August 20, 2006

Powerless

The magnetized connector of my Mac Book Pro is a clever device, and even fun to play with.  It's always a pleasant feeling when you bring the cable next to the plug and suddenly feel the magnetic attraction clip it into place.  It has also saved the day on more than one occasion, where the cable got severely yanked out as I was moving my laptop without realizing the cable was wedged somewhere.

Except that...

This kind of thing has pretty much never happened to any of my previous laptops.  I can't even recall last time I tripped on the cable or yanked it hard by accident.

I pondered that for a while. 

How come all the laptops I've had before the Mac Book Pro had the "old way" kind of a connector that doesn't really react well to a brutal lateral move, but it's never been a problem, and then I get a Mac that solves this problem I never had, but that I suddenly begin to have it a lot...

Another manifestation of the Heisenberg principle?

No, much simpler, actually.

The power connector on the Mac is on the side.  Which is a very dumb idea.

Posted by cedric at August 20, 2006 11:34 PM
Comments

Except it's much more accessible.

Posted by: Jon Tirsen at August 21, 2006 12:38 AM

All of the PowerBook laptops (except the first G4 500Mhz one) have had their power connector on the side, to improve the screen hinge at the same time as reducing the required depth. And I lost that one when plugged in and the cable was tripped over, so it's not just a side vs. rear issue.

I think that the PowerBook ones have been designed to be too well-fitting, as opposed to some other makes of laptop which have smaller inserts. It may be less of a problem for those, but I for one would like to have the new magsafe connector on mine for the future ...

Posted by: Alex Blewitt at August 21, 2006 12:41 AM

alex, having the power on the side IMPROVES the screen hinge? really?

the macbook pro's screen hinge is the worst of any laptop i've used. my old thinkpad had the power on the back and had a screen that could open to pretty much 180 degrees, whereas this macbook only opens to 110 - 120 degrees. very annoying since it still takes up so much space when used with an external keyboard & mouse. also bad for really using on one's lap (a tall guy like me needs a screen that tilts further to be lap usable). also, a good laptop stand (see standit.com) with a wide opening screen is joy. the icurve is not.

Posted by: Dave B at August 21, 2006 01:36 AM

alex, having the power on the side IMPROVES the screen hinge? really?

the macbook pro's screen hinge is the worst of any laptop i've used. my old thinkpad had the power on the back and had a screen that could open to pretty much 180 degrees, whereas this macbook only opens to 110 - 120 degrees. very annoying since it still takes up so much space when used with an external keyboard & mouse. also bad for really using on one's lap (a tall guy like me needs a screen that tilts further to be lap usable). also, a good laptop stand (see standit.com) with a wide opening screen is joy. the icurve is not.

Posted by: Dave B at August 21, 2006 01:37 AM

double posting due to "Internal Server Error". thanks a lot movable type!

Posted by: Dave B at August 21, 2006 01:42 AM

Having the power connector, and all other connectors as well, on the side allows for the imo great screen placement.

Posted by: Marcus Ahnve at August 21, 2006 02:07 AM

If it were round the back, you wouldn't see that little (off/red/green) dot.

And the screen would have to be raised.

And anyone walking past would still trip over the cable.

Disappointing blog entry.

Posted by: Rob Dickens at August 21, 2006 02:48 AM

I've actually had a couple of laptops destroyed by someone tripping over the cable and sending it flying. One time the plug was on the back and once it was on the side. I have to work on Windows so I don't use Macs but the magnetic connector would be a definite plus-point for me. Don't you guys have children/dogs/cats/wives etc? ;-)

Posted by: r1ch at August 21, 2006 03:58 AM

Argh - got an error, so here goes again...

I've actually had a couple of laptops destroyed by someone tripping over the cable and sending it flying. One time the plug was on the back and once it was on the side. I have to work on Windows so I don't use Macs but the magnetic connector would be a definite plus-point for me. Don't you guys have children/dogs/cats/wives etc? ;-)

Posted by: r1ch at August 21, 2006 03:59 AM

The "magsafe" connector saved my Macbook Pro within the first 10 minutes of me taking it out of the package. I didn't realize I was standing on the cable and I picked up the laptop without any great care and went to move it. To my surprise, as I'm usually more careful, the power connector popped right out. There would have been a lot more cursing than there was had it not had a magnetic connection.

My old Toshiba laptop had the power connector in the back and I can't say one is a clear winner over the other. Both are susceptible to being ripped out accidently and even though it doesn't happen very often, when it does, I'd rather have a magnetic connection, based on my experiences.

Posted by: Geoff Wozniak at August 21, 2006 06:16 AM

I've sent my old ThinkPad T23 flying due to the power cord. It ended up landing face first on the floor. Fortunately, not too much damage other than the keyboard is now slightly protruding. Now I am just more careful about how I place the power cord.

Posted by: n at August 21, 2006 06:45 AM

You know, I have never really had a problem with damaging the power connector.. What I have seen more of is What "n" says: sending the laptop flying because someone trips over the cable.

I have to say, the magsafe connector is one of those little things that really makes the laptop feel great.

Posted by: cooper at August 21, 2006 11:34 AM

Like many others, I've seen thinkpads flying many times. Many thinkpad users will tell you that their AC plug is getting loose, guess why?

We had an IBM tech to repair a couple of them in my company, he told me that this was one of the most common issues they had on the T4x series.

I do hate hate how my Mac Book Pro plug will come off when I don't want, there is definitely room for improvement on it. However, I am thankful in advance for the day it will save me a call to AppleCare and possibly loosing my laptop for 5 bus. days.

Posted by: Sylvain at August 21, 2006 11:59 AM

Lol, I broke 1 tablet PC like that , and my mum did break the new Sony Vaio I gave her.

I never owned a mac, but I must say the magnetic connector IS very clever.

NR

Posted by: nicolas at September 5, 2006 01:22 PM

Dave B: You and Cedric are missing the point with the placement. Next time you fly coach in front of the exit row and the guy in front of you reclines, you may understand the advantage of moving the ports to the side -- it lets the display sit lower that when it has to recline *above* the ports. It's a pretty nice advantage for folks who fly a lot and have to get work done in the air.

There's a very good reason it *used* to be in the back but is now on the side.

Ironically, my MacBook Pro went flying the other day -- because I tripped over the USB-connected keyboard cable. :-/

Posted by: Ben Galbraith at September 16, 2006 09:37 AM

I can think of one reason to have power on the side which occasionally makes me ponder on my Dell Latitude (which has it on the back).

When I put the laptop in the case, and I'm at some location where I really need to charge the laptop but not use it, if the connector is on the back, I can't put the laptop in the case since the case blocks the power port - but if its on the side, the laptop can be seated tightly in the case while plugged in.

Posted by: amallah at December 24, 2006 08:10 AM
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