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Flying Laptop Power

I just heard your comment on Marketplace about the fact that airlines don't supply the cable necessary to connect a laptop computer to the new power jacks.

It's a liability thing. There are hardly two computer power supplies that put out the same DC voltage. The power jacks on the airplanes provide 24 volts, which is higher than what any computer requires. The special power cable drops that down to the voltage that's required by the computer and regulates it, same as the power adapter that plugs into the wall outlet. With all the different makes and models of computer power supplies, it would be difficult to have a complete assortment of cables on board to match each one. If the airline gave you the wrong one and your computer was damaged from over voltage, guess who would be blamed.

So, they got in cahoots with one marketing company who supplies power cables, you order one for your computer (they cost about $80) and then the airline is off the hook, unless of course their power blows up your $80 adapter cable. And next year when you get a new computer (and you WILL get a new computer next year - most people do), chances are pretty good that you'll need a different airline power adapter for it.

I notice that many Amtrak trains, even the cheap ones that run from Washington to NYC have 120 volt AC power outlets at several of the seats in the cars and in the parlor cars. On almost any commuter run you'll find people in the parlor car with a beer and a laptop computer on the table.



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