My new toy is a USB-C cable with a built-in power meter

[ad_1]

While I’m waiting for the adapter that’ll turn my DeWalt power tool batteries into a powerful laptop charger, I thought I might introduce you to another intriguing USB-C trend. You can now buy $20 USB-C cables that come complete with their own wattage meter, letting you see just how fast they’re charging your devices.

I bought mine a month ago — it took its sweet time getting here — but so far, I’m impressed! For the past couple of days, I’ve been plugging it into everything to see how much it draws: 18W for my V2 Nintendo Switch, 30-31W for my DJI Mini 2 drone, 2.5-3W for one of my PS5’s DualSense controllers, 54-65W for my XPS 15, all the way up to 99W for a 14-inch M1 MacBook Pro or a Skydio 2 drone. Or, down to 0.5W while trickle-charging the Wyze Buds Pro.

Why a leaf? It was there, it looked pretty.
Photo by Sean Hollister / The Verge

On Amazon, the cables are largely sold by an alphabet-soup collection of brands like “WOTOBEUS,” “URVNS” and “CHIPOFY”, but the one I bought feels surprisingly high-quality despite that. The tiny teal screen and shiny reversible connectors are set in a metal head, connected to to a decent-quality braided cable with what feels like a reasonable amount of strain relief — though I haven’t tested its “35,000+ bend lifespan” quite yet.

What I did test is its ability to measure power, plugging it into literally every USB-C device my family owns, including an array of chargers. Using a Kill-A-Watt and a separate, detachable USB-C power meter as the baseline, I checked both its accuracy and whether it could charge my devices properly, compared to other cables.

My old detachable USB-C power meter is a bit more… bricklike than even the new standalones you can buy today.
Photo by Sean Hollister / The Verge

In most cases, it was right on the money, with a few important caveats:

  • It only shows watts, not volts and amps. It’s a handy shortcut, but you can learn more from standalone USB-C testers that cost as little as $11 or $17 now.
  • You’ve gotta plug the screen end into the thing you’re charging if you want a measurement. It’ll still charge the other way, but the meter isn’t bidirectional.
  • For some reason, a few combinations of cable and charger had wacky results: the 14-inch MacBook Pro wouldn’t charge at all from my 100W HyperJuice USB-C battery pack when using this cable, even though it charged just fine if I swapped out the battery for an adapter or this cable for a different cable.
  • The DJI Mini 2 also wouldn’t charge at full speed with this cable and one of my four USB-C adapters, even though it worked fine with the other three adapters and my 100W battery.
  • My cheapo USB-C to Lightning adapter didn’t work with this cable, so I wasn’t able to test it with an iPhone. But I had no such trouble with one of the standalone USB-C testers and an official Apple USB-C to Lightning charge cable.

The biggest caveat, though, is that this is NOT a high-speed data cable; it’s only suitable for high-speed charging. The transfer rate tops out at the old USB 2.0 speed of 480 Mbps, a far cry from the 5Gbps or 10Gbps you can get with USB 3.1. With a good short SuperSpeed cable, I was able to transfer a 5GB file to my PC from an external SSD in just 17 seconds. This charge cable took a full two minutes longer (2:17) to complete the same task, bottlenecked to just 40MB / second.

That seems to be a limitation of these early cables, unfortunately, as all of them advertise that low speed — even this new bidirectional j5create one that adds some other handy features onscreen. Meanwhile, the standalone USB-C power meter I bought several years ago lets me transfer data at full speed without issues.

None of that’s quite enough to sour me on this cable, because I didn’t have a nice, long charge cable capable of both USB 3 data rates and 100W charging to begin with, and I appreciate not needing to keep track of a meter dongle anymore. I’m fine just using it for charging and pairing a different cable with my SSD. But if you’re truly a USB-C PD connoisseur, I’d probably suggest you pick a standalone meter instead.

[ad_2]

Source link

Related articles

Xbox Series X consoles are available for Best Buy’s Totaltech members

The Xbox Series X is sometimes a little easier to buy than Sony’s PlayStation 5, but that doesn’t mean it’s a simple endeavor. The good news is that Best Buy has...

Our Flag Means Death creator David Jenkins fancies a fine narrative fabric

For many people, Our Flag Means Death was an unexpected history lesson about the adventures of Stede Bonnet, the real 18th-century pirate who loved the high seas almost as much as...

How to change your default browser in Windows 11

If you’ve updated your PC from Windows 10 to Windows 11, you may have noticed that when you click on a link for a website, a PDF document, or a variety...

Fortnite’s Zero Build mode is bringing people back to the game

Fortnite’s latest season kicked off a big shakeup: developer Epic Games removed building, perhaps the game’s most iconic feature, from the core battle royale modes. It was a risky move that...

What Elon Musk’s Twitter ‘free speech’ promises miss

Thursday morning, Elon Musk offered to buy Twitter to save free speech. “I invested in Twitter as I believe in its potential to be the platform for free speech around the...

Latest articles