So your iPad charger goes kaput, and you aren't so keen on giving a pretty penny to Apple (yet) again. It can't be that bad to buy a cheapo one online right? It even looks exactly like real Apple charger! But then it heats up like a burning coal and stops working after a couple weeks — because it's a real piece of crap inside.
Over at his blog, Ken Shirriff has a deeply detailed teardown comparing a real and counterfeit iPad charger. Apple sells its real one for $25 while the fake one costs only $3, and the difference really shows as soon as you crack it open. The outside of the counterfeit charger is stamped with all the familiar certifications, but "there is no way it could pass safety testing," writes Shirriff.
The counterfeit charger turns out to have only half the power of a genuine charger. (Why it takes forever to charge.) It's also a lot emptier, missing most of its insulation. (Why it can shoot sparks at you and set your house on fire.)
Shirriff's excellent post has a whole lot more detail, including an explanation of how the real and fake chargers work and even circuit diagrams for the curious. The bottom line is you get what you pay for. Maybe just find a non-Apple, non-counterfeit wall wart instead. [Ken Shirriff]
Pictures: Ken Shirriff