Pros: Name, warranty, product support and tech support
Cons: A lot of pieces to carry around, no bag for the tips.
I have a bunch of devices I take with me on trips etc., got tired of running around with a dozen adapters. I have two laptops of my own and occasionally work on those of friends. If I have to test their power adapter it's nice to have one i can test with to eliminate that as an issue. This one will also charge mini or micro usb (cable included) devices and comes with a battery to recharge/power small usb charged devices like your smart phone or mp3 player.
Ebay has lots of cheaper chinese products but you'll find no one guarantees operation and most can't even tell you what tip for which product. The cheap units also don't auto voltage detect like this unit does; they use a selector switch. While most recent laptops use 90Watt power supplies the voltage varies usually between 18-19.5 volts. Current is draw, the device only takes what it needs and it doesn't matter if the power supply can make more. Voltage is different, if you pump nearly twenty volts into an 18 volt device you are going to ruin it and you might get smoke, loud pops and maybe even a spark or two.
I looked on ebay but I couldn't seem to find a unit that would work on my dell inspiron 17r, my dell mini 9, and a friend's gateway NV5302u all on one unit. I also didn't want to wait a month for it to come from china. Office depot carries at least three of the targus products in the store. I couldn't tell from the targus documentation at office depot if they had all the right tips but going to targus web site there is a online chat in the support section, they answered within a minute and told me which tips I needed for each machine, all three come standard in the box of all the in-store products at the office depot up the street.
What they had, what I chose:
Office depot had the most expensive/ac and dc unit, this unit with usb "companion charger" and a battery to run/charge a small usb powered device like a smart phone or an ipod, and a cheaper one that was the ac power unit and tips only no usb charger and no battery. This one was on sale and I preferred the usb charger over the dc capability.
What is in the box:
adapter box with plug in for the ac power cord and laptop charger cable
AC power cord with two prong rounded style plug (I think everything uses this these days)
laptop charger cable with non standard plug
usb "companion charger" and a cable attached for the actual tip
battery that can charge or run small usb devices like a smart phone or media player. The companion adapter will take any cable with a usb plug on it.
Micro usb cable (to charge battery or other devices) that also has a micro to mini usb adapter included. A lot of newer phones are micro usb but older smart phones and media players are usually mini usb (bigger plug)
8 different tips for various brand applications.
Not much. This unit auto senses voltage requirements there is no switch to set as with the cheap units found on ebay. This is a 90w charger so it can supply the required amperage for the laptop power needs (different with each machine).
The power cord plugs into the charger, the adapter cord plugs into the other side of the charger, the adapter cord plugs into the usb companion charger and finally the cable coming off the companion charger goes to the tip. If you can't figure our what tip to use you can go to targus web site and use the online chat in their support section. If you want to be sure this adapter works with your laptop you can ask that question there too. They don't have an online configurator, you can just ask in support and if you happen to need a tip you don't have they have an online store to buy them. If your tip gets broken you can get up to ten replacements under warranty.
The battery or any other usb device for that matter can be charged off the plug on the companion charger with the supplied micro or mini usb cable.
What I think:
Nice, works, separate cables save a lot of space but it's a lot of pieces to keep track of and they don't even give you a little bag for the tips. If I had designed this I would have built in the choice to leave the extra usb charger out of the loop and just plug the tip straight into the cable..that's the only big flaw I find here. They don't supply a list of tips and sizes etc. in the box, I'd like to see that and they don't have an online configurator either you have to chat, email etc. to get that information. I like that the power supply, the companion charger and the battery all have lights on them so you know they are getting power. Support is good for this, I logged into their chat utility and got an answer with in a minute or two, told them what machines I had and they were able tell me which tips and which models would support all three machines.
With some machines you might find that the charger can power the laptop but not charge the battery. So far I've only put this on my inspiron 17R but in that case at least it does charge the battery, haven't tried the mini 9 or the gateway yet but I'm not too worried about it. It was a bit pricey but I am a little leery about risking my 800.00 laptop to a piece of chinese junk that may not be reliable as to voltage output etc. I don't mind buying off brand batteries etc. but a power adapter is pretty important and even on ebay with a off brand product the auto sensing voltage units are not much cheaper than this one was off the shelf no waiting.
update: Plugged in a friend's gateway NV5302u laptop and it fired right up and charged the battery, ran it for hours no issues. Plugged in the dell mini 9 and it also runs fine and charges the batteries so that's three machines it works perfectly for.