Thursday, August 16, 2007

Have MacBook, Will Travel

Saturday I'm flying to Florida to visit family. I'm planning making heavy use of my MacBook both on the flight and in Florida. The thought occurred to me that maybe I should buy one of Apple's MagSafe power adapters that work on the airplane. Reading the reviews on Apple's site was very useful. Here's what I learned:

  • First, make sure your airline seat has a power outlet. This turns out to be easy. Just go to SeatGuru. This is an awesome site! For me, I looked up my flight on American Airlines (I needed the confirmation code, but that was included in my itinerary on Expedia.) For each flight, I could look at the Flight Details and see what kind of plane it would be. I then went to SeatGuru, picked airline, and then picked plane model. You get a map of the seats with not only information on what seats have power outlets, but also other info like "this seat doesn't tilt back" or "it gets cold or loud here" etc. Very nice! I found out that neither of the seats on my two flights (coming and going) had power outlets, but I could change my seat assignment on American Airlines' site and pick seats that did!
  • Next, the Apple airplane adapter does not provide much juice! It will not re-charge your laptop, and in some cases you will continue to drain your battery albeit at a slow rate. So if you're going to use it, start using it as soon as you get out your Mac. Don't wait until you get the warning about being low on juice.
  • Finally, the adapter has a removable tip of some sort that allows it to work with different kinds of outlets used by different airlines. This tip is a major source of problems because you can pull the adapter out of the outlet, and the tip remains behind. Many people have left their tips behind, forcing them to buy a new adapter ($60.)
In the end, I decided not to bother with the adapter. I didn't want to change my seats because I would have to give up aisle seats for seats in between people to get a seat with an outlet. Plus, my MacBook gets very good battery life, especially when you turn off the wireless, which obviously I will do. I figured I would only have about 3 hours of time I could use my MacBook on the flight, and my battery life is much better than that. I will use my iPod to listen to music, just to save a little more juice from my Macbook. Speaking of which, I am looking forward to using my headphones on the plane.

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