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One of Apple’s Best Ideas Ever — Made Worse (pogue.blogs.nytimes.com)
236 points by adrianmsmith on Aug 3, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 135 comments

This is a rebuttal comment to Pogue: http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/30/one-of-apples-best...

> The ''L'' shaped conductor covers the Ethernet and the Firewire port completely on the Macbook Pro if any type of protective cover-clamshell is installed on the 15 or 17'' designs. Reason being, the ''L'' shaped conductor hugs the body so closely it cannot establish a connection if 3/64" clearance is not provided...Anecdotal evidence supports the view that the 90º magsafe connector design that Apple has reverted to using is the safer of the two designs in terms of accidents as it reduces the chances of a 'shear pull' which made the ''L'' clip vulnerable to pull downs when the Macbook is left on slick or glass like surfaces.

How is it a rebuttal? Pogue's primary complaint was the weakness of the new magnet versus the old 90º magnet. In fact, he specifically says that the last incarnation (which was a T-shaped- just with a stronger magnet) was the ideal balance, which they've now lost. The L-clip was mentioned to illustrate the continuum toward weaker and weaker connections.


Can't you just make the wire run to the back? (like in the 13In I'm currently using)

Or am I missing something? (Oh, ok, It's the "cover clamshell" that's the issue)

Exactly - the beauty of the L is the flexibility it gives in running the wire.

"If you see a cover clamshell on someone's macbook, he/she blew it"

Serious question -- is it really that common for people to knock a laptop off a table with the power cord? I don't think I've ever had that issue, although I did knock a PDA off my desk once because the cord was draped over the front, and with it being a very light object (no damage, it landed on carpet). Or would this be an issue with the Macbook Air due to it's small size? (I'm used to lugging around much large laptops with high friction rubber feet, back when I carried one regularly).

And, instead of a magnetic connector, would a USB type connection function similar? I know that this type of plug stays in good enough so that it doesn't fall out, but can be pulled out without holding the laptop down.

> Serious question -- is it really that common for people to knock a laptop off a table with the power cord?

If you're prone to tripping on cords, or have pets or small children, yes, absolutely.

ack. Working at living room table + children = disaster waiting to happen (and happened to me a few months ago).

I tend to keep my laptop on the table in front of my couch. It seems like I manage to catch the cord every 6 to 9 months. I'm happy I don't pull my laptop down, but most of the time I'm happier that I don't end up face-planting because my foot got caught.

It may not happen often, but all it takes is once for you to really appreciate it.

Yes, yes, yes. My friend regularly pulls his Macbook Air off of the coach, table, desk via the L-magsafe.

I've owned two MBPs and a MBA (long stories) in the last two years. T-magsafe -> L-magsafe -> back to the new thin T-magsafe. The T-magsafe annoys me in that it's harder to use in my lap, but it's vastly superior in the reasons I like it: it keeps me from ruining my laptop and/or the female power adapter slot.

I recently acquired a Samsung Series 9 by fortune and am horrified at how the AC bit goes in the side and is already incredibly flimsy. On non-Magsafe laptops, you have the same issue, it's just that instead of disconnecting, it's ruining the internal AC adapter bit. It's annoying as all-get-out when it breaks, especially if it's out of warranty and you don't know how to use a soldering iron.

The Samsung Series 9 is a good example of bad design not just for the AC port but for many of the ports. We have a couple of the 15" models in the office and the ethernet adapter and mini-hdmi adapter are too big to effectively use at the same time with how close together the ports are. When both are plugged in, the ethernet adapter will typically be at a slight angle and not always completely connected. I realize they are meant for portability and so wi-fi is going to be used most of the time but if you've got big files to transfer it's a huge pain in the ass.

Haha. The left-side USB port and AC power adapter can't even be used at the same time. Pair that with wonky USB3 drivers for the right hand ports and you have a laughable situation.

Don't get me started on touchpad drivers.

PC laptop touchpad drivers and hardware are so pathetic, they alone make we want to get Apple laptops. You'd think that at least one of the PC makers would realize this and distinguish themselves by making a quality touchpad and driver. This baffles me. Why some company would make crap and wonder why Apple is beating them.

This is a case where Windows is more of the problem than any individual touchpad manufacturer. If you Hackintosh most reasonably recent laptops, the touchpad acts predictably in OS X. The biggest thing Apple does right in hardware is that they make the touchpad comfortably huge.

That's something that continually surprises me. I've been on the Macs for almost a decade at this point. The touchpad on my 15" 2010 MacBook Pro is quite large and comfortable, it's basically 5" diagonally.

Now my sister's 11" MacBook Air has a much smaller touchpad for obvious reasons. But I see recent 15" or 17" PC laptops with touchpads that are just as small, maybe 3" diagonally. Having the large surface is so nice, I don't think I could go back.

Maybe that's a driver thing too. If large touchpads were always producing false input from being brushed by the palms, using the smaller touchpads may actually be beneficial for users.

I know people have had issues, but mine works perfectly. I own a MBA and I like the Series 9 touchpad better in many aspects. I agree on the ports though, poor design choices.

That's true. The T shaped connectors detached faster when you tripped. With the L shaped connector, sometimes my laptop will rotate up to 90 degrees before the magsafe detaches.

You didn't by chance acquire this laptop as an intern at a software company did you?


I have a first-gen Samsung Series 9, and I've had the internal power socket get ruined by the cable being yanked. After opening it up, and a bit of super glue, it is all good.

I like the L connector, but it does interfere with the other ports and tends to develop a sharp bend.

So in some situations it's wonderful, in others its horrible.

But it's vastly better than any PC laptop connector I've ever used.

I have one of the new retina MBP's and have had no such issues. In fact I've been a bit surprised at how hard it holds at times.

I am having the same experience with my new Macbook Air. The connector feels way stronger than on my previous machine. Then again my last mac was a 4 year old original unibody, so the magsafe connector might have weakened a bit with age.

Same here. I'm curious if maybe some of the early manufacturing runs perhaps had weaker magnets?

berberous, your account has been hellbanned as of 23 days ago here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4224422

Why does this happen to fairly neutral comments? I've never understood it.

It's a sign of decay. No forum can last forever.

I ordered mine on the first day, so I presume it was an early manufacturing run. The magnet in mine seems fantastic. I've had no issues with it staying in. I can't, however, compare it to earlier models as this is the only MacBook I've owned or used extensively.

You'd wonder if pogue (who I usually like a lot) tested multiple units or just one. For a mechanical critique, its probably worth testing multiple units. Although with apples supply chain maybe Im totally off here

I don't know, most people are only going to buy one, so if random units are bad... that's not really much better than if only some units are bad.

Actually, that's much better because it means it's simply a quality control issue and it's thus something someone can have fixed by simply exchanging it for another (verified correct) unit.

If it is just a quality control issue, that's still sad/problematic, but it's better than a design flaw.

I have a MBPR and the connector stays in very well. I just tried "brushing" it and my laptop moved against the pressure. I'm guessing pogue generalized this issue and only has a sample of 1 (his MBA). NYT strikes again..

I'll vouch for the issue with a new MBA. I have two magsafe 2 adapters and they both exhibit this issue.

Apparently the magnet is in the laptop, so your same size is still just one, even with two adapters

This is not the first time I'm reading about the problem, and the last time, I think on reddit, the replies were mixed as well. The problem is quite shocking to me, because it's their flagship product that's totally unrepairable, so the solution will probably be to just give those affected a new device. The only reusable parts may be logic board and disk. From an environmental standpoint, and of course knowing that this is just factored into the rather high price, this makes me angry.

Yep. To add to the anecdata, my dog managed to yank my laptop off of my desk quite easily, not a month after I bought it. Everything was fine --- OK, the dog was spooked --- but my laptop was still plugged in.

Same here. I fact, in two weeks (when I brought it) is has never fallen our.

"It falls out if you tip the laptop slightly."

I agree with that part. Doesn't take much at all if it's pulled from anything beyond straight on.

Personally I hate Magsafe in all its incarnations, it's always been too weak. Many times I thought I had been powering my laptop for a few hours but I had accidentally unplugged it and the battery was dead. At one point I had a laptop that had some kind of battery problems and I figured I could just use it as a desktop machine and leave it plugged in all the time. But Magsafe would just randomly detach when I moved the machine and it would immediately power down. I really don't understand the giant benefit that people see, I've never had the theoretical someone-tripping-on-the-cord-crashing-the-whole-laptop-to-the-floor problem actually happen on non-Magsafe machines.

Interesting. I've never had this problem with several types of Macbook and Magsafe, and I've never heard of anyone having that problem.

As I'm typing this, I'm trying to dislodge the L-shaped plug from my 13" Macbook, and it's truly impossible to do that by accident.

On the other side of the equation, I'm far from unfamiliar with tripping on the cord, but maybe that's just my clumsiness.

[dislodging is] truly impossible to do that by accident.

Isn't that counter to the whole purpose of the connector?

Not at all. If it is designed to release with 15 newtons of force, and you apply 14.9 newtons in all directions and it doesn't release, then I would say that is evidence that is unlikely to dislodge by accident.

However, I'll grant you "truly impossible" is something better left to logic. The real world is not exactly famous for rendering many things "truly impossible".

The whole point of the magsafe adaptor is that it releases when there's an accident.

Magsafe is the thing I hate the most in a MacBook. Maybe this is a third world problem, but this connecter is a dust magnet, and it routinely attracts so much dirt that I have to clean it up before the circuit is established. I so much prefer the PC connectors.

I think you mean first world problem.

Third world problems include poverty, epidemics, and starvation.

No, he means he lives in the third world and it is very dusty where he lives.

And dust.

And sanitation.

When I was about six, I had a powerful alnico magnet to play with, and I remember being quite intrigued that dirt would stick to it. Not all dirt, but some dirt. At one point I had a small jar full of magnetic dirt, collected by sweeping the magnet thru dirt and scraping off whatever sticked. As I recall, the magnetic dirt was darker in hue than the grayish non-magnetic dirt.

I've never really had this issue. There's a light right on the MagSafe connector that indicates if it's charging your Mac or not.

This is also one of Apple's better design decisions. With an Apple brick, you just need to glance to the side to see if your brick and laptop are connected correctly. If it is the green LED is on.

With every other brick I've seen the LED is on the brick itself and there is no LED indicator on the connector. You need double the LEDs and have to look under the desk.

When I used Windows laptops, I appreciated that Dell did something similar to what Apple does - there was an LED ring on the plug.

Of course, it was a tasteless giant bright blue LED ring. So...yeah.

Most laptops I have used just add a battery light to the laptop it's self which makes for cheaper cords, is easier to see, and is just as useful.

The people I know who love it the most have pets and/or children. I do not, but I like the ease of connecting and disconnecting it and when I visit my family who do have pets and children I also appreciate the MagSafe connector.

Exact same problem here. Battery dead (the good old swollen battery bug) and x times a day: oops black screen, Magsafe came out again. In the end I made an aluminium tetris-shaped piecs and glued it to the side of the laptop, covering the Magsafe at one end so it would never ever come out again.

I broke my $650 laptop by accidentally pulling the power cord. It happens.

> At one point I had a laptop that had some kind of battery problems and I figured I could just use it as a desktop machine and leave it plugged in all the time. But Magsafe would just randomly detach when I moved the machine and it would immediately power down.

Friend of mine had the same thing. Duct-tape to the rescue :)

David Pogue can speak for himself. I find the new magsafe to be a lot better than the old, if only because the sideways design sucked (it's harder to rotate into place when plugging in, harder to take out, and places extra strain on the connection between the wire and the plug).

With the exception of PR people everyone speaks for themselves. Before this post did you think Pogue spoke for mac enthusiasts everywhere?

He just meant that Pogue's experience didn't jive with his own. Since we're talking mostly about objective facts (the number of Newtons needed to pull out the wire), it's not obvious that Pogue couldn't be making a claim about everyone's wire. Jeez.


The link you posted does not "speak for itself." Can you provide some context for why you posted a link to the least authoratative reference site on the internet? Even if it was the OED I'm not sure I would understand your point.

> David Pogue can speak for himself

Translation: "I do not agree with David Pogue"

The phrase "speak for" is an idiom and is not meant to be taken literally.

So your link was for the special usage note to the last entry on the page that begins with "sometimes"? Furthermore I have never seen this idiom used when it is preceded by "can."

From the OED:

"speak for yourself: expressing a desire to dissociate oneself from what another has just said or the assumptions behind it."

That looks like a suprisingly terse entry from the oed. I do not think io have eveer seen such a short entry from the oed. How much did you edit and leave out?

How many people put "can" in front of the idiom?

In the OED entry for the verb "speak," there is a sub entry for "to speak for." About half of that is devoted to "speak for yourself," which is what I quoted. It is followed by the typical list of examples.

There was a Simpsons reincarnation joke that used the phrase:

Sideshow Mel: You only live once! Apu: Hey, speak for yourself!


How many of the example entries are preceded by "can?"

They probably weakened the magnet to make it detach more easily to prevent the point where the plug connects to the wire from weakening over time, which is a battle that they (and other laptop producers) have now been fighting for many years. They've had multiple class action lawsuits about this same issue, and multiple recalls, and they still haven't been able to get it right. I personally owned multiple models that ended up producing sparks because the wires inside had gotten so badly frayed.

I reckon it's a genuinely tough engineering problem, since besides unintentional yanks, a laptop power cord gets plugged in and unplugged and hauled around in bags. But it's pretty surprising that they haven't been able to make this enough of a priority to solve it, given how much they charge for those adapters and how much they must have lost on recalls and lawsuits.

But honestly, the solution is simple enough: make the side that gets easily damaged replaceable, and let customers have free replacements every 6 months (and build that trivial cost into the original price of the adapter).

I do not think your solution fits well with Apple's transition to "lifestyle gear."

Sometimes I wonder if we should all just take a walk outside.

T connectors are better than L.


Had an L connector - I can either cover my ports or have it dangle towards the back. Towards the back, it picked up a lot of heat from the heat vents, because they run a lot because I use the laptop for heavy duty computing quite often.

I got some crap about "potential abuse - we'll switch it this time, but they're not meant to withstand abuse" (or something like that). This is normal every day use for 1 year. Old T style - have had multiple of them - never had this problem.

I haven't used MagSafe2 yet but MagSafe1 on my 2011 Macbook Air 11" is too strong. When you pull from an angle it just slides the laptop with it. I would guess that's what Apple is trying to fix with MagSafe2. It may not be much of an issue for the heavier laptops but going forward it's likely laptops are going to continue getting lighter -- not heavier. I think the benefits outweigh the drawbacks here.

I agree, I've got a retina MBP and far prefer the cable. The cable on my MacBook Air was too strong.

I assume that the lightness of the connection has to do with the fact that the 'perfect balance' Pogue describes depends on the weight of the computer to counterbalance the break-away point of the magnet. New new 11-inch Air's are so insanely light that the old magnet could drag them all over the room (almost hang from it), thus defeating the break-away purpose.

A near feather-like connection seems required to balance such a light computer.

The magnet is in the computer. The power adapter part is just iron. If the connection is too strong with the air, the problem lies with the laptop and not the power adapter.

I'm sorry, but I'm confused. Is the new MagSafe connector exactly the same as the connector two generations back? I have a white plastic MacBook and the connector looks like the first photo.

It's thinner than the old MagSafe connectors, but has the same T-Shape as the "two generations back" connector you're referring to.

Hmm, I liked that adapter. The newer ones don't disconnect if you pull laterally.

I just had the same question. I am sitting here working on a late 2008 MacBook Pro and the magsafe connector looks exactly like the 'new' magsafe connector pictured in the article.


Only a very slight difference to the connecting surface itself.

It's slightly wider and thinner than the old white plastic MacBook connector.

I've been using the 2012 MBA near daily since it came out. I have definitely noticed that the magsafe feels significantly weaker than it should, but I think it's simply a matter of Apple not cranking up the magnetism.

There is nothing inherently wrong with the T design (at least, in that it would outweigh the pros vs. the L design), and as others have pointed out, it has a number of advantages.

Speaking from personal experience, his exasperation is very over exaggerated. Sure, it's annoying, but I would much rather have it too weak than too strong.

I haven't tried the new connector, but I worry Pogue is right.

My last MacBook Pro came with the old T connector. It was a massive improvement over standard laptop connectors, but I did run into the crossed legs problem. If I had my legs crossed and set my laptop between them, I had to angle the laptop to be parallel to my left leg; otherwise my leg would dislodge the connector.

My current MacBook Pro has the L style connector. It doesn't have the lap problem, but it bugs me that it covers some of the ports. I usually plug it in so the came comes towards me (more convenient the way I have everything positioned), but that blocks the FW800 port, so I have to swap it around if I want to plug a FW800 disk in.

I like the idea of going back to the T connector, but the idea that they weakened the magnets makes me think the cross-legged problem would be even worse.

I guess I'll find out when I replace this machine with a newer one, probably in a year or two.

I just received a new MacBook Air and my MagSafe connection is pretty much the same as the last two notebooks. It sounds to me like Pogue has a physical problem with the magnet. He should get it looked at by Apple.

I can drag the 11" Air across my desk by pulling on the power cord. It doesn't disconnect unless I pull up or down.

I just tested this on my mid-2012 MBA, and indeed. Pretty amazing detailed and "small" design feature. Great.

> It’s the worst Apple design blunder since the hockey-puck mouse.

Looking back at Apple mice and their acceleration controls, I think Steve Jobs had a blind side here. Perhaps he was more coordinated than most people, so could compensate and was unaware of the various shortcomings of Apple mice.

I had hoped that Apple had finally got it's power cable plug shit together with the L-shaped Magsafe. Before that, my wife and I have managed to kill every type Apple has produced over the past decade, but the L-shaped Magsafe has survived.

Why on earth did they have to mess with that?

Just bought a MBA yesterday, and my relatively unbiased impression (from a non Apple product user) is that the power adaptor is awesome. In fact, I would worry if it were more securely fastened in there - I don't mind if it falls out, if it means that there will be less damage over time. I've had one too many chargers ruined on my PCs... I remember buying 5 or 6 for an old Dell I had.

"The beauty of the MagSafe connector was that Apple had found precisely the right balance between attachment and detachment. Strong enough to hold the connector in place, weak enough to detach if it gets yanked."

Pretty subjective I think.

Just one more datapoint. I had an older MacBook with the T-Magsafe and I now have a MacBook Pro with the L-Magsafe. I love the L-Magsafe. With the T type the cable near the connector would fray every year and a half or so. I had it replaced once for free. The second time I had to buy a replacement. Never had a problem with the L type. For me the return to the T type is a regression but I read in this thread that people had fraying problems with the L type. Is it a huge technical challenge to make a laptop charger that will withstand normal wear and tear for at least 3 years?

Is it just me or everyday is there a new story about Apple failing in some way? Whether it be a Microsoft-esque advertisement, patent lawsuits with Samsung, failure of a newly designed Apple power connector. I'm not an analyst so what I say should be taken with a grain of salt, but something is changing over at Apple. I honestly believe whatever magic Steve left at the place is now depleted, what we are seeing are ideas, products and ideals of a post-Steve Jobs Apple and by the looks of it, it is not doing so well.

My next question is: what's next?

This is only perception and not reality. If Steve was still alive this post would have still come out and the T shaped adapter would still be used on new Mac laptops.

There are a few fallacies at play in your comment and you're far from the only one to have said similar things. First off, both the L and T shaped adapters have their pros and cons. I personally prefer the T shaped adapter. The author of this piece has taken his opinion and turned it into an indictment of Apple which I get because it is an opinion piece after all but as readers we should be able to see that this isn't true for everyone. The reality is that both have their pros and cons and Apple chose T shaped adapters. For as many people out there that complain there are just as many who prefer it (myself included). The product pipeline isn't going to go downhill for years. It's well known that Jobs left the company with several years worth of products that'll be rolled out. What there is to worry about is when that pipeline ends.

The last thing that people forget is that Apple has always made mistakes. Even while Jobs was at the company. For as many hits as they have they have a ton of misses. Overall they do a great job and the ratio of hits to missed hasn't swung in favor of misses at all yet. It's just that now that Jobs is gone people understandably wonder if "this is it" for Apple whenever they miss. Considering that it hasn't even been a year since Jobs passed and how strong an influence he had at Apple it's only natural for people to take criticism that would have happened with or without Jobs and frame it in the context of Apple going downhill since Jobs died.

Apple is as strong as ever. They make amazing products as usual. They fuck up sometimes... Also as usual.

Reading the first few sentences, I thought you were going to criticize the media for playing into the "Apple will fail without Steve"-bit.

I don't know what will happen at Apple, but I don't like lynch mobs. Give Tim Cook a chance... These are very minor items.

I observed this very thing with Facebook too. (Facebook Ads are clicked by bots.. Facebook has 80 million fake users..) HN front page seems to contain at least one of these stories at any given time.

I always felt that the L-connector was way to strong. There are plenty of times where it should have disconnected, but it didn't. It feels like it's only safe for really sharp tugs.

Personally I found the "L" shaped connector to be far worse since it blocks ports and encourages one to bend the cable when inserting and removing, easily leading to a frayed cable.

I haven't really had any problems with my Magsafe 2 connector.

I was upgrading from an older Macbook that used the older T-shaped Magsafe, I never owned any of the L shaped ones.

I haven't tried the new magsafe, but I know that my existing L shaped magsafe is prone to fraying on the cable just below the L. I have had one replaced at the Apple Store after I was told that they don't normally replace due to "physical damage". I have a second at work that is starting to fray. I am someone who has a high level of mechanical sympathy so I don't believe I have abused these adapters.

The old style magsafe adapters is one of the best features of mac laptops. I'm still surprised that other manufacturers haven't followed suit.

Other manufacturers have! Just not laptop manufacturers:



Edit: Incidentally, I always assumed this is where Apple got the idea in the first place.

Don't magnetic connectors on deep fat fryers famously pre-date MagSafe?

MagSafe (according to Wikipedia): 2006 The above CNN article: 2001

The concept of MagSafe has been around for decades. My old water pot from Japan had it. The only innovation here is Apple repurposing it for laptop computers.

And maybe (I don't know nothing about magnets) the fact that their magnet are very close to other silicon chips inside the MacBook AND the LCD display (It's LED, but technically they're almost the same).

Magnets in laptops aren't a problem - spinning disc hard drives have strong magnets in them.

And yet Apple has a patent on it…

Not sure what to make of that.

The patent office will grant you a patent on $anything, as long as you add "...on a computer" or "...on the internet" or "...over a cellular network".

I assume it's patented.

The L connector suffers from the problem that you usually have to twist it a little to line it up with the laptop, and eventually that torque causes the connector to break off the cable. I'm on my third Magsafe in two years because of this. Thankfully, they just hand me a new one when I bring the broken ones into the Apple Store, though I'm out of warranty.

I've been through several iterations of Apple power packs now, from the straight pin plugs of the iBooks, t MagSafe and and L MagSafe. In my experience the L is much, much better.

I've had several issues with cable fray and connector damage with T shaped ones, mine grips fine and comes out when caught fine. Maybe I've got lucky.

Well, a MacBook Air weights far less than a 2008 MacBook. If it is not weaker, it will fly if your cat runs around

I have a new MBA (13"), and the power cord falls out constantly. I've developed a tic of grabbing the connector and holding it in if I adjust the laptop in the slightest way to prevent coming unplugged.

"I think the MagSafe connector is one of Apple’s best ideas ever."

If you're saying that Apple invented this, my mother had this on her deep-fryer in 1979. Nothing new. However, it's a good idea to add it to a laptop.

doesn't matter. along with getting rid of the latch it's one the best things apple has done to laptops.

Wow, I forgot about the latch. Been using a MacBook for 3 years and I guess I take it for granted. Was Apple the first to ditch that?

I think that came with the switch to unibody, so for some Macs in 2008.

The plastic MacBooks never had latches. Not sure about the iBooks, but possibly they did too - at least, post clamshell.

just for the record (very late, wow) the first laptops to ditch the latch iirc were the original iBooks, the "toilet seat" macs.

My wife's non-unibody MacBook (not pro) from '06 also has no latch.

I want to say MacBooks don’t count (always the sucky and worthless Macs), but I guess they do. So it started there. But the MacBook Pro definitely had latches until 2008, so for the Pro line what I said is completely true.

Why sucky and worthless?

I don't know. In twenty years of owning many, many laptops of all kinds of brands and designs I have never had one yanked off the table like that. I have never even had anyone trip over the cord and break-off the connector. I've used them at home, in the garage, at the shop, at the office, on airplanes, at trade-shows and while camping. To me the mag-safe idea is simply a "feel-good" marketing checkbox rather than a real need. Again, that's my experience. I've seen people that are simply not carful and don't take care of their stuff. And some that might be more accident prone than others. So, I'll admit that this is just one data point.

I've personally yanked a laptop off of a dining room table by tripping over the cord, but that was many years ago. But more recently, my 4 year old has pulled the mag-safe adapter out of my MBP a couple of times. Someone I used to work with had the unfortunate experience of having part of the AC adapter plug break off and get stuck in the side of an older MacBook. That was an impossible fix.

So, here's another data point or two... I've been very happy with the mag-safe adapter. It's one of those things that you don't need until you do. And if you don't have it, you could do some real damage.

To summarize: either MagSafe is a solution to a made-up problem, or you're more careful, value your stuff more, and are less accident prone than most people.

This is the way I look at it. When you write if-else-then statements all day long for a living you should probably be trained to think that way about everything. That's what happens to me all the time. I tend to consider the "else" and "else if" conditions almost instinctively. So, for example, if I am using a laptop at the diner table, I'll be sure to drape the power wires such that there's slack in the event of a tug. I'll also place a chair over the cable going to the wall so that there are very few ways for the kids to run into the cord and rip it out of the wall or computer.

I am, by no measure, infallible. Maybe I've just been lucky with notebooks.

I have noticed no difference between the MagSafe 1 connector on my 4 year old Macbook Pro and the MagSafe 2 connector my week old 13" Macbook Air. Both feel equally snug.

I wonder if he took it into an Apple store to have it looked at. Based on the amount of variability it seems like it should be covered by warranty.

This is about the future of the connectors, at some point they have to abandon legacy. It is thinner, that's obviously a future move.

It was already thinner than a USB port. This is a change for the sake of selling adaptors.

Or for the sake of giving away fewer MacBook Airs? Not that the warranty covers accidents per se, but Apple's advertising the MagSafe's "safety" benefit leaves them at least somewhat exposed to potential liability. The profit on the adapters is going to be offset significantly by the increased inventory required to stock and service twice as many port and PSU configurations and the cost of bundling an adapter with every Apple display sold in the foreseeable future at no extra charge.

Three retina macbooks (one bad, one loaner, one replacement) and I have not experienced this problem.

I posit that if Steve Jobs were still alive, the new mag-safe adapter design would not have been approved. It seems worse in every way.

Has there been any explanation from Apple on why they changed the design?

I'm not much of an Apple fan, but I do have a used MBA and I have to say, the old style magsafe adapter is one of the greatest features of any laptop I've ever seen. If having a laptop that is 10mm thicker meant leaving this brilliant bit of engineering alone than it's no question to go with the thicker machine.

The only thing is.... this year's MBA uses Magsafe 2, but its the same thickness as last year's model with OG Magsafe.

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