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Circuit Breaker

Belkin's new USB-C Car Charger is $45 because it supports USB-PD

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Belkin just launched what it claims to be the first USB-C car charger to support USB-PD (power delivery), and it's called "USB-C Car Charger + Cable," which I think is a great name. There are already a bunch of USB-C car chargers available; they retail for around $10 to $15, and many of them even support the quick-charging features of advanced USB-C devices like the Nexus 6P, and / or the spec-breaking Quick Charge 3.0 from Qualcomm. What's special about Belkin's new entry is that it supports not only 5V (the traditional max voltage of USB), but 9V over USB-C thanks to its implementation of the new USB-PD spec, making it better suited for charging some laptops and tablets.

Interestingly, Belkin doesn't claim an ability to charge a MacBook in its press release, though it does tout "faster or higher power outputs" for charging a Chromebook Pixel, Pixel C, or an iPad Pro 12.9-inch with a USB-C to Lightning cable.

In addition to increased headroom for power delivery (up to 100 watts), USB-PD also has some fancy features like multi-directional charging, and flexible power management (devices can signal when they need more or less power). But those perks aren't just dependent on the charger, they're dependent on the device's specific implementation of USB-PD. For now, Belkin's $45 charger won't buy you the future, just prepare you for it.