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MacBook Pro Plane Power

September 17, 2006

I’ve had a 15″ MacBook Pro for a month now, and I must say that I’m reasonably happy. Built-in iSight is great. Processing power is great. Having the ability to run Windows with Parallels has been amazing – I can now work on one machine instead of two. The Windows installation is even reasonable at running assistive technology.

I’m a little disappointed in one area though.

Like Molly, I’m travelling around the world for some private training courses, and some conferences (Webmaster Jam Session, and Web Directions). I leave tomorrow morning (Sept 18th, 2006) and don’t return home until October 3rd.

What is sticking in my craw is the fact that there isn’t a good solution to plug the MacBook Pro into the power outlets on the plane. From what I understand, most planes have a limit at 75 watts of power, and the MacBook Pro takes 85 watts. What’s more, Apple has a lock down on the magnetic power tip, so there are no third party tips that can be used with some of the cool iGo Juice adaptors.

If anyone has seen or heard of a solution, i’d love to know about it – right now I’m feeling really put off, and really upset that short of buying two extra batteries, I won’t have a power solution for the 14 hour flight from LA to Sydney, Australia. That is not cool. If anyone out there has any reliable ideas/solutions, I’d love to hear them. I’m getting a bit worried that my only choice is to buy two more batteries at $130 each.

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19 Responses

Comment by paul haine — Sep 17 2006 @ 9:36 am

“If anyone out there has any reliable ideas/solutions, I’d love to hear them.”

You could read a book instead.

Comment by Jesse — Sep 17 2006 @ 11:53 am

I have found the lower watt (60w) Macbook charger works fine with Macbook Pro. I have told it shouldn’t, but it does. It will at least power it without a battery but I have been able to charge my battery with it.

Does it destroy the battery? I dunno but 4 months on and off a macbook charger and its fine.

I did this by accident btw… but it works.

Comment by pauldwaite — Sep 17 2006 @ 2:27 pm

Read a book? Read a BOOK?!? Oh, yeah, sure. Hey, we could also give him a candle so he can carry on during the night, and run the frickin’ plane on STEAM.

(I may be kidding.)

Comment by Colin — Sep 17 2006 @ 9:25 pm

i bought a vector imobile 100 watt dc to ac power invert and it works great. It comes with an empower adapter (airplane adapter). So all you have to do really is just plug your normal outlet plug into the inverter then plug the inverter with the empower adapter into the airline seet. I have tested it and it workes fine. It is also compact enough and even comes with a usb charging port if you want for cell phones and ipods.

You can buy it off ebay and in stores.

you can check it out here http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=270016949156&category=79816

Comment by feather — Sep 17 2006 @ 9:45 pm

re: vector imobile 100:

just plug your normal outlet plug into the inverter then plug the inverter with the empower adapter into the airline seet. I have tested it and it workes fine.

Colin – that is how they generally work, but have you tested with a 15″ MacBook Pro? Just want to be sure… I’ve read some stories out there that most of the inverters don’t work, or kept turning off or tripping the circuit on the planes. It’s not that I don’t trust you, but I really want to make sure of this particular model working with the macbook pro

Comment by Steve Dixon — Sep 18 2006 @ 11:31 pm

Derek, you might want to contact your airline, as I know that some airlines will not allow anyone to use laptops on battery power because of the recent spate of exploding batteries from Sony and now other manufacturers.

Hope to meet you at Web Directions. Have a good trip.

Comment by Roger Avats — Oct 01 2006 @ 4:06 am

I just flew from LAX to London with a MacBook Pro and my inverter didn’t work. The sad part is that I purchased this inverter from the Apple store when I got my laptop based on the recommendation of the sales staff. The inverter that i tried is the Kensignton Ultra Portable Power Inverter 150. Now I am looking for another solution myself.

Comment by feather — Oct 01 2006 @ 8:28 am

I purchased this inverter from the Apple store when I got my laptop based on the recommendation of the sales staff. The inverter that i tried is the Kensignton Ultra Portable Power Inverter 150.

Roger – I almost bought that one before the trip from LAX to Sydney, but couldn’t find one. Sounds like it was lucky for me. I did buy another battery, but ended up not needing it – slept quite well, watched movies, ate and only about 3 hours working.

Do let me know if you find anything – I’m really interested to hear about anything you might find…

Comment by Mark Watson — Oct 04 2006 @ 7:59 am

I just travelled from London to Seattle with the Kensington inverter 150 on BA – again, didn’t work. I think it depends on the airline. I also think the problem is in the power pack, not the inverter – the inverter’s on light showed OK throughout, so it’s not tripping the seat either. I may try and get a lower grade power pack and try that out.

Does Steve Jobs not travel long haul, these days?

Comment by Leo — Oct 04 2006 @ 3:47 pm

Battery fires occur during charging, operating from battery is not the risky part. Technically the EmPower specification states that it is to be used only to power the computer and not charge any battery. The EmPower adaptor is supposed to handle the distinction, although clearly the computer has to be built to accommodate various power modes. My first EmPower Adaptor for a PB G3 WallStreet actually still charged the battery, but my second one for a Titanium worked as it is supposed to – – it powered the computer, but would not charge the battery.

That being said, spare batteries seem to be all we have for long flights. No external charger available to keep them charged that I can find. All that is available is swapping batteries through the computer to charge — not real convenient.

I was recently on a NW Scarebus DTW-AMS and it had good old 120V Edison plugs – no special cables required ;) Of course, that would allow charging, so it sounds a bit more risky.

Comment by Mike — Oct 06 2006 @ 9:48 am

We offer a direct DC to DC solution that will work on Airplanes. NO need to take out battery, use an inverter, and it also charges the battery!

mikegyver.com

Comment by Arun — Oct 14 2006 @ 1:36 pm

I googled and ended up in this page.

I thought my iGo was the final power solution. I have used it on many trips on flight (with other computers). I have a trip to Brazil on American – will have to use my MBP. Seems like the only choice is to use Invertor. I hope it works.

If any of you found the invertor solution workig on American flights (for MBP), i will be interested to hear about it.

Comment by Rob Evans — Oct 22 2006 @ 2:33 pm

Go here for a good solution: http://www.mikegyver.com/

Comment by Arun — Oct 25 2006 @ 8:54 am

Thanks. At a store in Houston airport, i was told that iGO now has a magnetic tip for MBP. I wil have to check once i am back home.

Comment by Mike — Oct 25 2006 @ 7:30 pm

Just wanted to mention to users out there. Our Solution Will Charge the Macbook Pro Battery while on the plane and DOES work in the car.

http://mikegyver.com

Comment by Michael — Nov 01 2006 @ 9:36 am

Why not use the Apple MagSafe Airline Power Adapter? Here is the link Apple MagSafe. I hope this helps.

Michael

Comment by Leo — Nov 01 2006 @ 9:52 am

Well that must be new. Exactly what I am looking for.
I see it meets the safety requirements by powering the computer and NOT charging the battery.

Comment by Ben — Nov 03 2006 @ 6:19 pm

Oh, you wait until your logic board (on my 3rd in 3 months) and RAM (2 chips down) start failing, THEN you’ll have something to complain about :p

Comment by Mike — Mar 10 2007 @ 4:50 am

>Well that must be new. Exactly what I am looking for.
>I see it meets the safety requirements by powering the >computer and NOT charging the battery.

Our adapters, such as the Kensington AC/DC adapter, pose no more of a Risk or less of a safety requirement then any other laptop that that is currently being used today.

http://mikegyver.com