The Gadgets Page

April 4, 2007

Fix This! Power Cords on Laptops

Filed under: Laptops — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

I Pretend I Have Some Control Over My Power Cord

As Ponzi points out in her excellent entry, there is one true design flaw of ALL laptop computers: the power cord.

What kind of power cord user are you? Ponzi says there are three types:

There are “The people in denial”. – They get rid of it all together and act like it’s not a problem – until they have to deal with it. They put it out of mind and out of sight – pack it in the suitcase. As svelte and cordfree as these people are in the airport secretly they are the ones who frantically throw everything out of their suitcases looking for it when they have a black out in the taxi on the way to the hotel.

The people who don’t care. – This group just stuffs that whole cord into the backpack or bag and say that’s part of carrying the laptop, deal with it. Then all their crap comes pouring out when its time to use it.

There are the ones who try to act like they have some control. – This would be my crowd – for the moment (I tend to bounce between all three). They roll up the cord and use the piece of velcro if they have it (IBM tried to give us a solution) which usually doesn’t fit the whole cord.

Velcro One-Wrap CabletiesI’m one of the “pretend I have some control” people. I found these Velcro One-Wrap Cableties at Home Depot several years ago (pictured in the top photo). They come in an 8 inch size that wraps around my power brick AND the cord to create one easy package to stuff into the laptop bag. As Ponzi points out, however, it’s still a BIG thing to cart around. It takes up as much space as my Nintendo DS. If my bag were any smaller, I would have to choose between the power cord and my personal entertainment device.

ZIP-LINQ Retractable Notebook Power CordZip-Linq has created the ZIP-LINQ Retractable Notebook Power Cord, which is a pretty good deal, but it doesn’t replace your power brick. I could use it to replace half of my cord, but I would still have to wrap the cord to the power brick. If I have to be wrapping cords anyway, I might as well do both. It’s an inexpensive replacement that is pretty tempting, but it doesn’t solve the whole problem.

Smarthome Small Cable ManagerAnother option is the Smarthome Small Cable Manager, but it will only help you if your brick isn’t in the middle of the cord. Otherwise, you’ll use one cable manager for the cord from the laptop to the brick and another for the cord from the brick to the wall. Wrapping cords twice isn’t very efficient, so the Velcro Cableties seem like a better option.

The MacBook Pro power cord has the most useable design.Apple has done the best job of making their power cords useable. The power plug unfolds to plug into the wall and folds up for travel. They have the brick plug directly into the wall and have an attached wire wrap on the brick. It’s still a big thing to keep in your laptop bag, but it’s VERY easy to wrap up.

Sadly, the only other option is to include the power brick in the laptop itself, which would make my tiny laptop MUCH bigger. It’s the whole reason they put the power brick on the cord in the first place. Just think about how much bigger your very portable laptop would be if you had to include that power brick in the case.

In the end, my laptop battery only lasts a couple of hours and I have come to accept the fact that I need to cart around the power cord with it. There are some design frontiers that are waiting to be discovered, but until then, I have become a good friend of Velcro Cableties. Of course, there’s always the “Living In Denial” option.

Via: Chris Pirillo on Twitter


  1. Don’t know if you have a Dollar Tree in your area but they have a package of 8 velcro strips for….a dollar. I bought a bunch of them and have found them to be very useful and the price can not be beat.


    Comment by Philip Tyson — April 4, 2007 @ 6:32 pm

  2. Thought you might find both this item of interest since it deals with this issue. (The website is cool as well.) Of course since it is for an Apple power supply, it isn’t much help for you now, but it is a start. I was thinking of suggesting a version for the PC brands, but it seems like a waste of my money to submit a suggestion that surely must have already been considered.

    Comment by Ken Daniels — July 26, 2010 @ 6:13 am

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