You might have noticed something, if you pay attention to your phone while it’s charging, is that not all USB ports are created equal. Sure, your phone charger that came in the box, it’s pretty zippy, but use the same cable on your laptop and suddenly the charging slows to a crawl.

Why? Because not all USB ports are created equal. Some will only put out a fraction of the power that your phone can take to charge up, because they’re designed to power other items. Essentially, you’re “piggy-backing” on a design to try and fill up your battery. So, how do you know which ports fill your phone quickly and which ones are slowpokes?

The Practical Meter takes the guesswork out of it. The USB widget can be plugged into any USB port, and once it’s jacked in, it’ll measure the current flowing out. The top of the device rates the flow according to a simple meter that shows the results in bars: Five bars means five watts of power, meaning your phone will charge to full capacity in an hour and half. Two and a half… well, hopefully you can stay on top of your phone at work. In a nice touch, the Practical Meter is also a pass through: You can plug it in, and then run your cable through it to charge your phone.


Needless to say, this is useful for a lot more than determining where to best charge your phone: It also gives you a good idea of just where to plug other items, and a better understanding of how the things you own actually operate. But really the key thing here is finding the one outlet at work that will actually leave your phone charged at the end of the day. Because there has to be one. There just has to be!

Dan Seitz

Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.