Satechi USB-C Power Meter shows power usage of devices connected to MacBook ports

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware
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.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 10
    It is available for $5 less on Amazon.
    irelandSolipulseimages
  • Reply 2 of 10
    irelandireland Posts: 17,684member
    MB and MBP should really have a sensible way to display battery charge % during charging when lid is closed. How best to show is on a closed computer is anyone's guess, but it's technically possible and imo needed. At the very least they should a tiny light visible only when on, which is amber during charge and green when charged.
    edited January 2017 pulseimagesr00fus1
  • Reply 3 of 10
    > 70 percent of the monthly subscription fee, divided based on customer use How would this work? By downloads? Initial downloads? App usage?
    ireland said:
    MB and MBP should really have a sensible way to display battery charge % during charging when lid is closed. How best to show is on a closed computer is anyone's guess, but it's technically possible and imo needed. At the very least they should a tiny light visible only when on, which is amber during charge and green when charged.
    Hear, hear. I miss my old "unibody" MBP which had a button which would show your how many "dots" the battery had. Also the greenlight on the magsafe was pretty useful too.
    chiaMplsP
  • Reply 4 of 10
    dcgoodcgoo Posts: 215member
    So this device can NOT pass data?  So it is useless if the power source is a Display.  That makes no sense to me.
  • Reply 5 of 10
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,001member
    ireland said:
    MB and MBP should really have a sensible way to display battery charge % during charging when lid is closed. How best to show is on a closed computer is anyone's guess, but it's technically possible and imo needed. At the very least they should a tiny light visible only when on, which is amber during charge and green when charged.

    Yes they could just do something similar to an iOS device where it just displays a battery in the center of the screen with it filled in depending on how much the battery was charged. It makes the sound now like an iOS device when you plug it in, why not display the battery life on the screen for a few seconds when the lid is opened. 

    OR

    Put a light on the USB C cable and have it blink spending on the charge (and of course it turns amber when its charging and green when charged). They should be able to do something like blink once for 0-25%, twice for 26-50%, three times for 51-75% and four times for 76-100%. Just something so you have some sort of idea how much battery is left.

    This would especially be handy for someone like me who never turns their 12" MacBook off. All I do is log out, close the lid and put it in my bag. 
  • Reply 6 of 10
    Why is a device even necessary to do this? Seems power draw could be easily measured through software.
  • Reply 7 of 10
    ireland said:
    MB and MBP should really have a sensible way to display battery charge % during charging when lid is closed. How best to show is on a closed computer is anyone's guess, but it's technically possible and imo needed. At the very least they should a tiny light visible only when on, which is amber during charge and green when charged.
    Eh, I don't see much value in it. How will I change my behavior based on LED color? I use my laptop, I charge my laptop. Having a % display on the outside somewhere seems tacky and unneeded. 
  • Reply 8 of 10
    jdwjdw Posts: 801member
    $30 retail or $25 from Amazon is still rather high in light of the fact you can get USB-A versions on Aliexpress for much cheaper, often with free shipping. I know because I've purchased a couple there and found them to work just fine:

    https://www.aliexpress.com/af/USB-voltage-meter.html

     But I've not seen any USB "C" copycats on Aliexpress YET. So that would be one advantage of getting the Satechi. Yet another advantage is the "arrow" indicator of the Satechi product. I've not seen that on the USB-A devices, although whether it is needed or not is questionable.
    edited January 2017
  • Reply 9 of 10
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,452member
    Does it do anything to shut down a damaging connection? Seems somewhat useless if the thing your checking damages your MBP.

    it does however highlight why putting USB-C on the iPhone might create more problems than it's worth ...
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 10
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 1,725member
    ireland said:
    MB and MBP should really have a sensible way to display battery charge % during charging when lid is closed. How best to show is on a closed computer is anyone's guess, but it's technically possible and imo needed. At the very least they should a tiny light visible only when on, which is amber during charge and green when charged.
    Eh, I don't see much value in it. How will I change my behavior based on LED color? I use my laptop, I charge my laptop. Having a % display on the outside somewhere seems tacky and unneeded.
    You wouldn't need a full LCD display; like R00fus1, I loved the button on my old MBP. There was a row of small, discrete LEDs and a small button. Pressing the button illuminated the LEDs showing how much battery you had left without opening or turning on the device. It was very handy to be able to check the charge before throwing it in my bag and leaving, or to know if I should plug it in to charge at night.

    I got my daughter a lightning cable off of Monoprice that has a LED light built in to show charging status (much like the light on my MBA's MagSafe connector.) Orange means it's charging, green means it's charged. It would probably take some changes on the device side, but you could theoretically design something with a light that blinked showing the percent charge (slower/faster, or a series of 1-5 blinks showing the charge in 20% increments.)

    Beyond bad cables, bad USB power blocks are also an issue - several years ago there was an issue with cheap Chinese supplies catching fire and I read an article that tore down Apple's USB block and compared it with a nearly identical generic one; the interior circuitry and design were vastly different with Apple's having a much more robust design. 
    edited January 2017 watto_cobra
Sign In or Register to comment.