The new MacBook‘s single USB-C port might lead to some concessions, but it also adds some versatility – like making it possible to use the computer with third-party power banks. And thanks to the Monoprice USB-C to USB-A 2.0 cable, it’s remarkably easy to make that happen, and for just ten bucks, too.
Of course, $10 assumes you already have the MacBook in hand, plus an external power pack like the Limefuel 18,000 mAh unit I tested it with. And given the current estimated shipping times and store stock situations for the MacBook, that might be a tall order. But if and when you do get all the ingredients, the result is kind of magical.
Kind of magical, but also kind of limited – don’t expect to use mobile power banks like they’re portable versions of home wall sockets connected to the 29-watt adapter that Apple ships with the MacBook, because they just aren’t designed to output power at the rate the MacBook can accept it.
That means you’ll charge slower than you would connecting to mains, and you’ll actually still eat battery faster than it replenishes when actively using the computer connected to a battery backup – but you can still actually restore your battery’s charge when the notebook is asleep or powered down while connected to the charging pack.
The backup battery I used has a total storage capacity that’s rated at around twice what the MacBook’s internal battery can hold. That means you should be able to get a lot of mileage out of a full charge in your notebook plus the pack, so long as you’re willing to accept that the machine only recoup power very slowly for the most part with the existing generation of portable power packs
For instance, I gained only about 5% in just under half-an-hour with power off, but that’s still a great arrangement if you’re just carrying the notebook around at a conference in your bag all day.
Chances are likely that more robust solutions designed to supply power at faster rates, aimed specifically at the MacBook, will soon emerge, so this adequate interim solution could become a very powerful future one.