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The Practical Meter sheds light on smartphone charging times


June 27, 2013

The Practical Meter reveals the mysteries of charge times from different devices

The Practical Meter reveals the mysteries of charge times from different devices

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Recharging a smartphone has become a part of everyday life for most people. But while the device’s display will usually tell you it is charging, it won’t tell you how long you’ll be twiddling your thumbs before the charge ticks over to 100 percent. That’s where the Practical Meter comes in.

Due to different USB standards, it can be difficult to know what wattage is being delivered by different USB ports. PC USB ports generally output less than wall chargers, for example. The Practical Meter is a pass-through device that plugs into the USB port to monitor how many watts your device is receiving. Based on this information, it shows bars representing the charging time.

There are five bars displayed on the device, each representing one watt of power. So while it won't tell you exactly how long the charge will take, it will give you a rough idea based on the watts being received.

As an example, a port delivering 5 W of power, which is the maximum wattage of most smartphone chargers, will see all five bars light up, indicating a charge time of around 1.5 to two hours. If the port is outputting just one watt, then only one bar will be lit, indicating a charge time of around eight hours.

To go along with the monitoring device, the company is also offering a 3-in-1 cable that features mini and micro USB connectors, and a 30-pin Apple dock connector. It does not feature a lightning connector, so iPhone 5 owners will need an adapter. The creators claim that the cable includes built-in circuits that optimize charging speeds.

David Toledo, the creator of the Practical Meter and its cable, is seeking funding for his idea on Kickstarter. The project started with a modest US$9,999 goal, and it has blown past that quickly. Backers who want to receive both the Practical Meter and optimized cable will need to pledge $19. Buyers only looking for the cable can purchase one for $7.

The Practical Meter measures 44 mm x 19 mm, weighs 8.5 g and consumes less than one tenth of a watt. The Kickstarter video pitch detailing the device can be viewed below.

Source: The Power Pot and Kickstarter

About the Author
Dave LeClair Dave is an avid follower of all things mobile, gaming, and any kind of new technology he can get his hands on. Ever since he first played an NES as a child, he's been an absolute tech and gaming junkie. All articles by Dave LeClair

Ok, so the cheaper price is for a cable and not the meter at all? Even while the real tech here is the meter? Is that a typo or just nonsensical? edit: I checked and it's just nonsensical.

Either way i totally want one but not at all for charging a phone. I have no smart phone, tablet, etc. I suppose i'd use it on my Raspberry Pi to monitor power use during different OC profiles or running a game like minecraft, Or just as curiosity on everything from my KB, mouse, mic. Could be a nice tool, a fine tuning kill-a-watt on the other side of the circuit. And it lights up, who doesn't like that?


Doesn't the size and the state of charge of the battery also determine the charge time? If the battery is only 30% down when you plug it in at full power, it will charge a lot quicker than if it were 90% depleted.

It seems that to be really Smart - it needs to know the state of the battery before charging starts, and the capacity of the battery. Otherwise, it is just a wattmeter.

I'll have to check the Kickstarter site to see if there is more information.

Meanwhile - this should be built into the phones!!


On my Android device a battery saver/level indicating application gives me an option to display time to charge to 100 % AND time to discharge at present usage level. To do this it senses battery level and the charging current. I find it to be within 95 % accuracy range. Why do I want this gizmo???

BTW as the battery voltage level builds up the charge current will drop !

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