eXtensions - Tuesday 7 February 2017

Cassandra: Satechi Type-C Power Meter - Useful Device if Needed, Expensive Shipping

apple and chopsticks


By Graham K. Rogers


Since the new MacBook Pro models arrived in Thailand, I have been seeking out suitable third-party accessories that will make use of the USB-C ports. There is not much here, despite the large number of devices in other countries; and not all can be shipped here. I have had some Apple adapters ever since the MacBook arrived here about 18 months ago with its single USB-C port, but that was a spare computer. The MacBook Pro is the main machine and I connect a number of accessories to that.

Bit by bit, I have added a couple of USB-C external disks to those I already have with their USB to micro-USB connectors. I solved the problem of using adapters with those older disks, when I found the Belkin micro-USB to USB-C adapter. These made a considerable difference to the ways in which I could work. I ordered two of those from Amazon, plus a USB-C to Ethernet adapter because they were not available in the shops here.

After the new year, things looked up a little with a couple more disks arriving, although these are not cheap (they are not cheap in the USA either) and last weekend I finally saw the Belkin USB-C to micro-USB in the Apple reseller in Siam Discovery Center. These were priced at 990 baht. I paid $19.99 each (748 baht, including VAT of 7%), so they are dearer here, but shipping [588.65] and an import fees deposit [434.91] adds significantly to the charges, bringing the total cost via Amazon to 2,548.79 baht for the pair: 990 baht each sounds reasonable

Satechi Type-C Power Meter

An accessory I saw reviewed online, which I do not expect to see on sale here for a while (if at all) is the Satechi Type-C Power Meter. This is something like the USB power meter I borrowed from a colleague a few weeks ago to check throughput on a 3rd party charger "for smart devices" that looked similar to the iPhone charger. I was able to see that output from the device was not the same as the Apple product; and when a graduate student took the two apart, she showed that there were a number of differences in the components used.

As with that charger, not all USB-C accessories are created equal and it is useful if there is a way to check on power throughput. I ordered this Satechi device online from Amazon and it arrived this week at my office. It is a beautifully-finished, silver coloured unit, with a LED display. At one end is a connector to go into a USB-C port. At the other end is a USB-C port so that an external device can be connected.

I like it when devices work out of the box and this was perfectly simple. I connected the unit to a port in my MacBook Pro. Initially nothing happened. However, when I connected a flash drive the unit showed first the manufacturer's name, then a readout: 5.14v; 0.10A; 1 maH (Volts, Amps and milliamp hours - ). An arrow indicates the direction of the current: for example, out, to a non-powered device. When I tried this later in the day, the output reached 27maH; the figure rises if it is connected longer; and there are small fluctuations in voltage and Amperes. The Satechi site explains that Voltage range is 4V-30V. Current range is 50mA-9.99A. The readable total is 65W. The unit weight is 8.6 grams and its dimensions are 6.3 x 2 x 0.8 mm.

Satechi Type-C Power Meter

I later tried the unit with a Seagate 1TB hard disk that was connected to the Mac using the Belkin USB-C to micro-USB cable I have there. This disk is used for Time Machine backups. The flash drive had been checked using a port on the left side of the computer, but when I tried a port on the right side with this disk connected, readings were displayed upside down. As expected, the disk showed slightly different readings from the flash drive: 5.1v; 0.59A; 3maH.

Satechi Type-C Power Meter

When I had finished with the hard disk, I detached it from the Power meter and inserted the cable again. I then tried with the flash drive on the right side, but had to remove the connector for the hard disk first as the width of the Satechi device and that of the Belkin USB-C connector made it impossible to connect the two at the same time. When I tried the flash drive in a right-hand side port, the display was again upside down. This is of course readable, but for ease of use, I will connect the device via ports on the left side of the computer.

It is also important to remember that if such devices are connected via the Power Meter, they must still be unmounted (drop into the Trash) before the device is disconnected. However, even when dismounted, the Power meter showed that a device still draws current from the computer.

While the price of the unit from Amazon was $24.99 ($29.99 on the manufacturer's site), shipping costs added another $35.00. This makes the unit quite expensive for users here. A colleague who also orders equipment online (eBay) winced at this, adding that shipping costs, particularly from the USA, had risen significantly in recent times.

The Satechi Type-C Power Meter might be a useful device for a repair shop or for teaching purposes, but I doubt if many consumers would be interested in, or see the need for, such a device. I will keep this in the office as the department (Electrical Engineering) may well want to try something like this at some time in the future.

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life. He can be followed on Twitter (@extensions_th)



Made on Mac

For further information, e-mail to

Back to eXtensions
Back to Home Page

All content copyright © G. K. Rogers 2017