It is unfortunate that a notebook computer is useless if you don’t have a functioning power adapter for it. The same can be said of an external DVD burner, flat-panel monitor or anything else that requires an external power brick.
The most common problem with external power adapters is that the wiring fails right near the plug that goes into the computer, usually resulting from wire fatigue, rough handling or wrapping the cord too tightly around the power brick for transport. They can also fail for reasons unrelated to the wiring. Sometimes a power adapter will be left on a floor where it falls victim to a small flood, an unruly vacuum cleaner or a playful dog or cat. Other times a business traveler will leave the power supply at a meeting, in a hotel room or on a plane. The end result is the same, with the notebook computer becoming useless as soon as the battery gasps its last breath of power.
Sometimes a mobile user simply wants a second power adapter for their notebook computer so they can leave one at work and one at home and not have to bring it back and forth all the time. But they usually don’t want to pay retail price for a second power adapter.
It would be great if all notebook computers used the same power supply but they don’t. There’s no consistency among external power adapters, not even from the same vendor. Different power adapters usually have different plugs and different output voltages, and some can’t deliver as much current as others can. It’s often ok if a power adapter outputs slightly more or less voltage than a gadget requires, and it’s always ok if the adapter can output more current than a gadget requires. But it’s never ok if the voltage is too far off or if the adapter can’t output enough current, in which case the adapter can burn out or you could damage or destroy your mobile device. And if the power plug doesn’t fit your computer you’re completely out of luck.
Sometimes you can’t find an exact replacement for a particular power adapter. And sometimes when you can it costs more than your notebook computer is worth. What to do? The solution lies in universal power adapters. These units have variable output voltages and they come with sets of adapter plugs to fit just about any device.
Before buying a universal power adapter, or at least before using one, you have to determine the voltage and current required by your particular device. Your old power adapter should indicate its output voltage and current somewhere; if not, check near the power jack on the device itself. You might have to do a little research on the Internet if you don’t have your old adapter. Just make sure the universal replacement can output the right voltage and at least as much current as your device requires, if not more.
The 100-watt Universal AC Laptop/LCD Monitor Power Supply with USB Power Port from Cables Unlimited should work with any notebook computer, LCD monitor or other device. It has a switch that sets the output voltage to 15, 16, 18, or 19 volts DC at 5.5 amps maximum, or to 20, 22, or 24 volts DC at 4.5 amps maximum. It also features a handy USB power port for charging device via USB. Nine interchangeable power tips are included, that should cover Dell, Sony, Samsung, Fujitsu, Toshiba, NEC, Sharp, IBM, HP/Compaq, ASUS, Gateway and Acer notebooks.
Kensington’s Ultra Thin Notebook Power Adapter is another alternative. It comes with assorted color-coded tips making it compatible with most major notebook brands. It also features a USB charging port and comes with an airline EmPower adapter cord so you charge your computer while flying. Nine power tips ensure compatibility with notebooks from Dell, HP, Compaq, IBM, Lenovo, Toshiba, Sony, Gateway, Acer and more, with an output ranging from 14 to 21 volts DC depending on the tip you attach.
SIIG’s 90-Watt Universal AC Power Adapter is super affordable. Eight color-coded power tips automatically adjust the output voltage from 15 to 24 volts DC to ensure compatibility with notebook computers from Acer, Asus, Compaq, Dell, Fujitsu, Gateway, HP, IBM, Lenovo, NEC, Sony, Toshiba and more.
Belkin’s Home Office Power Adapter can output 16 to 24 volts DC, making it compatible with just about any notebook computer out there. Eleven power tips are included for notebook computers from Dell, HP, Compaq, IBM, Lenovo, Toshiba, Sony, Gateway and Acer. If there’s no tip that fits a device you have, Belkin can send you one free of charge. The unit will also charge cell phones, digital cameras, camcorders, portable DVD players, MP3 players and more.