Quick Take: Charging with the Monoprice 80W USB-C/USB-A wall charger

[Update below from Monoprice on the USB-A ratings.]

I recently bought the Monoprice 33467 wall charger, and got a question about charging wattage on the site a little while afterward. Since Monoprice does not provide specific rates for the ports on this device, other than 60 watts on USB-C (standard for USB Power Delivery chargers) and 80 watts total, I decided to get out some thirsty high-draw devices and USB power meters to see what the rates would be.

Testing kit

This device has a removable two-pin power cable, a USB-C port, and four USB-A ports. The USB-C port is rated for up to 60 watts with USB-PD, and the total adapter is rated for 80W.

Update: The vendor confirms 2.4A per USB-A port, with full capacity available across all four ports simultaneously. See end of post for more.

It gets a bit warm when you load it up, so I wouldn’t put it on a container of ice cream or on bare skin, but it’s not too hot for an 80 watt device.

These are bidirectional-capable testers that show voltage, amperage, milliamps of current, and direction of power. I believe these are identical devices, either licensed or flattered by one or the other vendor. I bought the Satechi almost two years ago, and wrote about it here); the Plugable came out afterward, I believe.

Satechi told me some time ago that they should handle 300W of power, and I’ve used theirs with the 130W proprietary Dell Thunderbolt 3 Docking Station charging option for the XPS 15 9550 laptops, without releasing any smoke.

The bidirectional feature is interesting, in that  you can use some USB-C mobile phones to charge other devices, and this will tell you which way the power is going. It’s also conceivable that you could charge a USB-C power bank with your laptop, as opposed to the other way around.

This is a formidable device in that it supports USB-A, USB-C, and Micro-USB input, with USB-A and USB-C output based on the input source. It’s rated for up to 30V/5.1A which should cover any USB-C charging I’ve seen.

It is large and not friendly to being plugged in next to another cable, as you can see from the picture, but it’s very convenient (even showing four wire voltage and three different English interfaces/displays as well as Chinese). It is not bidirectional, so you’ll plug the metal plug into the power source and your charging cable into the jack.

PortaPow is a UK company that came to my knowledge for their charge-only / data blocker cables. These cables block/bridge the data lines in a USB charging cable, letting you charge (potentially) faster while keeping a host or charging device from spuriously accessing the data on your device.

Their power meters offer similar functionality along with a backlit LED power display. The pictured/linked one is their third version; I’ve used the first two versions successfully, although the older ones do not to my knowledge support higher than 5V charging.

Charging targets:

All targets were chosen for capability to charge at higher than 10W rates, as well as being under half charge so that full charging rate would be realized.

  • Pixel 2 XL from Google, at around 20% charge (USB-C)
  • iPhone 8 Plus from Apple, at under 20% charge (Lightning)
  • iPad Pro 10.5 from Apple, at about 45% charge (Lightning)
  • PowerCore 26800 Premium Portable Charger from Anker, at about 20% charge (Micro-USB)
  • XPS 13 9370 from Dell, at about 40% charge (USB-C PD)
  • XPS 15 9550 from Dell, at about 4% charge (USB-C PD)

Quick and dirty test results

The Pixel 2 XL charged at 12 watts (9.33 volts) with a USB-C cable. With a USB-A to USB-C cable, I got closer to 5 watts, although the cable might be to blame.

The iPad Pro charged at about 12 watts (5.12 volts) with a USB-A to Lightning cable, and about 28 watts with the USB-C to Lightning cable.

The iPhone 8 Plus charged at about 18 watts (9.37 volts) with USB-C to Lightning, but only 8 watts with USB-C to Lightning.

The Anker battery pack charged at about 17 watts (9.34 volts) which is fair for the Quick Charge 2.0 level of input (the newer version of the pack supports QC 3.0, and the Power Delivery version of course supports USB Power Delivery at up to 27 watts input).

The XPS 13 9370 negotiated to 30 watts of input (at 20V profile) while powered down.

The XPS 15 9550 negotiated to 45 watts of input (also at 20V profile) while powered down. This would have reported a BIOS adapter error if I had booted up while connected, as would the Pixel C 60 watt charger, but it will still charge.

Where do we go from here?

In short, if you need to charge several devices at a time, but don’t want 4-5 chargers, the Monoprice 80 watt charger is probably a good choice. If you have a more power-hungry device, like a large MacBook Pro or a heavy USB-C battery pack, you may still want to keep an 87 watt charger around for it, but for modest / travel use, the power this device offers should be good enough to keep you going.

I will probably plug the charger itself into an AC power meter, and see how it handles multiple inputs (including the laptops) in parallel. My expectation is that USB-C would take priority, so with 45W going to USB PD, I could use up to 35W max on the USB-A ports. I did have the iPad, Pixel XL, and Anker battery plugged in at the same time and they seemed to have similar charge rates to each one individually connected.

Have you had experience with the Monoprice charger, or have any test conditions you wonder about? Share in the comments, and I’ll check them out if I can.

[This was intended to be a Quick Take post, and while it was created quickly, it’s not as short as I’d originally planned.]

Update: A Monoprice product specialist responded to my inquiry this morning (11/9/2018). They said that the charger “can supply at least 2.4 amps each port and all four can supply this current simultaneously. The total wattage of 48 Watts across all USB-A ports.” Based on this reading, if you are pulling 12 watts per port, you should be able to drive 32 watts of USB-C which should cover an XPS 13 or smaller, a battery pack, or the newer Apple devices with rapid charging.

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Quick Take: When your Plantronics Savi headset starts to give out

[This is the first of a category of “quick take” posts that should be shorter and more frequent than the long, drawn-out, deeply detailed posts I usually procrastinate for weeks on. Let me know what you think of this format as a supplement to the usual volumes.]

I’ve used the Plantronics Savi W740/W745 headset on my work phone and PC for almost three years.

The Savi W740 (currently $234 on Amazon) is a three-connection (PC via USB, Cell phone via Bluetooth, Desk phone via various methods) DECT wireless monaural headset with charging station and pretty good range. I can usually get 100-150 feet though the entire depth of our house into the front yard and almost to the street without dropping the headset connection.

The Savi W745 (pictured above) is a Savi W740 with a battery charging module rather than the headset-only charging module. Oddly it’s about the same price as I write this post, $227 on Amazon, although the prices vary from day to day, or if an accessory like the headset lifter is included. Note that the model W740-M and W745-M are optimized for Microsoft softphones; I don’t use Lync or the like so I didn’t try those.

You can upgrade the W740 to the W745 using the 84601-01 charger, which also comes with an extra battery (currently $35 on Amazon). You can also buy the 84598-01 replacement battery for about $24 on Amazon, or $22 with Subscribe and Save. I replaced mine after two years; your mileage may vary.

The headset unit is the same WH500 unit between the two models.

One thing I really liked about this headset was the “unlimited talk time” when you use a second battery. It takes less than five seconds to change out the battery, and while the headset loses audio, your call doesn’t drop, and can be resumed once the new battery is recognized. With about 4 hours of battery life per battery, you can make it through an entire day of meetings and calls without losing your connection. You might lose your mind, but that’s beyond phone technology to fix.

After using the W745 for almost three years, I started to experience an odd failure in the headset. When I would push the rocker switch “down” to reduce volume, I would get a scratchy sound and the headset connection (not the call) would drop. After about five seconds it would beep and reconnect. Future use of the down switch on the same call would be fine, but on the next call or audio session the first “down” would drop the headset link briefly. This was the case for PC and desk phone connection.

I had an exchange with Plantronics customer support, and while the “try another headset, and then try another base” wasn’t the most efficient troubleshooting, I was able to borrow a headset and found that the problem “went away.”

At this point, I can replace just the headset (with the 83356-01 / WH500 Spare Headset, pictured above right, $120 at Amazon) rather than the entire $200+ assembly.

I do have a couple of used Jabra headsets around that I may give a try to (either a Jabra PRO 9460, $200 on Amazon, or a Jabra PRO 9470, around $240 on Amazon). although I’ll need a new “electronic handset” or EHS cable to let the headset system control the switchhook on the phone. 

Have you had good (or other) experiences with any current multi-connection wireless headsets? Please share them in the comments below.

Disclosure: While my desk phone is manufactured and provided by my employer, and while Plantronics has provided me with two personal headsets at past events (the 5200 in 2017 in a drawing and the 6200 in 2018 as a “trade-up”), the headsets mentioned in this post were purchased by me and paid for out of my own pocket.