The 'World's Smallest And Lightest' Laptop Adapter Debuts On Kickstarter

A new kind of power adapter that's barely bigger than a plug.

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FINsix launches the 'world's smallest' laptop adapter on Kickstarter for USD79

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Back at CES in January, MIT spin-off FINsix unveiled the "world's smallest" 65W laptop adapter. Fast forward to today, the company is launching this nifty device -- now dubbed the Dart -- on Kickstarter for as low as $79 per unit.

This charger is four times smaller and six times lighter than its regular counterparts, and it also comes with a 2.1A USB port

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The enabling technology here is a highly efficient VHF (very high frequency) power conversion, as refined and patented by MIT. As you'd expect, the Dart is compatible with most laptops, and there's even a special version for MacBooks that don't need more than 65W of power.

The first 1,000 backers will be able to grab a standard Dart for just $79 a pop, and latecomers will only have to fork out an extra $10 per piece. Both lots are cheaper than the $119 retail price, but rather than arriving in the summer as expected, these won't be shipped until November -- following product certification and field tests in the earlier months, of course.
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As for the limited MacBook version due December, the first 500 units will cost a staggering $148 each, followed by $168 each for the remaining 1,500 units. FINsix explained that this huge price bump is because it has to buy the original MacBook adapters (also $79 each), in order to repurpose the MagSafe and MagSafe 2 connectors for its Darts. The good news is that FINsix is also hoping to work out a long-term agreement with Apple, in order to offer the MagSafe Dart at a much lower price.

For this Kickstarter campaign, the Dart's aluminum body will be available in either blue, magenta, silver, gunmetal or orange

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The device is built with a US plug, but it'll work with different voltages and frequencies around the world, so non-US folks can just add a plug adapter. Since the Dart is geared towards road warriors, chances are its backers already have a travel adapter, anyway. FINsix has also previously told us that it's quite easy to scale the Dart in terms of power output, so here's hoping that the startup will consider a 90W or even a 150W version, for the sake of those chunky mobile workstation bricks.

The story below was done before FINsix unveiled the adapter at CES in January 2014...

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Power electronics innovator FINsix Corporation will unveil the world's smallest laptop adapter at the 2014 International CES show

A startup called FINsix has developed laptop power adapters that are 75 percent smaller than their conventional counterparts.

The technology employed could also be used to improve the efficiency of a wide variety of devices and appliances, including washing machines and air conditioners.

It replaces a conventional charging brick with a device just a little bigger than an ordinary plug

The 65-watt power adapter—which delivers more power than many laptops use—can charge multiple devices at once. It will be available by the middle of next year.
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The power adapter is the first commercial application of a novel circuit design developed by David Perreault, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT

The researchers at MIT and FINsix developed a way to recycle much of the energy that’s normally lost inside a power adapter, improving efficiency and making it practical to use frequencies 1,000 times higher than those used in conventional power adapters.
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“The rest of the field is making incremental changes and getting diminishing returns,” says Charles Sullivan, a professor of engineering at Dartmouth, who is not involved with the company. But FINsix, he says, is “leaping past that barrier.”

FINsix’s power adapter is an after-market charger that can work with a variety of laptops and other devices

The company is also working with a laptop manufacturer to produce a dedicated charger. The power adapter has the potential to be far cheaper than conventional ones, because it’s smaller, it’s simpler to manufacture, and it uses far less material.

In addition to shrinking power adapters, the new circuit design could reduce the size and cost of a variety of devices known collectively as power electronics

These devices manipulate electricity, changing properties such as voltage and converting between AC and DC power; they can precisely control the power that goes to electric motors and compressors.

Better power electronics can improve the efficiency of, say, household air conditioners, but they typically aren’t used in such applications because of their high cost.

FINsix’s technology shrinks power electronics by increasing the frequency at which these devices operate

The higher the frequency, the smaller the device can be. But ordinarily, higher frequencies also reduce efficiency.

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