple Care." Similarly, Jason Titus writes, "I'm on my second iBook power adapter as well. Seems like the cables snap internally just from regular wear and tear." Paul Kilborn notes, "I have gone through two power adaptors in which the wire has been exposed at the unit rendering them unusable. This is clearly a design fault." Richard Henderson adds, "I?m on my second adapter in less than 6 months. Apple replaced the first one but indicated that it was not a normal policy."

Some readers have suggested that the problem is the fault of people handling their AC adapters roughly. However, reader feedback has included reports of problems with PowerBooks that rarely leave home and simply get moved around on a desk, which is behavior that any laptop should be able to withstand.

Apple's replacement policy? Luckily, many users report success in getting Apple to replace their problematic AC adapter by calling Apple's support line or by taking the affected adapter(s) to a local Apple Store. However, that doesn't seem to be the case for all users. Reader Jeff Holder reports:

"My wife?s iBook (14?, dual USB) has been through 3 power adapters and my 17? Powerbook has been through 1. As described on your site, they give way to the smallest of tension on them. I?ve called Apple each time, but they won?t replace them."

Jeff isn't alone in encountering resistance from Apple in terms of replacing problematic AC adapters. A number of readers report similar reluctance, or outright refusal.

New, improved replacements? According to a few MacFixIt readers, some of the newest replacement adapters seem to be constructed slightly differently, leading some to believe that Apple has attempted to fix the problem with a revised version of the adapter. Reader Craig Spirko writes:

"I purchased yet another power adapter for my TiBook today. I?ve had two die on an iBook and this is the second 65w to go. It always shorts out on the cord near the plug end that goes into the PowerBook. The interesting thing is that this replacement has a thicker cord than all the earlier ones."

Vic Mabus provides a similar report, stating, "I had to replace the adapter for my iBook after 12 1/2 months use... The new adapter that I purchased has a rather stout strain relief, indicating that Apple was aware of this weakness."

Do-It-Yourself repair suggestions If Apple refuses to replace your problematic AC adapter and you're handy with wiring, Reader Ric Getter recommends a DIY replacement cable:

"This has been an issue at home with my wife?s iBook along with literally dozens of clamshells at the schools I do support work for. The district's A/V repair shop purchases replacements at Pilot Technologies, the Book-Endz Dock people. Their replacement (a BE-10021 Power Cable, $6.13 each) includes the plug and about 6" of cable. The plug's design is far superior to Apple's and should last a very long time. After splicing the cable, you can use shrink tubing to cover the repair."

Do you have your own adapter story? Drop us an email at

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