I own a DELL Inspiron laptop. I carry it around a lot. I'm always really careful with my laptop and all accessories. But despite the fact that I am really careful with my hardware, over time I've spent a small fortune on it. Not on components in the laptop, but on DC POWER ADAPTERS! I don't remember how much I had of them, but I think there were 6! 1 of them died from a blow-up. All others are rendered useless, because of the signal-cables from the adapter to the laptop have broken. I want to stress again, that I am really careful with my stuff! I've know about this weakness for a long time, and for that reason alone I always make sure the adapter cables are never bent or stretched too much. Also when putting the adapter in the case, I also roll the cable very carefully.
But despite this very careful usage, the adapters keep on getting broken! The cable from the adapter actually has 3 wires: V+, GND and 1 wire for a data-signal. In the laptop and in the adapter are chip's that do a handshake when the connection is made. In the handshake the adapter tells its capabilities to the laptop. This a sort of safety measure that you don't accidentally use an adapter with not enough power and then "blow up" the adapter.
But the problem is this: the long wire between the adapter and the laptop is totally NOT suitable for this data-signal. After using the adapter for a while the quality of the wire decreases. While the wires are still perfectly capable of transmitting the power from the adapter to the laptop, the wire for the data is not capable of sending it's ID to the laptop. I still have about 3 adapters laying around here that have good power, but bad ID-signal and therefore useless. The circuit that should prevent the adapter from dieing, is in fact the weakest link and the first reason for the adapter to die!
This is in fact a lousy construction, but the worst is yet to come. When the problem arises, this is the error message you get: "The AC power adapter type cannot be determined. Your system will operate slower and the battery will not charge. Please connect a Dell 90W AC adapter or higher for best system operation." WHAT!?!? The CPU will run on half speed!!! And there is no way to override that behavior!!
This is terrible! When this happens, that means you cannot use your laptop anymore without adapter, because there is no way to charge your battery anymore. Using the laptop somewhere on the way is not possible anymore! Also the laptop is SLOOOOOWW! WHY, DELL?! WHY?! I know my freakin' adapter is OK! Stop bugging me! Let me do my work!
So, after knowing this problem, and after having bought plenty of adapters (DELL original and also replacement adapters, which all have the same weakness) I thought I'd try something different. I came across this article. This looks promising! It describes how to place the ID-chip from the adapter in the laptop, so it will always recognize the adapter, even universal adapters. So I wanted to try to mod my laptop. First I carefully took out the ID-chip from one of my power-adapters, including the diode and resistor in that circuit.
Then I cut the ID-wire from the DC Power Jack in my laptop and soldered the ID-chip inside the laptop.
Result: Nothing! I did everything very carefully, but obviously I made a mistake somewhere. Or the chip has died somewhere along the process. I don't have digital equipment to measure what's wrong. I ended up restoring the cut fire from DC Power Jack and all is back how it was. Adapters are still not being recognized. So I have to buy YET ANOTHER adapter to be able to properly use this laptop again.
So, if you are planning on buying a new laptop, and you plan on carrying it around a lot, and you are considering a DELL Inspiron Laptop... then DON'T!! It will be totally frustrating when you can't use your laptop anymore without adapter, or your laptop becomes SLOOOOW. Just buy a brand that has a simple power-adapter, which lives much longer, and can be replaced with a universal adapter.
I am totally convinced that DELL does this to make extra bucks from people who need to buy new adapters over and over again. I will never buy a DELL laptop again.
- Heathcliff74 -