JUL 3, 2022 / Gadgets

One device to charge them all: Satechi 108W Pro USB-C PD Review

Most of us don’t think much about our laptop’s power supply, right up until the moment that disaster strikes, and blue smoke starts pouring out of it, or its lights fail to glow.

That could be as the result of a power surge, or simple old age and entropy. Either way, you’re on the hook for a fresh power supply.  The same is true if you accidentally lose your charger, or someone with nimble fingers “borrows” it and then forgets to give it back.

The obvious temptation here is to replace like with like and buy the “official” brand charger because you know it’ll work, right?

That’s not a bad step, but it’s not your only choice.

There are other options, and this is where Satechi’s rather neat 108W Pro USB-C PD charger comes into play.

It’s a power block-style charger with a power plug at one end and four USB sockets on the other end. You get two USB-C type – that’s the newer, rounder standard that doesn’t care which way you drop a plug into it – and two USB-A type – the older, rectangular type that only goes in one way – to then charge your laptop and a group of additional devices.

The reality in 2022 is that most of us don’t just have a laptop to charge anymore in our homes or offices. You’ve almost certainly got a smartphone. You’ve probably got a tablet and might have a smartwatch or handheld video game console. Any of those devices, if they have a charger that ends with USB-C or USB-A type sockets should work seamlessly with the Satechi 108W Pro USB-C PD charger.

For laptops, that means it’s primarily designed to work with models that use USB-C charging, but that’s way more common these days than it used to be.

Every model of Apple MacBook uses it, and a lot of thiner “ultrabook” style Windows laptops, including the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 do too. Many tablets also work via USB-C charging, so there’s a lot of scope for safe and fast charging from this particular power brick. It’ll even act as a charger (but not a dock) for Nintendo’s Switch console!

That’s thanks to the “PD” bit at the end of its product name. PD in this case stands for “Power Delivery”, a standard that provides for regulated power supply to a range of devices within their capabilities. Some devices can be very fussy about power fluctuations to protect themselves, which is why you can’t (for example) charge a MacBook off a simple battery pack in most cases.

Power Delivery also means that it’s packing enough smarts to work out how much power is enough and not too much. The Satechi 108W Pro USB-C PD can deliver up to 108W of power throughput, but that much juice could fry smaller devices if it wasn’t regulated. This is where it works intelligently, delivering as much power as connected devices can take but no more.

The practical upshot here is that while it could fast charge up a laptop that’s capable of 65W charging or faster, at the same time it could deliver a 10W charge to a smartphone at the same time if that’s all the phone could manage.

As an example, as I’m writing this, I’m using the Satechi 108W Pro USB-C PD to charge up a MacBook Pro M1, a Galaxy Tab S7 FE, a Google Pixel 6 Pro, and a set of Google Pixel Buds A headphones at the same time.  Sure, I might be an excessive use case, but because it covers both standard USB types, there’s not much you couldn’t charge alongside your laptop with this charger.

One important consideration to keep in mind is that while the Satechi 108W Pro USB-C PD charger has four USB ports, they’re for charging only, not data throughput. It’s not a USB Hub for connecting your devices to your laptop for sharing photos, files or anything else, just a throughput charger.

The other caveat here is that it’s rather a blank slate out of the box because all you get is the power brick and wall cable. You’ll need the additional cables with the right ends (USB-C or USB-A) to start charging up anything from it. The orientation of the cable sockets does a fair but not spectacular job of avoiding cable tangles, too.

If you’ve got a laptop that doesn’t support USB-C charging – and it’s worth checking both the specifications because some will use both pin type sockets and USB-C – then you’re not plumb out of luck when it comes to replacement chargers, with your local Officeworks store selling plenty of alternative models such as this one.

The Satechi 108W Pro USB-C PD is a little more expensive than that type, but then you’re getting quite a bit more in terms of overall charging capacity, because you couldn’t buy a PD-regulated laptop charger and three additional PD chargers for this price.

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Alex Kidman
Tech Journalist