Jun 27 AT 8:41 AM Dima Aryeh 8 Comments

Practical Meter displays USB charging speed, optimizes it


Charging from various sources has always been hit and miss. With our current high performance smartphones and large batteries, charging takes far too long from some USB ports. And with our phones dying after less than a day, it’s imperative that we get that charge as fast as possible. But how can you tell how fast your device is charging?

With the Practical Meter, you can. This new Kickstarter project is for a very simple device. It goes between your USB port and the USB cable that goes to your device, and using five simple LEDs, it’ll tell you how many watts your device is pulling. Most devices max out at 5 watts, so all five LEDs being lit is a good sign. But if you’re pulling less, then you know your device will take a long time to charge.

Some ports will only output 2.5 watts to some devices, yet 5 watts to others. You never know how a specific USB port will react to a specific device. Using this Practical Meter, you can find out. But there is no point in finding out if you can’t do anything about it.


Part of the Kickstarter is also their special cable that contains optimized charging circuits in the tips. One side is a full size USB plug, and the other has three plugs coming out of it; mini USB, micro USB, and an Apple 30 pin plug. This allows for using one cable with all of your devices. Using this cable, you can draw double the current if you were charging slowly before. It does not support data transfer, but it greatly speeds up charging times when they’re bad in the first place.

Giving $7 to the Kickstarter gets you the three-tip cable with optimized charging circuits. A pledge of $20 will get you the cable and the Practical Meter, showing you where you need to use it and how much faster your charging is. And in some applications, like solar panels, it’ll even tell you how much power the panel is pushing out.

If you’re interested in keeping an eye on how fast your devices are charging, and optimizing it, hit the source link and go back the Kickstarter. It’s already over its goal by about 70%, so the risk is far smaller. Oh, and head to the updates part of the page. You’ll like what you see.

Source: Kickstarter

Dima Aryeh is obsessed with all things car and tech. His time is split between gaming and fixing his racecar. He also does photography in his spare time.

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  • LukeT32

    Pretty neat idea… I might have to jump on this one just for the shear fact someone is trying to help with charging times.

  • mecky33

    This seems like a cool idea until you really look at how lithium Ion battery charges. What follows is really dumbed down for sake of sanity.

    If you “dump” energy into the cells they do not absorb the energy as well giving you a fast charge that does not last as long. Charging at a slower rate allows the battery to more efficiently store the energy you are giving it thus giving you a longer lasting charge. This is a well known idea in the hobby world with electric RC vehicles. On a much less grand scale, I have done this with my HTC Incredible 2. Charging with the original 1 amp charger I can run the phone about 15 hours before it hits a 15% charge. If I charege offf of my home theater line conditioner that supplies a 100ma it takes a lot longer to charge the battery but it will run for almost 48 hours under normal use.

    • Jorge Eslava

      That is great info, I’m glad you posted that comment.

    • bob

      That’s the biggest pile of crap i’ve ever heard.

      On another note, search the play store for battery monitor widget. Shows current draw in milliamps and will also show how much power your device is consuming as well.

    • Tangent

      I accept a different actual charge level between rapid and slow charge, but going from 15 hours to 48 hours? Please tell me that was a typo and you mean 18 instead of 48… Even that 20% capacity difference based solely on charging speed is beyond reason, but I’ll accept that you can see it with varying use. A ~220% increase simply by using a slow charger is absurd.

  • ihatefanboys

    Cool if your’e charging through a USB port on your laptop, what about if you plug into a wall outlet ??

    • mecky33

      It should work on any USB port anywhere. All it’s doing is sensing the current available and reporting it using the display LED’s.

  • donger

    Very cool.