Searching for MagSafe accessories

Dan Frakes
23 August, 2007
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ONE of the niftiest features introduced when Apple rolled out its Intel-based laptops in 2006 was the MagSafe power connector — the magnetic ring surrounding four
small power nubs at the end of the notebook’s power cable. If you move the connector close to your laptop, the magnetic attraction will snap it into place. Even better, if you trip over your power cord, the MagSafe connector comes loose, saving your MacBook a trip into orbit.

There’s only one problem with Apple’s move to this new connector: There aren’t any third-party MagSafe accessories.For example, consider the Thin & Light power adapters from Kensington or the juice70 from iGo. These products, through interchangeable tips, let you use a single power adapter with several devices (or even multiple devices simultaneously). And they work with multiple power sources — AC wall outlets, car accessory jacks, and airline-seat DC power ports. But these products aren’t compatible with the MagSafe connectors on MacBooks and MacBook Pros. The only accessory you can get for them is Apple’s own MagSafe Airline Adapter.(There is also a third-party solution from the appropriatelynamed Mike Gyver that involves MagSafe plugs purchased from Apple and grafted onto a Kensington adapter. This is unsupported by Apple, as well as being quite expensive (since Mike Gyverpays full price for all the MagSafes he’s chopping up.)

Why the dearth of third-party Mag-Safe products? Because the MagSafe connector is a patented technology and, according to a Kensington representative, Apple has yet to license the use of that technology to other vendors. Apple has confirmed that stance in the past, but did not respond to our more recent questions on whether that policy has since changed.

Interestingly, iGo’s web site now features a page for a product now in development dubbed “notebook tip S32” that supposedly offers compatibility with the MacBook and MacBook Pro. Could this mean the arrival of a third-party MagSafe accessory after a year and a half of slim pickings? Stay tuned.

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