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Technology

This $30 USB-C cable includes a surprisingly awesome feature


ChargerLAB Power-Z AK001 USB-C cable with power meter on a blue background

ChargerLAB Power-Z AK001 USB-C cable with power meter.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

If you’re a professional repair technician, then you’ll likely have one — or many — USB power meters in your toolkit. They’re a must-have. 

But if you’re a hobbyist, then you don’t really want to be dropping over $100 on an all-singing, all-dancing USB power meter that does it all. For most folks, a power meter that shows the basics is all that’s needed.

Also: This powerful, pocket-sized gadget is perfect for all your USB troubleshooting needs

And this is what the ChargerLAB Power-Z AK001 offers. 

ChargerLAB Power-Z AK001 on blue background

ZDNET RECOMMENDS

ChargerLAB Power-Z AK001

For $30 you get a high-quality five-foot USB-C to USB-C cable capable of carrying 240W of power that comes complete with a built-in power meter with color display. It’s perfect for diagnosing problems with chargers and power banks.

ChargerLAB Power-Z AK001 tech specs

  • Length: 1.5 m/5 ft.
  • Connectors: USB-C.
  • Power rating: up to 240W.
  • E-Marker chip: Yes.
  • Display: 0.96 inch/2.4 cm color display.
  • Information: Voltage, current, power, temperature, current direction, energy, timer, and more.
  • Accuracy: 0.002V, 0.002A.

Also: Repairing electronics with the wrong tools can be dangerous. How to stay safe

I have a lot of different USB power meters that are jam-packed with features, but the one thing that I love about the Power-Z AK001 is the simplicity. You plug it in, the display lights up, and you get all the vital statistics about the power going across the cable.

ChargerLAB Power-Z AK001 display showing voltage, amperage, and power.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

There’s even a handy arrow on the display that shows the direction in which the power is flowing. This is a great touch because it has caught me out using power meters where I’ve become confused as to what’s charging what — especially where power banks are concerned. 

Closeup of little arrow on the ChargerLAB Power-Z AK001 display shows which direction the power is flowing in

A little arrow on the ChargerLAB Power-Z AK001 display shows which direction the power is flowing in.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

I also like the simplicity of the inputs. 

Push button on the rear of the ChargerLAB Power-Z AK001 power meter display

There’s just one button on the ChargerLAB Power-Z AK001 power meter.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

There’s a single button on the back of the display that controls both switching screens (a single press cycles through the power meter screen, protocol detection, a blank screen, and title screen) and rotating the display (this is done by pressing the button for three seconds).

Protocol detection screen on the ChargerLAB Power-Z AK001 power meter

Protocol detection screen.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

I’ve tested the accuracy of the power meter against a calibrated meter, and it easily achieves the rated accuracy — more than accurate enough for these types of measurements.

Also: The perfect $16 USB-C tester for your repair kit (and how to use it)

It’s hard to find fault with the ChargerLAB Power-Z AK001. For $30, it’s an amazingly cheap and versatile power meter that doubles day-to-day as a 240W USB-C cable.

If you want a USB-C power meter with more functionality, I recommend the ChargerLAB Power-Z KM003C. It will tell you everything you need to know about what’s happening over a USB-C cable.



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