USB testers go beyond testing output voltages and power ports, and can now test and check fake Apple chargers and cables.
I have many different testers, but without a doubt the most powerful is ChargerLab’s Power-Z KM003C USB-C meter.
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It can tell you anything and everything you need to know about a USB-C port, cable, or charger.
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ChargerLab’s Power-Z KM003C USB-C meter
A powerful USB-C tester that includes all the normal functions you expect from a USB-C meter (such as the ability to measure voltages and currents), but also adds features such as an Apple charger and cable testing
ChargerLab’s Power-Z KM003C USB-C meter tech specs
- Area: 1.44 x 1.4 x 0.34 inches (36.5 x 35.5 x 8.7 mm)
- Weight: 16.5g (0.58oz)
- Screen size: 1.54 inches
- Typical operating current: 15~50mA
- Processor: ARM Cortex-M4 192MHz
- Backup power: Supercapacitor
Power-Z KM003C has a 1.54-inch 240 by 240-pixel IPS color display, and can perform a variety of tests, including voltage / current detection, capacity / energy test, identification of USB-C E-marker, protocol testing, etc.
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Everything is controlled with four buttons, which is easier than other meters I’ve seen that have a confusing array of rotating dials and small click switches on them. I often find myself wasting a lot of time trying to figure out how the meter works, randomly jabbing buttons and flicking switches.
There is USB-C inside and outside, and a port for connecting to a PC or power source. The quality of the ports is also good — sometimes these meters have poor quality components. The last thing I want is to connect devices to poor quality USB ports that could cause damage.
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The screen is also large, clear, and easy to read. I can switch between multiple color schemes, and it rotates automatically thanks to a built-in gravity sensor, allowing me to see the reading regardless of orientation.
In addition to all the power and protocol information this meter can provide, two features I really like are its ability to detect real Apple chargers and read the E-Mark chip on USB-C cables.
Built into the Power-Z KM003C is a supercapacitor that acts like a short-term battery, allowing the unit to keep running for a few seconds even without a power connection – a handy feature!
At $110, the ChargerLab Power-Z KM003C USB-C meter not cheap. In fact, that’s a premium price for a USB-C meter. Still, it’s a quality, well-made, usable meter that I find a cut above the rest, and offers features you won’t find on cheaper tests.
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And if you buy a lot of Apple chargers and cables, this tester will be worth its weight in gold for weeding out any fake products that untrustworthy sellers might try to pass on to you.
If you want to go for something cheaper, then the ChargerLAB Power-Z AK001 would be a better choice. This device is a USB-C-to-USB-C cable with a power meter mounted in the middle, and has a more palatable $30 price tag.