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Apple Notebooks Apple's notebook computers including MacBook Pro, MacBook, MacBook Air, PowerBook, and iBook.

MacBook Pro - The trouble with finding a car and airline adapter

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Member Since: Jan 11, 2007
Posts: 69
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When I started investigating adapters that would let me use my
Macbook Pro in a car or airplane, I never realized I would discover
so much controversy surrounding the reliability of such adapters.

If my research is correct, there is really only ONE true-blue adapter
available that is guaranteed to effectively power your Macbook Pro
in a car and plane......and it's EXPENSIVE!

Now correct me on anything I might get wrong here. In fact, I am
posting in an effort that someone does prove me wrong.

From what I read, the Macbook Pro runs on a lower amount of voltage.
There are power inverters out there for about $30-$50 that plug into
the car lighter amd have a 3-prong plug for the Macbook Pro. From the
reviews I read, however, these converters are not very reliable. Either
they break easily, or they don't properly regulate the power.

Then there is the Magsafe adapter that Apple offers for about $60.
True, it's not a car adapter (which doesn't help me), but reading the
reviews on Apple's site, I get the idea that this adapter is prone to
breaking easily.

So, all my research led me to one single product that is being talked
about as the most reliable of all the adapters available:

The problem is the price. $200 is an awful amount of money to spend
on something like this.

It may come down to the old saying that "you get what you pay for,"
but until then, I am hoping someone is using alternative products that
are working effectively for them.

Thanks in advance.
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remember that when reading reviews and such online people who have a problem will almost always post their problems while people who have products that work wont bother to go running around saying how great their stuff works

MoTM honor roll...
i dont remember
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Member Since: Apr 20, 2007
Location: little bit north of dallas
Posts: 198
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Mac Specs: MBP C2D, 1 GB ram, 120GB HD

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i have a 20 buck DC inverter from walmart. i LOVE the thing. it lets me charge my blackberry with a USB cable and it powers my macbook pro or ipod no problem. you should look into that one.
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Member Since: Oct 23, 2008
Posts: 4
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Mac Specs: Early 2008 15 inch MBP 2.6 Core 2 Duo, 4 GB ram, 250 GB HD

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"MacBook Pro - The trouble with finding a car and airline adapter"

Talked to a guy I know who manages an Apple Retail store today about my doubts about the Magsafe Airline adapter working in a vehicle accessory plug-in. He said follow me, and he grabbed his mbp and we went to his vehicle. He plugged it into an outlet in his truck that has a constant power supply separate from the ignition. To my surprise it lit up and showed the laptop being charged while running. Make no mistake about it. It does seem to work, though not recommended from Apple as stated in the manual.
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Member Since: Mar 04, 2008
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I have a friend who constantly travels for work. He also uses the $20 DC inverter from Wal-Mart in the car. He plugs his standard 120v MBP power supply into it and it works great.

The MBP power supply is rated at 85w. A 100w DC inverter is perfect for this.
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Member Since: Apr 15, 2008
Location: Hope Valley, Rhode Island
Posts: 3
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Mac Specs: 2.0 GHz Macbook Intel Core 2 Duo 2 GB RAM

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APC (American Power Conversion) makes a 150W DC/AC converter with an airline adapter for 120V... $49.99. I love the airline adapter, being able to charge in-flight rather than a quick charge during layovers.
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Member Since: Jan 26, 2007
Location: Waihi Beach, New Zealand
Posts: 218
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Mac Specs: MacBook Pro 15" 2.6Ghz | 200GB 7200 | 4GB Ram | 32GB iPod Touch 2G

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I use my MBP in the car, mostly when doing longer distance driving. I have a removable 8" touch screen that mounts above the car stereo, then all cables are routed under the dash and carpet to underneath the front passenger seat. I connect the MBP to all necessary cables here, run InsomniaX, then close the lid and you have your Mac desktop available while driving. To control the MBP while driving I either use the MBP remote for music, or a presentation device which has a little mouse joystick and a few buttons which work well in certain apps.

I initially installed this setup a few years back when using a windows laptop, so had to make a few modifications when I upgraded to using Mac's. The main one was getting power to a magsafe connector, and also a few minor software issues with getting a Mac to work with a small bluetooth GPS unit.

I had a spare power adapter from a previous MBP, so it was a basic matter of giving it the snip, then soldering inline a mono 1/8" female/male connector.

My existing in car setup uses a Kerio 75w laptop 12v power supply, which also includes a 1/8" connector, so I just use the magsafe end of the MBP power adapter, which connects into the Kerio power supply.

Never had any problems with the cable or setup, it does everything a usual magsafe power adapter does, and I can pull the magsafe out of the car and connect back into the power adapter anytime I may need to. If I was flying often, it would be just as easy to buy another Kerio power supply, and use the magsafe connector cable inflight.
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