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Old 01-11-2009, 04:53 PM   #1
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Laptop Power Cord Issues

Before Christmas, my laptop cord got destroyed (kittens ) and so I picked up a universal cord from a store here, one where the connecting end comes with various sizes that you can snap on and off to fit many computers. Then I saw one specific to my laptop on eBay (well, specific to mine and a bunch of others) that was less than half the price, so I ordered that, intending to return the universal. I know it's the right one for my computer, because I checked and double checked both the model number and the part number.

Got it, and started using it, and very soon after, my pointer started behaving very erratically, jumping all over the place, being very difficult to control, and then it would freeze, and I'd have to Ctr-Alt-Del and then tab to restart the computer. After half a day of this, I happened to be using it while running off the battery, and I noticed it wasn't happening any more. I plugged the universal back in, and again, it wasn't happening. I've tested it since then, and it only happens when the eBay cord is plugged in.

Thinking back, it used to do this sometimes with the original cord, too, but not as bad as it was with the eBay cord. I think I even posted about it months ago, and I was told to increase my virtual memory, which helped a lot, but didn't completely take the problem away. [For several months when I first had the computer, it would do the erratic pointer - freeze - need to reboot thing, and then that mostly stopped, and what started happening instead is that while the computer was plugged in, it would switch over to battery, work until the battery ran down, and then stop. If I waited for 20 minutes or so and restarted it, it would then register that it was plugged in and start recharging the battery. This would happen maybe once a week.]

So obviously, something is going on with the power. With those other cords, it's either getting too much or two little - the former, I suspect. Does this point to a problem with the computer and the way it's handling the power? And if so, why does it seem to be fine with the universal cord? If anyone has any thoughts, I'd appreciate it. There's another month left on the warranty, so if something's wrong, there's still time to get it fixed at no cost.
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Old 01-11-2009, 10:06 PM   #2
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This happened to me 2 laptops ago and to a friend of mine. I'm assuming you bought a power cord on Ebay that was not made by your laptop maker, ie. you got something shipped from China that was pretty cheap? I am very suspicious of these because of the many stories I heard.

As soon as I replaced the generic replacement (although the voltage/amps matched) with a genuine Toshiba, which of course cost 2x as much, all the problems disappeared and the battery started charging properly again.
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Old 01-11-2009, 11:37 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by anitram View Post
This happened to me 2 laptops ago and to a friend of mine. I'm assuming you bought a power cord on Ebay that was not made by your laptop maker, ie. you got something shipped from China that was pretty cheap? I am very suspicious of these because of the many stories I heard.

As soon as I replaced the generic replacement (although the voltage/amps matched) with a genuine Toshiba, which of course cost 2x as much, all the problems disappeared and the battery started charging properly again.
It was actually shipped from Quebec, but the seller probably got it from overseas, given the low price. It was listed on eBay at $16, and with shipping, came to nearly $30.

But the problem first happened with the original cord that came with the computer - the pointer being erratic at sporadic times (not all the time), and the computer switching to battery while plugged in. With the replacement cord I bought through eBay, the pointer has been constantly erratic, to the extent that it's frustrating to use, but there have been no problems with it going to battery while plugged in. With the universal cord I bought at Futureshop, there's been no problem at all, everything's been fine. My only complaint with this cord is that the adapter is a little loose, and occasionally comes out of the computer while moving it. And, it cost $70.
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Old 01-12-2009, 12:02 AM   #4
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I wonder if it is something with the power supply then - maybe somebody here will have heard of such a thing.

As for it being loose, yeah that's really inconvenient. I don't understand why PC laptop makers have not been able to innovate or hell, copy the Mac magnetic power cord design which is so simple and yet so superior to anything on the PC market that it's astounding.
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Old 01-12-2009, 09:23 AM   #5
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What kind of laptop? Toshiba Satellite?

Generally it's best to buy the power adapter made for the model from the manufacturer, or at least check the output and make sure it's the EXACT same as what's on your computer's battery. I've used various HP cords on other HPs, Dells on Dells, but often very similar models use the same cords, batteries, etc.
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Old 01-12-2009, 04:30 PM   #6
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What kind of laptop? Toshiba Satellite?

Generally it's best to buy the power adapter made for the model from the manufacturer, or at least check the output and make sure it's the EXACT same as what's on your computer's battery. I've used various HP cords on other HPs, Dells on Dells, but often very similar models use the same cords, batteries, etc.
No, mine's a cheap-ass Acer, it's my daughter that has the dreaded Toshiba Satellite.

The thing is, I had these problems with the original cord that came with the computer, too, and it's the universal cord I bought that seems to run the computer with no problems at all. That's why I'm wondering if it's even the cord, or something internal with the power hardware that causes it to run wonky with certain cords.

Speaking of my Acer, other than these problems which seem to have been cured by the universal cord for whatever reason, it's been a decent computer. With the nightmare that we went through last spring with the Toshiba, and all I've read online about pretty much every make and model of laptop having problems, I'm almost convinced that buying a cheap one is the way to go. That way you can fix minor problems as they pop up, and then when something major that will cost significant money comes up, you can toss it without too much of a loss, and just get a new one. I got this one on sale for $479 (I've seen them cheaper since then), it'll be a year old next month, and if I get another year out of it, I'll be happy. This is my 3rd laptop in the past 6 or 7 years, and it runs just as well as my others have (a Thinkpad, and a Compaq).
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Old 01-12-2009, 09:13 PM   #7
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I'm of a similar mind, except I never bother fixing laptops unless they're still under warranty or the repair something minimal that can be done for under $100. Throwing $300 on a laptop that costs $700 is nonsensical. You just don't invest in things that depreciate at this rate.

Although I did recently spend more $ on a Macbook and I couldn't be happier so far.
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Old 01-13-2009, 08:27 AM   #8
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Agreed, I always get an extended warranty on my laptop, but I typically re-sell them before 3 years and it seems to help the re-sale value if I can tell someone it's still under a full warranty. Or, like in the case right now where I will probably keep it longer, when it's nearly 3 years old I'm having the screen, keyboard, battery, power connector, and optical drive replaced (heck they will probably just send me an entirely new refurb which is fine).

You really get what you pay for with laptops. One issue I see a lot these days is the lower ends coming with Vista and only 1GB of RAM, plus a video card that uses shared RAM. Vista is such a memory hog it's amazing. My old laptop had 256MB RAM and Windows XP Pro. I ran Dreamweaver and Fireworks daily and never had any major slowness issues, it did not impair my work. Now I have Vista with 2GB RAM and I'm using the same versions of DreamWeaver and Fireworks (too cheap to upgrade b/c I have the latest on my computers at work) and quite frequently I get virtual memory warnings.
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