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This little power meter could save your computer from shoddy USB-C accessories

Published Jan 27th, 2017 9:02PM EST
usb-c power meter
Image: Satechi

USB-C will be the universal standard before long, and for good reason. It’s extremely versatile and can provide ample power to boot, but that also means the number of crappy bargain bin USB-C accessories is going to absolutely explode in the very near future. Bad things happen when you rely on a cheaply made cord or dongle, which is why no OEM endorses using unofficial accessories, but if you just can’t resist the temptation of those no-name USB-C cords or external battery packs, Satechi just launched a tiny add-on that you should probably consider.

It’s named simply “Type-C Power Meter,” and that’s exactly what it does. The tiny dongle sits between your PC, tablet, phone, or other USB-C device and the cord or charger you’ve plugged into it. The device actively monitors the power flow and the direction it’s moving, giving you an accurate look at how much power is being sent to your pricey gadgets so you know whether or not there’s a problem.

The meter measures volts, amps, and mAh, and as long as you know what’s acceptable for your device you’ll know whether that 75-cent knockoff cable is actually providing enough (or maybe even too much) juice. It’s also extremely useful for verifying the power transfer of external battery packs, which can sometimes have a habit of underperforming their stated specs. It seems like a pretty slick little tool to keep in your laptop bag, and at an impulse-worthy $29.99, it’ll probably pay for itself before long.