If you are looking for a new cable, with so much choice it can be confusing knowing what to go for, particularly if it’s a new type such as USB-C. A Google engineer has taken an unusual step to warn about the dangers of opting for the wrong type of cable.
USB-C is a new type of connector used for smartphones, tablets and laptops.
As well as charging it can carry data and video (up to 4K/Ultra HD), so in the future could replace the HDMI and USB ports. It’s reversible, so works both ways. Read our guide to find out more about USB-C.
Engineer Benson Leung has worked on two Pixel products for Google that use the connector.
As more and more USB-C products have become available he’s found cables claiming to support USB-C don’t match the specification, which can be dangerous.
Writing on Google Plus he said: “USB Type-C will only be as good as its ecosystem, and more specifically, the worst of its ecosystem.”
Leung has got so fed up with 3rd party vendors “so blatantly flaunt the specification….I want to hold them to task” he has started reviewing UBS-C cables on his Amazon.com profile.
At the time of writing there are reviews of 10 cables and adaptors, but only three he said reached the specification.
Some like the Type-C iOrange-E he praises: ‘Great spec compliant cable for USB Type-C devices and legacy USB Type-A chargers, hubs and PC.’
Others like this one he criticises: ‘This USB Type-A to USB Type-C cable does not follow the USB specification; may cause damage to USB Hub, PC, or charger.’
In each review, Leung states who he is, the technical problem and the potential outcome.
Why does it matter which USB-C cable is used?
USB-C cables and adaptors need to be built to a certain specification, including support for 5V or 3A charging. Download the full specification here.
If a cable that doesn’t match this is used to charge a Chromebook Pixel or laptop that supports 3A, the laptop will try and draw the higher current. Because the cable can’t handle this it might damage the laptop, charger or any accessories plugged in.
As Leung says: “You may not just get weird behaviour from your devices with these bad cables... What some these vendors are doing is downright dangerous.”
From a consumer’s point of view, Leung’s reviews are an incredibly useful guide for choosing a USB-C. They also highlight how confusing it can be with so many cables to choose from.
Have you had any problems with faulty cables you’ve bought online? Let us know in the Comments below.