Steve DeRose's Unofficial Guide to the Targus Universal Power Supply™

The Targus "Universal" power supply is a great idea, and potentially very useful: The idea is to buy one power supply and be able to use it for many different devices. For each device, you need a "PowerTip", which must physically fit the device, and which must signal the Targus to send the right voltage and maximum current.

If you're a road warrior (see my guide on that subject), you probably carry a lot of power supplies. For example, you might take along:

6 devices would mean 6 power supplies. With a Targus and the right tips, you might be able to get by with just one -- or at least, one for each device you must power simultaneously (many only need to be recharged once in a while, so they needn't fight over the single supply).

I think this is great except for one thing: Targus sells tips only for selected devices: mainly the most popular laptops, palmtops, and cell phones, etc. There are many devices for which they apparently don't sell tips. Thus, you may wish to check before you buy, which of your electronic gadgets you can actually get a tip for -- in my case it was only 2. This does save me one power supply (and the Targus one is nice and thin, so packs well) -- but I don't think I would have spent the $130 it has cost me so far in supply and tips, just for that. I'd consider it a much more atrractive product if the selection of tips were drastically better.

But wouldn't some other tip probably work?

Probably there are Targus Powertips that will fit many or most other devices just fine -- a large share of devices use simple cylindrical connectors at a multiple of 1.5 volts, and could care less about current limiting. But there is no easy way to find out which Targus Powertips will do the job.

I found it hard to get Targus to provide a list of voltage, polarity, and connector type by tip number. Repeated attempts via their technical support and customer services lines failed. However, once I stated at length that I didn't expect them to warranty any use they hadn't tested; that I understood they wouldn't be liable for anything, etc. etc.; and specifically asked the customer support person to escalate the issue, in a couple days I did get a reply with some of the needed information.

Targus does provide a nice tip-locator interface here. It will tell you what tip number to buy for a given device, if the device is one they have tested. But it won't tell you the specs for the tips themselves, so you can't fid out about any device not listed, even though it's requirements may be identical to some device that is listed.

The specs for a few tips are available at and If you want more than that, you may consider sending an email to Targus customer support, and/or to Targus upper management, strongly making the same points I did.

I am not recommeneding for or against this device; I am simply letting you know about the good and bad of my personal experience with the device.

I am gradually collecting and providing information on as many Targus Powertips as possible, so anyone can find the tip they want. If you have infomration you can contribute that doesn't duplicate what's already there, please send it.

In another Guide I show how to make your own universal power supply, with what in my opinion is considerably more flexibility and less cost than the Targus one. Its disadvantage is that it does not do automatic voltage switching unless you do significantly more work (I do explain the extra work in case you're interested in going that far. It uses a method completely different than Targus'.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Here are some of my personal impressions of the Targus Universal Power Supply