By Malcolm Owen
Friday, January 27, 2017, 08:08 am PT (11:08 am ET)
Satechi has launched its USB-C Power Meter, a device that aims to protect MacBooks from potential damage caused through unsafe cables and accessories, by providing users with accurate readings of power drawn through the connection.
The USB-C Power Meter is a pass-through accessory, with one end plugging into the USB Type-C port on the host MacBook or 2016 MacBook Pro, while the opposite end offers another port used for plugging in the cable, charger, or accessory the user wishes to monitor. On one side is a display that automatically turns on once current is detected, providing details of power transfers between the connected devices.
The display offers users four bits of information about the connection the meter is monitoring. Realtime measurements for voltage and current reveal how much power is being used for the connection, as well as the direction of flow, while the current over time shows how much power has been transferred since the connection was established.
With the data, users can decide for themselves if connected accessories are drawing too much power from the MacBook, and if they are working within manufacturer’s expected parameters. This could also be used as a way to find out if a suspect device is counterfeit, if its power usage is wildly outside what the genuine manufacturer claims.
Data is not passed through the Satechi USB-C Power Meter.
While there may not be much in the way of difference between cheap cables and more expensive equivalents, the USB-C Power Meter may assist those wary of using ineffective or potentially dangerous USB Type-C cables with a MacBook. For example, Google engineer Benson Leung discovered as part of his USB-C cable reviews that some manufacturers may not have stringent quality controls, with one miswired $10 cable destroying his Chromebook Pixel.
The Satechi USB-C Power Meter is available to buy from the manufacturer priced at $30.