USB-C plug
Cool factor 4/5
Usability 4/5
Value for money 3/5

The new USB-C plug means you can charge just about any portable gadget with a battery booster, including a laptop.

I’m writing this in the Frankfurt airport with a flat laptop battery. I shouldn’t be able to, but I am using my favourite new travel accessory — a battery booster big and strong enough to charge my MacBook Pro. For someone who travels as much as I do, this is an ideal solution to a problem I’ve often had, especially at day-long conferences.

The reason I am able to charge my laptop from a battery booster is because of the shift to a new format for USB, that plug and cable that have come to define the computing era, both laptop and mobile. Called USB-C or sometimes Type-C, it is a wonderful upgrade that works with all the new models of devices, including Apple’s latest iPad.

Not only does it mean a standardised cable — which is thankfully reversible, so it doesn’t matter which way you put it in — but it allows you to charge laptops from a battery booster like you do a smartphone.

The battery I was using is the Mophie powerstation USB-C XXL ($150, import, from mophie.com) and it is designed for the newest MacBooks (of which I have the 2018 MacBook Pro).

Without getting into the technicalities, it’s a 19,500mAh with 30W output (for the laptop) and weighs just 390g.

Battery boosters are now an essential accessory for anyone with a power-hungry portable computer, or as we call them, smartphones.

If you use any new-generation Android device, they will all have USB-C connectors, and then the Mophie powerstation plus powerbank USB-C 12000mAh (R1,500, iStore) is a good option because it has a big battery and a built-in Type-C cable.

Another Mophie product has a built-in Lightning connector for iPhones. In an age of easy add-on batteries, don’t leave home without one.