Accessory brings MagSafe-style connectors back to anything with USB-C
I’m a fan of the high-speed USB-C and Thunderbolt combination ports on all new MacBook laptops and plenty of Windows machines. But I miss MagSafe, Apple’s magnetic connectors, which saved my computer from a trip to the floor more than once after I tripped over the power cord.power connector function
If you miss MagSafe too, there’s some good news. I’ve been watching various efforts to re-create the technology for the new laptops, and the small $62 ThunderMag accessory is what I’ve been waiting for. Not only does it bring back that magnetic power connection, but it also works for any USB-C or Thunderbolt device, many of which never had Apple’s MagSafe in the first place.
The ThunderMag has two magnetically connected halves, one that attaches to the end of a cable and one that fits in a USB-C or Thunderbolt port. I’ve been testing it for a week to power my MacBook Pro, transfer photos from a memory card and connect to a gigabit Ethernet network. I successfully charged my USB-C equipped iPad Pro and Android phones, too. I even used it for my Pixel 3 XL’s USB-C earbuds. That’s not the best use of a relatively expensive accessory, since the connector is likely to pop off in your pocket or purse, but it’s a good illustration of what the ThunderMag can do.
I like the ThunderMag and what it represents: a new wave of versatile, useful accessories enabled by the USB-C technology and its more powerful competitor, Thunderbolt, which uses the same port design. Nobody likes dongles, but USB-C and Thunderbolt can handle so many duties that gradually you’ll have less need for them.
We’re in the midst of a golden age of USB-C charging accessories that customize what PCs, phones and tablets can do — and make up for their shortcomings. This latest design of the venerable USB port spans mobile devices and laptops, enables faster data-transfer speeds, lifts power limits to a robust 100 watts and can serve double duty to connect video and even higher speed Thunderbolt devices. USB-C devices typically cost more than older-style USB-A devices today, but USB-C is now hitting the mainstream, which should mean more competitive pricing. And 2020′s USB 4 should help advance the technology further beyond the earlier version.
You can’t buy the ThunderMag yet, though you can place an order the adaptor through Indiegogo. It’s $54 if you pay early-bird prices, and you can buy the two halves of the connector separately if you want, too. The usual caveats to crowdfunding sites apply here: not everything comes to fruition. Taiwanese manufacturer Innerexile has pushed back the ThunderMag ship date back, initially from April and currently to September, and raised the initial early-bird price from $39, too.